November 25, 2012

Regarding the Nov. 20 Style article “A diplomat’s determination”:

I was deeply moved by the story of diplomat Jeffrey Glassman, who sued the State Department over his forced retirement on the grounds of discrimination against the disabled.

While the legal system has based its efforts on technicalities in litigating this lawsuit, it has failed to gauge what this case is really about — the abilities of a talented person with disabilities to do his job with reasonable accommodations.

Beginning in 1984, Mr. Glassman served admirably in a number of ever-more important State Department posts. And yet, his world of brilliant accomplishments and accolades came crashing down after he was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease. Suddenly, it appeared that the State Department worried that sending a diplomat with a severe disability overseas could lead to a misunderstanding or embarrassment.

I argue that sending Mr. Glassman abroad to represent the United States would enhance the image of our nation as one that places emphasis on abilities over disabilities, on diversity and inclusion over retaining the vestiges of a WASPy gentlemen’s club.

Such an assignment would add prestige to a country that made a skinny kid with a funny name its president and that placed a “wise Latina” on the Supreme Court.

Jorge E. Ponce, Burke