The autism "Holocaust"? Why antivaccine advocates are not autism advocates

A typical response to a charge of being antivaccine coming from someone whose rhetoric is definitely antivaccine is to clutch her pearls mightily and retort, "I'm not 'anti-vaccine.' I'm pro-vaccine safety." Similarly, a common retort of antivaccinationists who believe that vaccines cause autism, particularly those who believe that vaccines caused their children's autism, is to declare themselves "autism advocates." Indeed, the bloggers at one of the most wretched hives of scum and antivaccine quackery on the whole Internet, Age of Autism, routinely declare themselves an autism advocacy organization. They're not anti-vaccine. Oh, no. How dare you call them that? Unfortunately, not infrequently they manage to pull off the act well enough to be taken seriously by government agencies as actual autism advocates.

These two claims of antivaccine groups (that they're not antivaccine but that they are pro-vaccine safety and autism advocates) are easily falsified. Indeed, I've documented numerous examples over the years that antivaccinationists who claim the mantle of vaccine safety are, in fact, doing nothing of the sort, but what about the second claim, that they are advocates for autistic children? This claim, too, is belied by their words and behavior. In particular, I've pointed out over the years penchant such people have for comparing the "autism epidemic" (which was always there but disguised under different diagnoses) to a "Holocaust," making vaccine manufacturers the Nazis because their products are blamed for causing this "Holocaust." It's an analogy that I've pointed out more times than I can remember over the years, one used by no less majors figure in the antivaccine movement than Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Dr. Bob Sears.

All of which serves as background for a particularly illuminating post by Dan Olmsted (although it illuminates in a manner not intended by its author), entitled, Is Autism a Holocaust? Riffing on a book with a typical antivaccine title, The Autistic Holocaust: The Reason Our Children Keep Getting Sick by Jon Mica. This led Olmsted to wonder "whether calling autism a holocaust, capital H or lower h, in a book title or anywhere else, is simply out of bounds." Personally, from my perspective, if you ask that question in a manner in which the answer could go either way, yes or no, you are almsot certainly an antivaccine loon. Certainly Dan Olmsted is that. So are the people he posed this question to, Bob Krakow, Lou Conte and John Gilmore. They all more or less agreed that it's probably not ever appropriate to call the "autism epidemic" a holocaust (either big-H or little-h), but the reasons they give for their answers are pure antivaccine pseudoscience.

Let's start out with Bob Krakow, a lawyer known for representing parents who believe that vaccines caused their child's autism. He doesn't think that the comparison is "not appropriate and does not serve the interests of our children." Obviously. But then get a load of his reasons:

Naming what has happened to our children a ”Holocaust" calls for a comparison that diminishes what happened to the children, but distorts the sense of what has happened. It is a facile comparison and unhelpful. What happened to our kids is something new, devastating and horrible. The response to the devastation - in many levels - warrants extreme moral outrage. But there is no Fuhrer orchestrating a systematic exercise of killing against one or more groups based on ethnicity or belief. In fact, what is happening here today is more insidious and less obviously evil, so it is more challenging to identify and counter. “Autism” - a word I equate to a slave name because it is, in a sense, a medical euphemism, which means little and signifies ignorance about cause -- is also not a good word for what afflicts our children.

Choice of language is important. Using the word “Holocaust” is use of a word that is a sort of blunt linguistic instrument that fails to describe what has happened. It will also offend certain groups and elicit resistance to our narratives - although that is not my primary concern. We have to use our own language, new language, not use comparisons that are inapt.

So, in other words, Krakow objects to the use of the word "Holocaust" to describe autism but has no problem comparing autistic children to slaves, referring to the word "autism" as a "slave name." I'd agree with Krakow that the use of language is important. Indeed, it's very important. Building on that assertion, I'd point out that Krakow's choice of the term "slave name" reveals far more about his views and language strategy than perhaps he might want to reveal. He's also demonstrating a whole lot of racial insensitivity; one wonders what African-Americans think of his use of the term "slave name," given the history of slavery in this country. I can't help but wonder whether Krakow is Jewish (he is listed in two Jewish business directories, but that doesn't necessarily mean he is Jewish). If Krakow is Jewish, then it's hard for me not to see his objection to the appropriation of the word "Holocaust" to describe autism coupled with his concurrent use of the word "slave name" to describe autism as nothing more than a Jew being upset at someone misappropriating his people's history while hypocritically being more than willing to misappropriate African American history to serve his rhetorical purpose.

