17 March 2008

The Vision Thing

Driving home this afternoon I heard this interview with writer Stephen Kuusisto on npr.* The interview was prompted by an Op-Ed Kuusisto wrote for The New York Times entitled "The Vision Thing" in which he discusses the ascendency of David Paterson as the forst African-American Governor of New York State. Kuusisto, like Paterson, is legally blind. In the Op-Ed he claims: "I think it’s a safe bet that Governor Paterson’s visual impairment will be harder for the public to understand than his race." He goes on to argue that Paterson's "disability" will prove useful to him precisely because he, like many visually impaired people, will have developed a whole set of capacities and abilities that the sighted never have to develop, at least to the same degree. I think Kuusisto is right about these points. I think he is right too in provoking us to think about political milestones in a multidimensional way. He is helping us to see things differently than we might.
* Kuusisto and I attended Hobart College at the same time many years ago. We didn't really know one another, but I have periodically read things he has published. He is a very, very good writer. It is a pleasure to recognize one's accomplished classmates.

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