Joe Biden: Apologize for Stroking the Face of a Disabled Man

Target: Joe Biden, Former US Vice President and Presidential Candidate

Goal: Demand a public apology for patronizing treatment of a disabled man.

While on the 2020 presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire, Joe Biden patronizingly stroked the face of a student and disability-rights activist. The interaction was captured on video. The student asks Biden, “How will you support more inclusive education for students with disabilities?” Biden responds by saying, “You’re smart. You’re smart. Your disability does not define who you are.” He then reaches out and appears to stroke the students face.

The interaction was posted to Twitter and some people responded that they felt uncomfortable about the interaction, saying that Biden seemed patronizing. Samuel Habib, the student in the video, recalled his interaction with Biden in a piece for Forbes, saying, “I felt like he talked down to me. And I was mad that he touched my face. Because I have a disability and use a Tobii communication device, he was perceiving me differently than another 20-year-old. As not being smart.”

Writer Andrew Pulrang, who penned the pice for Forbes, reflected: “While in some ways the encounter and responses to it demonstrate the progress disabled people are making in the world of politics, it also reminds us how not to behave with disabled people if our intent is to show true appreciation and respect.”

Sign this petition to urge Joe Biden to apologize for crossing the line in his interaction with Habib by touching Habib’s face.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Former Vice President Biden,

You recently had an interaction with a student while on the 2020 presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire that made that student and many onlookers uncomfortable. Samuel Habib, a disability-rights activist who uses a communication device for his verbal interactions, asked you how you planned to support more inclusive education for students with disabilities. Instead of answering Habib’s question, you proceeded to assert that Habib was smart and not defined by his disability—truths that I am sure he didn’t need you to highlight for him—and reached out and touched his face. At best, this interaction was dismissive. At worst, it was patronizing.

Viewing Habib differently because he has a disability and uses a communication device is minimizing and to suggest that his intelligence needs reinforcement because of his visible disability is cruel. On top of all of this, being touched without consent in any circumstance should not happen.

Habib described feeling as if you “talked down” to him and perceived him differently than you would an able-bodied 20-year-old student meeting you on the campaign trail. He added that he felt you saw him “as not being smart.” Regardless of your intentions in this interaction, you actions had a negative effect on Habib. I urge you to apologize both personally to Habib as well as publicly so that you can reset the tone and expectation around what is and is not appropriate behavior when interacting with a person with disabilities.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: David Lienemann


12 Comments

  1. Robert Ortiz says:

    Come on Joe, you can do better than that. Don’t patronize, condescend. I mean, like Biden well enough but his frequent gaffes, missteps and faux pas are pushing me to question his abilities and state of mind.

  2. Robert Ortiz says:

    Come on Joe, you can do better than that. Don’t patronize, don’t condescend. I mean, like Biden well enough but his frequent gaffes, missteps and faux pas are pushing me to question his abilities and state of mind.

  3. This petition is an attempt by Republicans to besmirch the reputation of VP Biden. Leave it to Republicans to engage in dirty tricks.

  4. Dermot G O'Connor says:

    Where’s your demand that Trump apologize for mocking the disabled reporter????

  5. LMAO!!!!! I love trumptards! Disabled person DID NOT COMPLAIN REPUGS. Go get some tissues trumptards GET OVER IT. YOU LOST!!!

  6. This is the most ridiculous petition I’ve ever been asked to sign. Get a life FFS.

  7. Intelligence has its limits, unfortunately, ignorance does not. To make a condescending issue out of Biden’s exchange with this young man was not only ridiculous, it made no common sense. Biden is a very compassionate man and that is all the exchange was about. Stop this foolishness and childlike craziness. We had enough of all that from the insanity of Trump. Do not continue this crap!

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