I’m going to have to write more on how the UK benefit bashing situation came about. A traumatised woman who needs 24-hour care who is an abuse survivor has her local council fighting her care budget on the excuse for the gross invasion of her privacy and autonomy of checking her needs (and presumably that she is not a fraud). is that the state tells them she *might* be committing fraud that could cost the ORDINARY citizen/taxpayer. Does this sound familiar? _Any_ dialogue on disability is reduced to THAT stereotype instead of to the real issues at stake! Almost everyone including disabled people falls for this Every. Single. Time. The four narrative myths of disability issues: CARE, COURAGE, FRAUD, and LEGITIMACY… Despite a focus on her physical validity people can STILL only see the potential for _fraud_?
The press have made the myths and we’re stuck with them! And they are soooo very, very old that most people don’t even realise they are talking of stereotypes that have been around 700 years! The helpless disabled person, the fraudulent cheat and the able bodied role as protector, abuser and arbiter of legitimacy! Study the history of persecution particularly of the poor and the marginalised and you’ll soon see that cognitive dissonance is in action. We KNOW we should do better by people than we do, then we feel guilt and guilt is unbearable so we project blame because guilt must be assuaged by blaming the victim of our anger. This can be seen in everything from pogroms to ‘gay panic’ to the witch trials of the 1600s.
The projected argument for persecution in any welfare state is always fraud (right back to 1390s and particularly in the 1520s- 90s you can see this in the popular literature of the time BUT….: NOTHING to do with halting fraud which was 0.3% or 0.5% across pensions and in work benefits . Yet the public sees a wheelchair and glares and the THOUSANDS of deaths by starvation, suicide and homelessness are so many and the suffering for ALL poor people in the UK now such that that even a THOUSAND times that number of frauds could not excuse it!
David Nicholas Kirby wrote a marvellous piece on how so much of the disability demonisation is being falsely projected from the able world to the disabled one: If you think about the amount of fraud that is organised criminal gangs, or that for example the majority of THAT is pensions or tax related working benefits .., the cases that are prosecuted have what in common: Someone ABLE BODIED claims to be disabled. Therefore: benefit fraud is mostly perpetrated by the able bodied yet it is associated with disability? WHY? The history of this particular scapegoating trick is old….In times of economic downturn the foreigner, the poor, the infirm and the outsider become suspect. it is assumed to be disabled people committing benefit fraud because disability is the benefit that can be easily demonised. Welcome to 1935!
If you are not a convert to the able bodied version of disability (a ‘supercrip’ of Paralympic- level inspiration who can work full time no matter what your disability or can’t be ‘cured’ by hard work for no pay as part of a Govt ‘workfare’ scheme or ‘cured’ by being listed as ‘fit for work’ even if you are in a coma or dying of cancer or MND (often referred to as the ‘Atos Miracle”) housebound or agoraphobic by being too afraid to leave the house or losing all your support and unable to leave one day you starve or go under a train or drop from a heart attack ….. few die from the effects of a beating but those exist too.
“We always hate those we have wronged.” To me that quote demonstrates why in the US the whole ‘Welfare Queen” stigma started with women who had suffered generation on generation of racial injustice and poverty. In the case of a disabled person: “Oh well, they aren’t THAT disabled says the bus driver when he doesn’t want to load your chair, “OH THEY are all frauds anyway” says the person who decides to park without a disabled badge. “There’s a lot of benefit fraud” says the umpteeth person reading of swingeing cuts to care packages and physical violations of privacy and humanity and doesn’t even realise they have reduced it to the same phrase that every other reader has: “We must protect vulnerable people from these other people”. Even as those very people die for a LIE .