War on Diabetes?

There’s a rhetorical move (that I think can be characterized as a topois because of how widely it is used) that is often used when talking about various things disability.  In the article How a national food policy could save millions of lives, the authors use the phrase “war on type II diabetes.”  The move that I am talking about is using a war terministic screen.

I agree with some of what they are talking about.  I think it is important that we should have the access to healthy food with no sugar added available and accessible to all populations–from the rich to the poor.  However, it frustrates me and hurts me that they then declare war on type II diabetes.  

A few weeks ago, I was diagnosed with type II diabetes.  Hours after, the self deprecating and self defeating thoughts began: You did this to yourself you fat fuck, so you deserve it. And for several weeks that thought repeated like a self loathing mantra. But then I realized that type II diabetes is a lifestyle. An identity.

This is the consequence of the war topic. Self loathing at the thought of having diabetes. Even if the focus is on the class implications of type II diabetes, if you use the terministic screen of war, then anyone who has type II diabetes is a casualty of war. 

I’m writing this almost a week late because the emotions were so strong. Because that self hate is still there and it’s there because of internalized ableism. And it’s articles like this and rhetorical moves from other activist groups that contribute to this internalized and unquestioned ableism. In an attempt to get their message across they (perhaps unknowingly or possibly knowingly) throw disabled people under the bus.

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2 thoughts on “War on Diabetes?

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  1. Thank you for writing about this. I think the writer who most productively addresses this is Julie Guthman, in Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism. The book is brilliant. I think Pollan doesn’t get it, on a lot of fronts. We didn’t talk about this in class, but demonizing a Chinese person in comparison to Pollan’s virtue deserves discussion, of course. My friend Anna wrote a super-smart dissertation about these issues: http://surface.syr.edu/etd/320/ I also recommend the article “Toward a Queer Crip Feminist Politics of Food,” by Kim Q. Hall. DOI: 10.1353/phi.2014.0011 I really encourage you to write about this more!

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