By Leticia Velasquez, Co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome)
Editor’s note. October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. We are posting new stories (see Maria Gallagher) and previously posted stories. This story ran in 2019.
I spend time online every day, engaging social media on behalf of the culture of life. Encountering hateful speech is an occupational hazard, but this expression shocked me: “Boomer remover” is trending on social media.
Let me be clear that I do not want to overly-generalize. But I find this expression celebrating the disproportionate number of members of the post WWII Baby Boomer Generation who are dying of the COVID19 pandemic to be deeply disturbing.
Perhaps this stems from Millennial’s and Gen Z’s rage at being called “snowflakes” to a desire for revenge at this generation for not doing enough for [fill in the cause]. No matter what the reason is, it reveals something deeply troubling about some untold number of younger Americans.
Perhaps they unknowingly subscribe to a kind of Social Darwinism: “Survival of the fittest.” Those of us who are older, or have underlying medical conditions, are the ‘unfit.’ If we die from a pandemic, we are actually doing society a favor.
Younger people have heard the mantra that older and sicker people “drain” precious financial and health care resources and hold antiquated beliefs about the nature of man and his relationship to God. I read an article about China’s problem of aging citizens, and it was suggested that COVID19 was convenient way to “solve” that problem. That may be possible in a Communist dictatorship, but surely not here in America?!
Christians and Jews believe God created man in His own image, with an eternal soul. By contrast the Social Darwinist believes the survival of the fittest is an essential and acceptable process, with no special preference given to human beings. To their way of thinking, those of us who are most vulnerable to the COVID19, over 65 years old, cancer patients, diabetics, etc., will succumb, and ease the “burden” on society.
To borrow a popular expression these days, we are reaping the whirlwind of half a century of this indoctrination.
To illustrate what this mentality does to a mother of a special need’s child, I will share a post by my friend Carolyn J. Smith.
“People scrolling may or may not read this article. One of the low-level things cooking below my remarkably cool exterior is the safety of the marginalized, the special needs community. My daughter has Down syndrome. A ‘little cold’ among my other children, nearly killed her as a baby. Her nasal tubes are smaller and her defenses are vastly lower than typical children’s. It’s not limited to the Ds [Downs] community, this danger of illnesses. As this virus progresses, health care professionals will make impossible choices about whom to treat. The odds are not in my daughter’s favor. Thank you for considering our kids when making behavioral choices in this hard time.”
Dr. Deborah L. Birx on the Coronavirus Task Force may be aware of this tension. In one of her daily briefing, she tasked Millennials with taking the message to their peers–that it was their role to care for the “greatest generation and their children” by modifying their behavior and reaching out to the homebound in their neighborhoods.
Let us not forget to honor the sacred human nature of those most vulnerable members of society, people with Down syndrome.