Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Imagine

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can...


John Lennon, Imagine


Here's a thought-exercise for those who see nothing wrong with the Combating Autism Act:

Imagine an ethnic minority group—it doesn't matter which one. Imagine there are statistics showing that the members of this group are more likely to be unemployed, friendless, depressed, and other common consequences of prejudice and social exclusion. Imagine that very few of the successful members of this group are counted in compiling these statistics because many of them, to avoid discrimination, are "passing" as part of the majority group.

Imagine that the children of this group often are segregated in the public schools and are described in negative, stereotyped terms that cause them to grow up thinking of themselves as inferior and incapable. Imagine that many of these children are taunted and otherwise bullied in the schools, every day, because of differences in their speech and appearance.

Imagine that the mainstream media regularly publish stories characterizing the members of this minority group as a devastating burden, along with statistics purporting to show the lifetime cost of each such person's existence. Imagine that there are also many news stories suggesting that it is miraculous when a child who belongs to this group is able to become a productive, self-supporting adult.

Imagine that there are mandatory governmental surveillance registries tracking every child who has been identified as a member of the group.

Imagine that a powerful advocacy organization, while claiming to speak for the interests of this group, openly declares that its ultimate goal is a world in which the group is nothing but a word for the history books. Imagine that this organization makes statements suggesting that it is normal to think about murdering the children of this minority group and, at the same time, launches an advertising campaign that focuses on how many such children there are in the country.

Imagine that many politicians are influenced by such views and proceed to enact legislation which, in many respects, appears to be designed to bring about the goal of a world in which the group no longer exists. Imagine that the legislation is called the Combating [name of minority group] Act.

Imagine—if you can—how the members of this minority group must feel.

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9 Comments:

  • Chilling. This needs to be read at the next IACC meeting. My autie family member has been feeling the persecution -- esp. by a certain school which fully embraces the demonization rhetoric and is aligned with AS -- and it's clearly had a detrimental effect on his/her quality of life of late (extreme anxiety)... to the point of needing to leave said school due to continual psychological mis-treatment.

    By Blogger hollywoodjaded, at 1:42 PM  

  • I am tending to Strongly Agree with the post and hollywoodjaded.

    At least there's a bit of solace in "... but I'm not the only one..."

    By Blogger Patrick, at 2:45 PM  

  • Thanks, hollywoodjaded. If anyone wants to read this post or any of my other posts at the IACC or elsewhere, they are more than welcome to do so. I hope your autie family member is doing better now.

    Thanks for letting me know about the offensive curebie site, too. I removed that comment because links to curebie websites have the unwanted effect of raising their Google rank. However, I appreciate the information, and I'll be writing a post about it in the near future, with a partial URL.

    Patrick -- yes, they can say we're dreamers, but we're definitely not the only ones.

    By Blogger abfh, at 3:22 PM  

  • Nice post, and totally spot on.

    Unfortunately, I'm having trouble thinking of organizations that have represented ANY other minority in the past that have had such negative things to say about the people in that minority group.

    Somehow disability seems to be a special case, where groups that purport to represent individuals that are disabled actually further the stigmatization of and discrimination against those who are disabled. Most groups that "represent" the physically and mentally challenged have moved beyond this, but AS seems hopelessly stuck demonizing autistics.

    Joe

    By Blogger Club 166, at 5:54 PM  

  • "I removed that comment [...] and I'll be writing a post about it in the near future..."

    Perfect: That's what I was hoping for!

    PS Thanks for your kind words re: autie family member. Much appreciated.

    By Blogger hollywoodjaded, at 6:16 PM  

  • club 166:

    While I was reading this I was thinking of the Indian Boarding School phenomenon. It's the closest thing I've heard of to this situation that wasn't based in a perceived or real disability. It's apparently still having effects, even after the schools are gone, because it started the whole Indian mascot thing (I wish I could say I was kidding) and apparently left a lot of native children without a functioning social structure. I've read some things suggesting that some of the current social issues on reservations come in part from what happened once a generation of native children didn't observe adults of any culture raising children, and then those social issues feed into the cultural problems...

    It's the same sort of loop this post suggests. The damage done to one cohort of children leads to adult effects that are then used as justification to cause the same problems in the next generation through stereotyping.

    Different identifying traits, different methods, different particulars of the results, but similar patterns.

    By Anonymous jalendavilady, at 12:01 AM  

  • jalendavilady: Yes, those children lost a huge amount of their culture, and the schools were built by charitable "advocates" who claimed to represent their interests but knew very little about their communities. I wrote a post discussing Indian boarding schools earlier this year.

    By Blogger abfh, at 1:18 AM  

  • Another good post.
    It's a tragedy that we cannot get society beyond this point of ignorance. We can only keep trying.

    By Blogger Sharon, at 12:29 PM  

  • "Unfortunately, I'm having trouble thinking of organizations that have represented ANY other minority in the past that have had such negative things to say about the people in that minority group."

    Indian boarding school literature is one good place to start, as mentioned above. Another would be abolitionist literature--the abolitionists were the "good guys," sure, but some (not all) of them also believed that the problem with slavery was the Africans--get rid of slavery, get rid of the Africans... they wrote plenty of nasty stuff, toward the goal of ending slavery. It was another "with friends like these..." situation.

    By Blogger Penny L. Richards, at 9:27 AM  

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