Can we please stop with the smug, self-righteous virtue signalling and emotional blackmail being used to try to divide the autism community under the pretence of unity?
It’s negative, it’s tiresome… and it’s dishonest!
By JOHN COUNSEL
Disclosure: I have Asperger’s Syndrome, diagnosed in December 2002, when I was 57 years old. I’m the father of five adult children with Asperger’s Syndrome and the grandfather of fourteen grandchildren, from late twenties to pre-school-age, the majority of whom are autistic in varying degrees of ability, most of them diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. My co-parent/grandparent/great-grandparent is a Neurotypical woman and retired primary school teacher. During her final years of teaching she specialised in emergency teaching in classes with Aspie students. We married in 1968.
In recent years we’ve seen a rising tide of “political correctness” — really nothing more than an insidious new incarnation of the age-old manipulative tactic of emotional blackmail — in the form of “virtue signalling”.
It’s disappointing to see it beginning to infest the autism community using the tired, discredited, doctrinaire Marxist “social justice” arguments promoting a coercive option of equality of OUTCOME rather than the more enlightened, practical and liberating principle of equality of OPPORTUNITY. (And please… before you accuse me of simply regurgitating Jordan Peterson’s ideas, understand that when I first began writing about this concept during post-grad studies, Peterson was exactly four years old, okay?)
In a nutshell, the contention seems to be that the terms “Asperger’s Syndrome” and “high-functioning autism” are elitist and exclusive (ie: non-inclusive) terms meant to distance these conditions from “low-functioning” autism in some kind of reprehensible attempt to discriminate against those who aren’t “high-functioning”.
Those promoting this contention tend to present their arguments in the form of “virtue signalling” — in other words, claiming for themselves the high moral ground to justify their too-often-implied assertions (ie: innuendo) that the “elitist” terms “Asperger’s Syndrome” and “high-functioning autism” are discriminatory and should be erased in order to protect our “low-functioning” brothers and sisters from that discrimination.
(Yes, it’s a circular argument, but when did that ever stop those who deliberately adopt such deceptive, divisive tactics? And if they claim they don’t do it deliberately, then which do you prefer? Being told what and how to think by people who don’t know what they’re doing… or by manipulators who know exactly what they’re doing?)
I find it bemusing that they go to such pains to proclaim their “solidarity” with those more seriously affected than they are… but at the same time they make sure that no-one reading their virtue-signalling propaganda is likely to mistake them for those they claim to champion, right?
(Can you pronounce the word “h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y?”)
The “Spin” begins…
So it’s now their Standard Operating Procedure to denounce Hans Asperger for his involvement in Nazi eugenics programs, taking scandalised offence at this “proof” of his despicable character and using it to justify their self-appointed campaign to delete his name from collective memory… without, of course, bothering to learn HIS side of the story. (Makes you wonder what spin they’d put on the actions of Asperger’s fellow-countryman (Austrian), Captain Georg von Trapp?)
For a more informed and balanced view, view this exchange from September 2019 on the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information > National Library of Medicine > National Institutes of Health (USA):
Non-complicit: Revisiting Hans Asperger’s Career in Nazi-era Vienna
Department of Anthropology, Florida State University, USA
School for Advanced Research, New Mexico, USA
Abstract: Recent allegations that pediatrician Hans Asperger legitimized Nazi policies, including forced sterilization and child euthanasia, are refuted with newly translated and chronologically-ordered information that takes into account Hitler’s deceptive ‘halt’ to the T4 euthanasia program in 1941. It is highly unlikely that Asperger was aware of the T4 program when he referred Herta Schreiber to Am Spiegelgrund or when he mentioned that institution 4 months later on the medical chart of another (unrelated) girl, Elisabeth Schreiber. Asperger campaigned vigorously from 1938 to 1943 to have his specialization, Curative Education, take priority in the diagnosis and treatment of disabled children over other fields that promoted Nazi racial hygiene policies. He neither disparaged his patients nor was he sexist. By 1938, he had identified the essentials of Asperger syndrome and described an unnamed boy whom he later profiled (as Ernst K.) in 1944. Rather than doing ‘thin’ research, Asperger made discoveries that were prescient, and some of his activities conformed to definitions of “individual resistance.”
Response to ‘Non-complicit: Revisiting Hans Asperger’s Career in Nazi-era Vienna’.
