Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hillary Clinton, Talk Is Cheap

Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton gave a commencement address exhorting a group of university graduates to speak out against "the degradation of women or minorities, the weak, the vulnerable, the marginalized."

Nice inspiring sentiment. I'd take her purported concern for justice a lot more seriously if it weren't for the fact that (as I blogged not long ago) Sen. Clinton has made it clear that she wants to "prevent" the existence of "anything along the autism spectrum." She doesn't even acknowledge that the autism spectrum is made up of human beings—apparently we're just inconvenient things to be eliminated.

Several people commented on my earlier post that it appeared Sen. Clinton was speaking out of ignorance and pandering to wealthy supporters, rather than expressing deep feelings of hate. That's probably true enough. There aren't many Americans who actually hate autistics; indeed, there aren't many who even had a clear idea of what the word meant before the recent "autism awareness" propaganda campaign began. Until a few years ago, most Americans just thought of their autistic neighbors and co-workers as people. But ignorance can be deadly, even without deep-rooted malice.

Many of us don't realize how quickly genocidal prejudice can spread. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a comment on the Autism Vox blog from someone who claimed that autistics were not truly human because of differences in mirror neuron function. Here's what struck me about that: Until quite recently, nobody had ever heard of mirror neurons, except for a few neuroscientists in research programs—and I think we can safely say that the ignorant yahoo who posted that comment wasn't one of them. Evidently, for said yahoo, all it took was a dumbed-down popular science article or two, reporting on a preliminary study of mirror neurons (as to which very little is even known yet) to transform millions of people worldwide into some sort of hideous subhuman infestation.

This is not, of course, the first time in history that a minority group has been systematically dehumanized by the twisting of science to fit a prejudiced agenda. In its first go-round, about a century ago, eugenics in America consisted of efforts to prove by scientific means that non-whites were mentally inferior. Researchers often wrote scholarly-looking articles to that effect. Not long afterward, the Nazis had their own doctors and scientists who claimed to have proof that Jews lacked various attributes of true humanity. There were many otherwise intelligent people who actually believed that stuff.

Now it's happening all over again, with the connivance of amoral politicians like Hillary Clinton, whose concern for vulnerable marginalized minorities goes only as far as the campaign donations of those minorities.

If Sen. Clinton really cared about justice for marginalized and misunderstood groups, she would not be participating in an effort to exterminate one.

Eugenics is totally incompatible with respect for diversity.

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  • Hi abfh, I hope that wasn't my comment about mirror neurons you were talking about. If so, I would like to clarify. It isn't that people with disrupted mirror neurons are not "human", rather they are not perceived as "close enough to me" by the one doing the perception to be "perceived" to be "human enough".

    It is all about perceptions, not about who is, or is not "human".

    It is my opinion, that all xenophobia is activated the same way, be that xenophobia by racial, gender, orientation, color, religious or political persuasion, body morphology, or what ever.

    It is like how blacks were perceived by the "founding fathers". They were simply not perceived as human. There was no cognitive justification for that, it was a feeling with no justification. The source of that feeling, is (I think), mirror neuron stuff. They felt xenophobia, and that feeling was reinforced by their ignorance and self-interest in keeping slaves.

    The xenophobia directed against ASD individuals is the same (in my opinion).

    The problem is that most people can't distinguish between their "feelings" about something, and a logical construct about something. Usually they generate a falacious logical construct to justify their feelings. That is what the Nazis did to justify that the Jews were non-human. That is what slave owners did to justify that their slaves were non-human. That is what pro-lifers do to justify that pro-choicers are non-human. That is what (some) religious people do to justify that atheists are non-human. That is what (some) NTs are doing to justify that ASDs are non-human.

    It takes someone with a good intellect and a good grip on reality to distinguish between their feelings about someone or something, and a logical construct about it. I think that Sen Clinton has the intellectual capacity to do that, I know that many of the GOP candidates do not.

    She and Bill has been on the receiving end of irrational feelings of hatred used to rationalize truly bizarre "theories" against them.

    Impeach someone for a BJ? That has to be one of the wackiest things in US history. That simply shows the lengths that people will go to in order to justify their "feelings" about someone.

    By Blogger daedalus2u, at 11:31 AM  

  • No, I wasn't talking about you at all, but about a troll who explicitly stated that he did not consider autistics to be fully human. Sorry about the confusion: here's a link to that comment.

    Another person with similarly bigoted views then jumped into the discussion, started blathering about autistics' supposed lack of empathy, and claimed that the world wouldn't survive unless the autism gene was wiped out.

    I agree with you that such attitudes are based on xenophobia; my point was that this sort of prejudice often spreads virulently, such that any group of people can end up being treated as less than human very quickly.

    By Blogger abfh, at 12:18 PM  

  • Just in case the said person stops by, I'd just like to say that my son is definitely fully human. There is nothing "missing" any more than a blind person cannot see, but is still human, or bald person has no hair, but is still human.

    By Blogger Joeymom, at 2:23 PM  

  • Thanks abfh, I read his comments. Clearly his concept of ASD individuals is pure projection. He is projecting the lack of empahy he has for ASD indiviuals onto ASD individuals. He perceives them to be objects and not people.

    He is exactly exhibiting the behaviors I speak about. He doesn't feel a connection with ASD individuals, so to rationalize his feelings, he constructs a fallacious argument that there is nothing in ASDs to connect to. In another age, he would have dehumanized blacks, women, foreigners, any group that he didn't feel connected to.

    I don't think that Hillery Clinton would make that mistake.

    By Blogger daedalus2u, at 3:08 PM  

  • There's no doubt Sen. Clinton is highly intelligent. It's her ethics, or lack thereof, that I have a problem with...

    By Blogger abfh, at 3:25 PM  

  • I'll be watching the Democratic elections with interest to see which will win: ethics or pandering. It's nice to know that voters will have a clear choice this time. If pandering ends up winning the Democratic nomination, then blame the voters, not Hillary for doing what it took to get elected.

    As we all know, what politicians say to get themselves elected, and what they do after they're elected are two different things. They say what they say to get themselves elected, but then they do what the believe in anyway. If Hillary wins the nomination and subsequent election, we can hope that her reality is *better* than her rhetoric, (while keeping the pressure on), can't we?

    By Blogger Chasmatazz, at 7:38 PM  

  • Based on something a fellow blogger has been emphasizing, I'm not sure that Sen. Clinton's 'misguided' sentiments don't count as institutionalized hate. Especially if the account of someone who wrote to her opposing the Combating Autism Act is true; she got a canned response letting her know that the senator is committed to the fight against this tragedy.

    If it is institutionalized hate, and we keep fighting, we'll probably find out shortly.

    As one author on the subject says:
    ["entitled" refers to those who actually have power and influence, not a reference to disability or other monetary entitlements]

    From the perspective of those who are entitled, the problems begin when those they despise do not go along with—and have the power and wherewithal to not go along with—the perceived entitlement. ...

    Several times I have commented that hatred felt long and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition, economics, religion, what have you. It is when those traditions are challenged, when the entitlement is threatened, when the masks of religion, economics, and so on are pulled away that hate transforms from its more seemingly sophisticated, "normal," chronic state—where those exploited are looked down upon, or despised—to a more acute and obvious manifestation. Hate becomes more perceptible when it is no longer normalized.

    Another way to say all of this is that if the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatred and direct physical force remains underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force and hatred waits in the wings, ready to explode.

    —The Culture of Make Believe, Derrick Jensen

    By Blogger Zaecus Celestis, at 3:40 AM  

  • Beautiful, Mr. Jensen. Just beautiful.

    I know he's not here, but I had to say that.

    I made a similar point in AutAdvo in a discussion on hate crime. I got a lot of opposition there; it's nice to get some validation.

    By Blogger Chasmatazz, at 8:36 PM  

  • Hi, I am just wandering in, but I wanted to thank you for writing about this issue. I am autistic and a fairly close follower of politics, and I assumed that almost all major politicians were pro-cure, but I did not realize how bigoted HRC specifically is against us. I'm going to spread this information around.

    By Blogger lily_in_revolt, at 10:18 AM  

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