Gary Arnold, VP of public relations for Little People of America wrote about witnessing Matt Roloff's speech at the Halocaust Museum.
"Roloff spoke for about an hour. Kicking off the lecture, Roloff did make a connection to the Holocaust and people of short stature, alluding to a woman named Liebe Perla and her family, a group of musicians who were dwarfs. During World War II, Perla and her family survived Auschwitz because Mengele kept them alive in order to conduct experiments upon them. Roloff put that story in the context of his own life, explaining that as a young boy, he spent months and months in hospitals. Although he had many surgeries that were necessary, Roloff said he was often subject to poking, prodding and pictures at the whim of doctors. Examinations that made him feel less like a patient, and more like an experiment....
Roloff linked the prejudicial treatment of Liebe Perla and the objectifying treatment that he experienced as a young boy to contemporary decisions that reflect prejudice against people of short stature. He said he knew of a couple who wanted to have a child. Through either in vitro or preimplantation genetic diagnosis, they wanted a dwarf child. But their wish was refused. No one would implant them with an embryo that carried the gene for dwarfism. People with dwarfism certainly face challenges that are specific to dwarfism. But everyone faces challenges. To presume that the challenges of a dwarf compared to the challenges of another person are more significant, and justify decisions that suggest a dwarf's life is unworthy of living, is certainly reflective of prejudice against people of short stature.
To change attitudes, or systems (see schooled, September 29), that deny people with dwarfism a choice offered to typical statured people will not be easy. Even after the work of people like Billy Barty, the founder of Little People of America, and the Roloffs, who have opened up the minds of millions of people about dwarfism, we still face systemic barriers that deny us what others are offered. But even if it's one person at a time, if Matt and others continue to share their stories, like he did in Skokie at the Holocaust museum, minds will open up and understand that far more connects the lives of little people with others than separates it."
You can read the full article on Gary Arnold's blog located here: