Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Plenty of sympathy, Hillary, but none for you

The pundits have been saying that Hillary Clinton’s better than expected performance in the New Hampshire primary, in which she narrowly edged Barack Obama in the popular vote and earned the same number of convention delegates, was the result of a much publicized teary-eyed conversation in which she declared her deep feelings of concern for the country. Supposedly, women were moved to vote for her because she was under such great stress and they felt sympathy for her.

Gah. Spare me. I have plenty of sympathy for women who are feeling stressed and are deeply concerned about the country, but the women I have in mind don’t include Senator Crocodile Tears. Rather, I have a mental image of an 18-year-old autistic first-time voter who—like many female teens—imagines that she will someday have a beautiful wedding and a happy marriage and, perhaps, a child somewhat like herself. She may feel enthused, at first, about the historic candidacy of a woman—until she diligently does her research on the candidates and discovers that Sen. Clinton supports the eugenic agenda of Autism Speaks, right down to putting the entire autistic population in the history books. What a way to discover that a democracy, even in the 21st century, cannot be trusted to protect its minority groups—and that certain politicians who claim to care deeply about children and families would have no problem taking part in the extermination of the less popular sorts, if a few votes could be gained by doing so.

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  • Sen. Clinton is not my first-choice candidate and I am very frustrated by her autism position, but it's hard to put all of the blame on her when it's unlikely that she's ever even been exposed to the opposing perspective to any significant extent. I blame the media, Autism Speaks and like-minded organizations, for the fact that this position is so widespread. And I do blame Sen. Clinton partially for adapting it. But I have to consider the context for this. Given popular (mis)conceptions about autism, Clinton probably thinks her position is completely non-controversial. I know other candidates (Obama) are more enlightened, and of course I'm going to take this into account when I vote in the primaries, but I don't really agree with scapegoating Clinton individually when it's the entire system that's messed up. Her position is just a symptom of larger problems.

    Also, I don't think it's entirely fair to characterize her tears as fake when there's no evidence she has that kind of acting capacity. To me, that position just plays into right-wing ideas about Sen. Clinton--she'll do anything to get elected, she's an unfeminine robot, etc.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:56 PM  

  • Why didn't you tell me this before I voted against her?

    By Blogger John Best, at 8:22 PM  

  • Sarah: It's my understanding that for many years, Sen. Clinton has strongly supported eugenic abortion as the "solution" for all sorts of disabilities, and that her position on this issue is more extreme than that of most American politicians. However, you may be right that she wasn't faking the tears; it's got to be upsetting for her to be on the verge of losing the nomination when she had expected it to be a cakewalk.

    Foresam: You voted against her? Maybe there's hope for you yet. :)

    By Blogger abfh, at 8:51 PM  

  • If all the candidates sported similar views, to the same degrees, then it wouldn't be so much a big deal. But there is Obama, who has stated in a video goals in disability policy. He doesn't mention prevention, but rather communication access, accomodations, stuff like that. THere is a youtube video, from the ASA.

    Even ignoring Hilary's support for cure and prevention, she doesn't get into all the things that Obama does, and she hasn't shown much (if any) understanding of the needs and wants of autistics or other disabled people. Even if I thought cure/prevention was a good idea, there are more pressing priorities, that people can use NOW, rather than pouring milions, and millions of dollars into finding a way to weed autistics out of the genepool.

    By Blogger geosaru, at 5:46 PM  

  • I heard that Hillary was associated with some Yale Child Study Center as a student. I wonder if that is the same type of place as that other university child study center that recently ran the advertizement campaign that so many people found offensive?

    It's funny. I remember the term "crocodile tears" being used by an autist friend of mine to describe the behaviour of a devious person that we know. We aren't as dumb as they think we are.

    I'm rooting for the bloke with the grey lips!

    By Blogger Lili Marlene, at 8:02 AM  

  • Lili Marlene: Yes, it's the same sort of place. It's run by Fred Volkmar, who was heavily involved in creating the Asperger diagnostic category and its associated stereotypes. I wrote a rant a while ago describing what those stereotypes have done to autistic university students:

    The Depths of Higher Education

    If that's where Hillary got her ideas about autism, it's no wonder she's so prejudiced.

    By Blogger abfh, at 9:44 AM  

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