Why we need to criticize more constructively

One can roughly distinguish between three types of criticism in the area of disability/inclusion/accessibility:

  • Abusive criticism, mostly very personal and aggressive
  • Hard criticism that does not contain personal attacks and abuse, but is similar in tenor to abusive criticism
  • balanced criticism without personal attacks and abuse

I would like to describe the latter as constructive. One can criticize things without attributing evil motives or inaction to politicians or others.

However, our media, especially social media, is structured in such a way that you can hardly attract attention without personal abuse. In the debate about triage, for example, it is often at least indirectly assumed that politicians don't care about the lives of disabled people. I read from many activists that nothing has happened in terms of inclusion in recent years and decades. In my opinion, this is not a sensible way of dealing with each other, I would like to explain the reasons in this article.

Politicians are only human too

There are industrious and lazy, interested and less interested, committed and less committed politicians. What is certain, however, is that they are all under constant fire, from the municipality to the federal government. Women in particular are harassed, threatened and insulted, but men get a lot too. This is especially true in the municipalities, where you can hardly avoid contact with ordinary citizens. The whole thing has gotten worse in recent years, and all too many fellow citizens seem to have lost all their inhibitions.

And, I'm sorry to say, when some of the activists voice their criticism as aggressively as they are doing now, unfortunately they are only slightly better. Negative feelings and aggression tend to accumulate and intensify. When that eventually escalates into physical assault, every aggressive tweet, angry Facebook post, and vilifying Insta story has contributed.

Anyone who can't stand it doesn't even go into politics. In this way, we are helping to keep women in particular out of politics.

Young activists are frustrated and put off

The slogan "Nothing happened" is likely to have a demotivating effect on today's activists and scare off young aspiring activists. Certainly more could have happened since the CRPD, but also less. I'm certainly not a fan of the German Federal Participation Act - like so many other laws, it's too bureaucratic - but it's a step in the right direction. It's going too slowly, but we're in a democracy.

This discourages committed people from continuing to contribute. For myself, I notice that I no longer read posts when they begin with such formulations.

However, the effect on young active people is likely to be stronger. They tend to go into environmental protection today because it's cooler, but also because there's more oomph and a better atmosphere here. Young people want to make a difference and they want to have a positive mood. When old men like me whine to them like "We've been involved for 30 years and nothing has changed", we thwart our own commitment and show people that they should perhaps get involved elsewhere. I don't see a single person under 30 in the disability scene at the moment.

Criticism yes, but less fatalistic

Everyone has a bad day and throws out one or two stupid comments. Ultimately, however, one should try to be constructive. That means celebrating your own and the community's successes.

Criticism of politicians and organizations is of course okay. But it should always be constructive and respectful. Let's make it clear: We can only express ourselves so unrestrainedly because, as disabled people, we are virtually untouchable. Nobody dares to criticize us back because we poor disabled people have to go through too much anyway.

Furthermore, one should not participate in this unfortunate shitstorm culture. You can often see at first glance that posts are designed for frequent sharing and maximum attention.