Department of Ethics, Collections and History of Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Institute for the History of Medicine and Ethics in Medicine, Charité – University Medicine Berlin, Germany.
Abstract: In her recent paper ‘Non-complicit: Revisiting Hans Asperger’s Career in Nazi-era Vienna,’ Dean Falk claims to refute what she calls ‘allegations’ about Hans Asperger’s role during National Socialism documented in my 2018 paper ‘Hans Asperger, National Socialism, and “race hygiene” in Nazi-era Vienna’ and Edith Sheffer’s book ‘Asperger’s Children.’ Falk’s paper, which relies heavily on online translation software, does not contain a single relevant piece of new evidence, but abounds with mistranslations, misrepresentations of the content of sources, and basic factual errors, and omits everything that does not support the author’s agenda of defending Hans Asperger’s record. The paper should never have passed peer review and, in view of the academic credibility of all parties concerned, it should be retracted.
More on Asperger’s Career: A Reply to Czech.
Abstract: Czech’s claims that my paper abounds with mistranslations, misrepresentations, and factual errors are refuted point-by-point, as is his declaration that the paper contains no relevant or new evidence. Asperger’s statements that Franz Hamburger saved him from the Gestapo are reaffirmed and supported with a personal communication from Asperger’s daughter, Dr. Maria Asperger Felder. Czech’s criticism of anonymous peer reviewers and his call for retraction of my paper are, at best, unconstructive. In light of the current resurgence of authoritarian governments that promote xenophobic and racist ideology in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, it is essential that details about the Nazi euthanasia program continue to be recalled and deliberated, as they are in this exchange. I stand by my paper.
They strenuously emphasise their intellectual and emotional solidarity with their (less able) brothers and sisters… “we’re all autistic, after all”. They ignore the pragmatic reality behind the removal of “Asperger’s Syndrome” from the DSM-5and ICD-11 — confirmed by several members of the panel responsible for its removal — that outdated legislation and eligibility criteria that determine eligibility for support services and their FUNDING have been preventing Aspies all around the world from receiving bureaucratic approval for that funding and support ever since the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome first appeared in the DSM-IV in 1994… and that the fastest and simplest way to remove that obstacle was to make it part of the overall umbrella of ASD (which it always was).
A steady stream of virtue-signalling articles and blog posts has been rolling out ever since, insisting that this change was made solely because the professionals on these advisory panels decided that “Asperger’s Syndrome” and “high-functioning autism” were just discriminatory labels.
The case for retaining the use of “Asperger’s Syndrome”
(Did you notice that I did NOT say “the case for retaining the formal diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome”?)
The simple fact of life is that the terms “Asperger’s Syndrome” and “Aspie” now have very precise, fixed meanings that NOBODY can change or eradicate!
No amount of wishful thinking — nor “political correctness” — can change those fixed meanings, not even by trying to remove them from the language.
What it really boils down to is this: trying to deny people who meet the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome the use of that descriptive form of identity is actually a form of “reverse” discrimination.
Especially when so many of the same people promoting this anti-Aspie propaganda are such stridently-vocal advocates of identity politics in other areas.
An example: Let’s imagine you’re an Aspie with skills, expertise and experience that enable you to fill an important, senior management role for which you’ve applied. And it’s crunch-time… interviews, face-to-face, with the decision maker or makers who’ll make the final choice of candidate for the role for which you’ve applied.
On the documentation for your application, where it asks for details of any health conditions that may affect your capacity or ability to fill this role, you’ve written “Autism”, while another applicant has written “Asperger’s Syndrome”.
The response of the interviewer(s) will be very much influenced by their perception of what those two terms mean to them.
In too many instances it will amount to perceived differences between…
Or, if we remove it from the field of neurological divergence, we could compare the differences in applications for a job that requires manual dexterity — such as typing skills or use of tools requiring fine motor skills — and the choice was between two disabled applicants — a quadriplegic and a paraplegic. But, because of a misguided employment policy that demands equality of OUTCOME rather than equality of opportunity, no mention is allowed of any differences in abilities or fitness for the role.
They say that “stupidity is its own reward” — and equality of outcome is a very special kind of mass stupidity, much like the herd instincts of lemmings.
It’s time to wake up to reality, folks.
Don’t cave in to emotional blackmail!
©2018 John Counsel. All rights reserved.