Besides, elsewhere, it's clear that Krakow's quibble is only a matter of degree:

Those of us who are vaccine safety advocates should learn to stop leading with our chin so that we do not provide our adversaries with easy opportunities to focus on side issues. Mass injury to children by vaccines is not the" holocaust" and it is not "genocide"; it is its own modern form of atrocity that requires and merits its own language.

In other words, he doesn't like the term "Holocaust" applied to autism and vaccines not because it is a bad analogy (although it is beyond breathtakingly bad) but rather because he thinks that it's a bad strategic move for his side.

Similarly John Gilmore objects to the use of the word "Holocaust" only because it has associations with the Nazis that are "too powerful," but then he can't resist undermining his response by pointing out that among the first victims of the Nazis were the developmentally disabled. To this observation Conte couldn't resist adding the history of eugenics, because, you know, vaccination is just like eugenics.

Lou Conte prefers a different term than "Holocaust":

Which is why I refer to what we're experiencing as being "The Great Poisoning."

It's not just a poisoning of our children but a poisoning of our morals, of our public institutions and sense of what people should do for each other.

Let's be clear here. This isn't about disease prevention or public health any more.

It's about corporate profit and if you can get the government to mandate the use of drugs, billions can be made. NY just mandated the meningitis vaccine on a population where meningitis hasn't happened in 5 years. NY did this because it could, because they were paid to do it and because they didn't even care enough to question it.

Hundreds of young people will be injured by a drug they don't need - many seriously. They will be poisoned so that pharma can make a few billion more.

I commend Conte on his restraint in not bringing up Bayer, which was a division of I.G. Farben spun off from the company when it was broken up after the war. (I. G. Farben made the Zyklon B used to kill Jews in the gas chambers.) Yes, that's sarcasm, in case that's not obvious enough and in case someone tries to quote mine me.

Of course, the comments, as is so often the case, show the depths of craziness in the antivaccine movement. Conte, Gilmore, and Krakow might not think that referring to autism as a holocaust is a good idea, but AoA denizens disagree. Here are a few examples:

no-vac:

Holocaust is very appropriate word for massive maiming and extermination of already 2 generations of American children for profits of pharmaceutical mafias. We can' use euphemisms anymore for description of this genocide.

Linda1:

"I don’t think the word Holocaust is too extreme. But perhaps some might want it spelled with a small h.. / “holocaust.”"

?

How about all caps - HOLOCAUST. Is mass poisoning and murder since WWII less important? Less noteworthy? Less horrific? Are we anesthetized?

Shannon Epstein:

Sorry, but it is a holocaust. It just is.

Danchi:

If people don't like the word Holocaust, how about:

Federal and State sanctioned Genocide.

Holocaust or Genocide-either one works for me but actually neither one is strong enough to characterize what has become the destruction of several generations of people not only in the US but around the world.

Dawn Loughborough:

These are atrocities against children. This is a holocaust happening now and it has to be stopped.

Cia Parker:

I think the word Holocaust is appropriate. Our children have been flung onto the altar and burnt there to sate the thirst for corporate profits. Burned on the altar of Mammon. All of the imagery evoked is moving at the deepest levels of our soul. The perversion of the worship of God to that of the scientist and doctor in the white coat claiming to have taken the place of God in the religion of Science, while behind the scenes it is the power and money-obsessed plutocrats who are throwing children into the flames, while proclaiming that they are really saving lives, don't look behind the curtain. Imagery of millions of Jews being rounded up and led to the slaughter, most of them submissively and uncomprehendingly. Both of these image pictures are accurate. They are obscene, but again, that is exactly how to describe what is happening. It is obscene.

So, whenever you see antivaccinationists try to co-opt the language of advocacy for autistic children and of drug and vaccine safety, remember this. There is a large contingent of antivaccine activists who truly and honestly believe that describing the results of the vaccine program, the most prominent of which to them is an "autism epidemic," are quite properly described as a holocaust and that comparing these results to the actual Jewish Holocaust is not beyond the pale. And if autism and vaccines are the equivalent of a big-H or little-h holocaust, what, then, does that make pharmaceutical companies and pro-science advocates like us? Nazis.

That's all you need to know about what many antivaccinationists think about autism and why their donning the mantle of "vaccine safety" and "autism advocacy" is a sham.

More like this

It's very clear that many antivaccinationists hate autistic children. The language they use to describe them makes that very clear. Such children are "damaged" (by vaccines, of course); the parents' real children were "stolen" from them (by vaccines); they are "toxic" (from vaccines); the "light…
I remember when I first heard on Twitter yesterday afternoon that our President-Elect, Donald Trump, was going to meet with longtime antivaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Remembering how Trump had met with antivaccine "hero" Andrew Wakefield before the election and how after the election…
Later today, I'll be on my way to New York City to take part in the Science-Based Medicine portion of NECSS. I'm very much looking forward to it, not the least because I haven't been to New York in five years but even more so because I look forward to meeting up with the rest of the SBM crew and…
One of the most insidious and oft-repeated myths of the antivaccine movement is that vaccines cause autism. Certainly, it is true that there was an antivaccine movement long before anyone thought of linking vaccines to autism. For example, in the the 1980s the DPT (diptheria-whole cell pertussis-…

They all more or less agreed that it’s probably not ever appropriate to call the “autism epidemic” a holocaust (either big-H or little-h), but the reasons they give for their answers are pure antivaccine pseudoscience.

So these three have the minimal amount of self-awareness to be wary of invoking Godwin's Law, but little or nothing beyond that. That puts them above the quoted AoA commenters, who have no issue with committing argumentum ad Hitleram.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

Naming what has happened to our children a ”Holocaust” calls for a comparison that diminishes what happened to the children, but distorts the sense of what has happened.

Orac, I think you might've missed a bit here. Krakow doesn't like "Holocaust" because, apparently, autism is worse than the mass murder of millions of people. From how I'm reading it (and some of the comments you quote), calling autism a holocaust, to these people, is like calling an amputation a scratch.

If the Nazi's holocaust had been the kind of 'holocaust' that antivaxers freak out about today, then Hitler would have been remembered as a great man who helped to end preventable diseases.

Repeat after me,
IMPROVING PUBLIC HEALTH IS NOT a F***ING HOLOCAUST!

At Pomona College, the Pomona Student Union is hosting a discussion called "Beyond Vaccine Wars: A Look at the Politics and Legislation of Vaccination" this coming Monday (11/16) night. (https://www.facebook.com/events/159477557739827/).

Somehow they feel that Bob Sears and Jennifer Margulis are appropriate for 2 of the 4 members of this discussion panel convened "for a discussion on vaccination policy, looking at the intersection of public health, individual choice, and the role of our government."

Here's to hoping the students/faculty of Pomona realize the true nature of these two anti-vaccinationists, though I suspect not, as these two AVers are are billed as:

1. Jennifer Margulis, PhD: Former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism; featured in PBS Frontline’s “The Vaccine War;” author of “Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happy, Healthier Family”

2. Dr. Bob Sears, MD: Orange County pediatrician; Founder of the non-profit Immunity Education Group

There's so much more that could (and should) have been said about both, such as Margulis saying on screen for PBS's front line that "As a parent, I would rather see my child get a natural illness and contract that the way that illnesses have been contracted for at least 200,000 years that homo sapiens have been around. I’m not afraid of my children getting chicken pox. There are reasons that children get sick. Getting sick is not a bad thing." Or Sears with his offensive and insane Holocaust comparisons as well as how Sears has been called directly causative (by Dr. David Núñez, Family Health Medical Director for the Orange County Health Care Agency) for the decreased vaccination rates in Orange County that have fueled two pertussis and two measles outbreaks there. But nope, he's just a pediatrician and harmless founder of a non-profit to "educate" us on "Immunity".

I sure hope these college students don't think Sears represents pediatricians when it comes to vaccination. But then again, since the AAP has refused to expel or even criticize Sears and the California Medical Board has not disciplined Sears, thost students might well think this is how pediatrician all over the US think and practice.

By Chris HIckie (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

Not only is vaccination a HOLOCAUST, but at the same time it's APARTHEID (separating out the children of vaccine refusers to private/religious schools and home schooling).

To paraphrase a certain Palestinian leader, where is the De Klerk of the pro-vaxers?*

*we already know Orac is their Goebbels.**
**just kidding, fer chrissake.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

As Kim notes ( AoA: " Georgia Mom....")-
"Welcome to the tribe of the dead".

Similarly, a commenter on Dan's Holocaust article speaks of-
" massive maiming and extermination".

Some anti-vaxxers remark elsewhere that vaccines/ the government/ doctors "destroyed" or "stole" their child. After vaccines, the child was "gone".

Which is odd because the child is right there NEXT to them- living, breathing, feeling, thinking, eating, playing, learning.

This has always bothered me: what does it mean to conceive of a person as being "dead" ?
The dead feel nothing, see nothing, know nothing and have no future; nothing can be done to change their state.

I recall a play ( I forget which) where a father says angrily to his son:
" You're dead to me" thereby dismissing him- curtailing their relationship and any responsibility he has as a parent.

Recently, Kim ( again) described her daughters' conditions as being a form of Alzheimers-
thinking of the usual course/s of this illness leads me to worry about these young women.

What's truly 'dead' ( and should be) is the parent's idealised notion of a what a child is supposed to be:
perfect, brilliant, something about which one can brag, an avenue for the parent's thwarted dreams, something to credit oneself for creating or forming both physically and intellectually.

We've discussed the mixed messages anti-vax women transmit about feminism and women's roles :
I wonder if this over-focusing and fetishisation of children's future successes and their "braggability" quotient is an indicator of their own problems with identity.

As if this isn't bad enough:
I've recently watched videos at TMR's new "television" work.
Ten channels, endless recitative. raising money for woo.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

“Autism” – a word I equate to a slave name because it is, in a sense, a medical euphemism, which means little and signifies ignorance about cause — is also not a good word for what afflicts our children.

^^I think this is the tell that reveals the underlying motive for the exercise.***

They want to go in a Thompson/Nation-of-Islam direction.

And the H-word (and/or the h-word) is problematic in that regard.

Quoth Louis Farrakhan:

German Jews financed Hitler right here in America...International bankers financed Hitler and poor Jews died while big Jews were at the root of what you call the Holocaust...Little Jews died while big Jews made money. Little Jews [were] being turned into soap while big Jews washed themselves with it. Jews [were] playing violin, Jews [were] playing music, while other Jews [were] marching into the gas chambers....

And quoth Khalid Abdul Mohammed:

You see, everybody always talk about Hitler exterminating 6 million Jews...but don't nobody ever asked what did they do to Hitler? What did they do to them folks? They went in there, in Germany, the way they do everywhere they go, and they supplanted, they usurped, they turned around, and a German, in his own country, would almost have to go to a Jew to get money. They had undermined the very fabric of the society.

Both quotes are from Wiki.

Current leadership does not publicly advance such views, afaik. But the '90s were not that long ago. So at the very least, they're still held by many, presumably.

They also think Jews were responsible for slavery.

But at least they don't think that while abortion is slavery, and Obamacare is slavery, slavery itself is entrepreneurial risk-taking and capital investment, like Ben Carson.

***Although, just btw, slave names were not euphemisms that meant little and signified ignorance about cause. They were names and they signified ownership.

One particular bright red holocaust meme has had a little resurgence on twitter the last week or so. The one quoting Kennedy saying autistic children wake after a fever and their "brain has gone".

I challenged a few people circulating it to explain why they thought it was appropriate to describe autistic people as brainless and dead.

Response from several of them was that wasn't what he meant, I should play fair, and then I got blocked.

Well, wtf does it mean then?

By VaccineTruthUK (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

Shorter version of #7: They're trying to re-brand for the NOI, which means "slavery model" not "Holocaust model," but the parents don't go for it, because white people don't perceive slavery as harmful to them. In a vague, unconsidered way, it confirms their sense of natural-born superiority, if anything.

@ VaccineTruthUK:

Right.
I notice that TMR Network's video ( the 3 minute one) says that kids with ASDs have
" the nervous systems of Alzheimer's patients, ( the psychological profile)** of war veterans and the immune system of cancer patients" but the "souls of angels".

Dementia like AD is progressive deterioration that results in death. ASD is quite another thing.

** my synonym -I don' want to watch it again.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

Why are so many fanatics also so remarkably stupid?

By palindrom (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

@ palindrom:

Oh, please, please don't make me answer that one.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

@Denice --

Those are interesting similes.

I hypothesize that what they're really saying is that they see themselves as brave and saintly yet super-sensitive warriors who have been tragically afflicted by something irreversible that's both identity-destroying and life-destroying.

That something being: Having a child with autism, figuratively represented as Alzheimer's/cancer.

As Orac so very rightly says, they are not autism advocates.

@Palindrom

I think it's a "why do birds sing so gay?" type of a thing.

@palindrom: It's worse than ordinary stupidity. Some people can't help being stupid. These people are stupid by choice.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

@ ann:

They're seeing these kids as LESS than what they are.
Incapable of learning, having no future, a lost cause.

My guess is that the mother- warrior role seems to mix traditional roles ( mother) with more aggressive, traditionally masculine expressions; others at AoA ( Heckenlively) choose super heroes.
Both seem childish as they are under-articulated and barely tried out in real life. Also displaying black-and-white, good vs evil stereotypical thinking reminiscent of children's stories.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

Also displaying black-and-white, good vs evil stereotypical thinking reminiscent of children’s stories.

Totally. Or religious ones. But that's almost all moral literature, in one way or another.

Narrative is great for some things, but thought isn't one of them.

I would describe adult thought about personal characteristics as being more subtle- blending " good" and "bad" qualities and viewing much of how people ( self and OTHERS) behave as being driven by situational constraints, not entirely due to personality.

Notice also that saintliness and devilry are exaggerations and un-blended portraits of realistic human characterisations. There's research about this in development of. Social Cognition.

More modern literature and more adult-like literary conceptions of others mix good and evil, providing reasons why people behave as they do- part of executive functioning to predict others realistically. Thus, the anti-hero of popular lit etc.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

IMHO, ann is close to the mark on Krakow, but missing some of the subtlety. The "slave name" is 'autism', not Holocaust. The reference to naming does not technically compare ASD folks to slaves. My guess is that the choice of this oblique invocation of slavery is not so much that the anti-vax 'movement' is going full-on in a NOI direction, but a move to make the NOI feel welcome under the anti-vax tent. That is, they want the NOI to go in THEIR direction. It's telling that the analogy is only half-apt. From Krakow's POV, 'autism' IS like a slave name, in that it's imposed on a group of 'subjugated' people by the dominant society. However, the inverse of a "slave name" is what the subjugated choose to call themselves (e.g. Leroi Jones changing his name to Amiri Baraka). And what ASD folks choose to call themselves rejects any implication that they have been "maimed", "destroyed" or are "gone", no better than the walking dead. So, for Krakow, the subjugated are not the kids, but THE PARENTS, for it is their choice to reject the label of 'autism' for 'vaccine atrocity' or whatever.

What's telling to me in Denice's #6 is that having a child be "something about which one can brag" should NOT depend on the kid being "perfect, brilliant ...an avenue for the parent’s thwarted dreams". At least for the kids I've met with moderate to 'high-functioning' ASD, they've had plenty of good human qualities am open-minded and sympathetic parent could brag on...

Narrative is great for some things, but thought isn’t one of them.

I couldn't disagree more. Narrative is the primary tool our species uses for thinking (and as I've noted here before, there's at least some research that supports this, and none AFAIK that refutes it). Like any tool, there are good and bad ways to use it. Warrior and superhero stories are harmful not because they're stories, or even because they're moral tales, but because the morals they deliver are BS.

I think that these parents are being today's typical helicopter parents, wanting to "expose" their children to anything and everything so that they can brag about how wonderful and involved little Johnny or Debbie is, as well as socialize with the other helicopters during the events. But lo and behold, my perfect child isn't perfect, isn't what I bargained for and it must be someone's fault and I can't do/be what I planned and wanted so the child is "dead" and "brainless" as far as I am concerned. It's all about me, the parent and what I want/need/expect. I feel sorry for those kids, as children on the spectrum can advance and learn and do so much if their parents devote themselves to working with them instead of working against vaccination.

Fanatics are not 'stupid'. They are typically 'smart' people in some context, who say and do stupid things in another. I do not believe they choose to 'be stupid'. Rather IMHO they suffer from some sort of dysfunction (we've often invoked something like NPD here) that short-circuits their cognitive functions on certain terrain...

" “Autism” – a word I equate to a slave name because it is, in a sense, a medical euphemism, which means little and signifies ignorance about cause — is also not a good word for what afflicts our children"

Aside from the fact that Krakow is merely substituting one inappropriate and histrionic analogy for another (inappropriate not just in the sense that it's offensive, but also at the more basic level that the comparison makes no sense, since slave-names had nothing to do with euphemism), is he seriously objecting to the fact that doctors give diseases names? Does he think every reference to a specific disease should be a full description of the disease, like those stereotypical "Indian" names, like "heap-big-contagious-disease-that-causes-fever-and-rash" instead of "measles?"

Any one else get the feeling that what he's basically saying is that he thinks autism should be called something like "screaming-head-banging-eating-your-own-poop-disease," or perhaps "vaccine-induced-loss-of-soul?"

Dr. Bob is prob one of the worst antivax autism 'experts.' In his autism book, among other crazy recommendations, he says that...

"I do believe that chelation is appropriate in the follow situations - any child with moderate to severe autism born in 2001 or earlier (who therefore received a lot of mercury from vaccines) who hasn't shown much benefit from biomedical treatments could try aggressive IV chelation with an experienced physician."

By Vincent Iannelli, MD (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

@ 23 Sarah A

That's exactly what he's saying. The Big Pharma overlords are oppressing them and damaging their children and "autism" or "ASD" is the name they've used to keep us in control. They didn't choose that name, it's Big Pharma calling it a disorder, when in fact, it's Vaccine Injury.

By Frequent Lurker (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

sadmar @#22: In other words, smart in one field doesn't mean smart in every field. See also Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things" or any of Orac's posts on the subject.

By Chan Kobun, th… (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

@Chan Kobun,
Also explains Ben Carson to a great extent.

Thanks Orac, I was hoping you would pick this one up.

I have to agree with Todd W.@2 though:

Orac, I think you might’ve missed a bit here. Krakow doesn’t like “Holocaust” because, apparently, autism is worse than the mass murder of millions of people.

Actually, for this reason I think this might be the most offensive Holocaust comparison post I've ever seen from thr antivaxers.

(note: all emphasis below are mine)

Naming what has happened to our children a ”Holocaust" calls for a comparison that diminishes what happened to the children [...]

I can't even. I feel like I must be missing something because there's no way this means what I think it does.

In fact, what is happening here today is more insidious and less obviously evil, so it is more challenging to identify and counter.

This belies very poor historical knowledge.

I think we might be dealing with something potentially worse than National Socialism [...]

Sigh...

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

"Autism” – a word I equate to a slave name
"Dropping one's slave name" was more of a 70s / 80s post-Roots thing, wasn't it? People deciding to reject the European-style names that been assigned to their ancestors by those ancestors' owners, and adopting new names that they hoped were more in keeping with those ancestors' pre-enslavement origins? (as Sadmar notes @19).

Krakow has no idea of the origins of the issues he's appropriating, but he won't let that stop him from trivialising them.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

@capnkrunch

Exactly. That kind of rhetoric, possibly more than anything else, shows that they are not, in any way, autism advocates. They do more to hurt efforts to support autistics than, well, pretty much anyone else. They stigmatize autism to such a degree that parents who fall into their clutches lose hope and do things like murder their own children. We saw it when Alex Spourdalakis was murdered by his mother. We see it in the recent murder of Dustin Hicks by his mother.

Possibly one 'reason' ( if I may use that term for unreasonability) they like the word 'holocaust' is because they believe that autism ( like oppression and death in the actual Holocaust) is 'caused' (if I may use that term) by the mechanisations of an illicit government.

So N-zis killed as the US/ UK/ others destroy children.

Government aligned with industry = fascism as I hear over and over.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

Dr. Bob is prob one of the worst antivax autism ‘experts.’ In his autism book, among other crazy recommendations, he says that…

“I do believe that chelation is appropriate in the follow situations – any child with moderate to severe autism born in 2001 or earlier (who therefore received a lot of mercury from vaccines) who hasn’t shown much benefit from biomedical treatments could try aggressive IV chelation with an experienced physician.”

I get the distinct impression that Bob Sears will write whatever it is he thinks the parents who frequent his practice want to read. So at a time when chelation therapy was fashionable in the autism recovery world, Bob Sears put it in his book.

It is all about the kaching for Bob.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

@ Chris #32: Sears has shown, over and over, that he will whore his name out to whatever fills his purse and/or gets him adoration. Those traits make for an irresponsible physician.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

I will keep trying to point out that autism is the result of brain damage by myriad many different causes. Way stations in the brainstem auditory pathway have higher blood flow than any other area of the brain. Evidence of damage by asphyxia at birth and heavy metals has been in the medical literature for decades. Quibbling over particular causes leads nowhere.

By Eileen Simon (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

Chris @4: Damnit Pomona, did you have to pick them?
I wish I had more connections to the current students at Harvey Mudd (super nerd school just up the hill from Pomona) to suggest that the Mudders head on down to this meeting and take them apart.

Aside from being scientists, there are a *lot* of Mudders who are on the spectrum and would not take kindly to being told that they are "braindead".

By JustaTech (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

@sadmar, #20 --

Abstract thinking is also a thing. So is analytic thinking. So is critical thinking. So is rumination. So is contemplation. So are a number of other modes of cognition and intellection that are non-narrative.

I mean, obviously, as Joan Didion so very rightly said, "We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Narrative thinking also has some heuristic value. It's good for planning and goal-setting, too. And etc. It has its uses.

But in the main, I stand by what I said. On its own, it's very limited.

Warrior and superhero stories are harmful not because they’re stories, or even because they’re moral tales, but because the morals they deliver are BS.

I disagree with that in every particular, and also as a whole. Or almost every particular.

Warrior and superhero stories are not categorically harmful.

They're also not categorically moral stories, but when they are, the morals they deliver are not necessarily BS. And even when they are, they're still not categorically harmful.

I'm not sure it would really be accurate to say that they're harmful at all, in the sense that warriors do not go to war simply as a result of exposure to warrior stories and do go to war without having had any.

By and large, imagination and imaginary acts are not, in and of themselves, harmful, imo. They can be influential. But in what way is determined by the recipient of the message, and not by the message itself.

Both warrior and superhero stories are, however, stories. I agree with you there.

I love the picture at the top of this post. This is why Israel presents the annual Adolf Hitler Award for Public Health Service.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

Blame it on all the vaccines I've had over the years, as evident in my World Health Organization International Certificate of Vaccination booklet, but my brain keeps registering holocause instead of holocaust.

By Lighthorse (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

IMHO, ann is close to the mark on Krakow, but missing some of the subtlety. The “slave name” is ‘autism’, not Holocaust.

That seems to me to be not so much subtle as it is a blatant misreading of the text, the point of which is that autism is akin to a slave name, not to the Holocaust, and not that the slave name is not Holocaust but autism.

It goes into much more detail wrt to the Holocaust than it does the slave-name simile. But the reason he's doing that is essentially to appeal to his audience's sense of persecution by arguing that their situation is actually something worse than the Holocaust.

And while he doesn't actually say "slavery inflicted a more serious injury than the Holocaust, and was therefore worse" that's obviously the trial balloon he's trying covertly to float.

...

Such comparisons are otiose, but if, for some reason, the two absolutely had to be compared, I'd say that was a true statement. So at least it has that going for it.

The reference to naming does not technically compare ASD folks to slaves.

The people to whom a slave name is given are slaves. Therefore, the people to whom an autism diagnosis is given, are also slaves. Technically.

My guess is that the choice of this oblique invocation of slavery is not so much that the anti-vax ‘movement’ is going full-on in a NOI direction, but a move to make the NOI feel welcome under the anti-vax tent. That is, they want the NOI to go in THEIR direction.

Yeah. I guess I thought it was self-evident that by "going in a Thompson/NOI" direction, I meant "rhetorically, for the purposes of appealing to the NOI and (by extension) African-Americans generally."

Particularly since that's exactly what my second post/shorter version said I meant.

It’s telling that the analogy is only half-apt. From Krakow’s POV, ‘autism’ IS like a slave name, in that it’s imposed on a group of ‘subjugated’ people by the dominant society. However, the inverse of a “slave name” is what the subjugated choose to call themselves (e.g. Leroi Jones changing his name to Amiri Baraka). And what ASD folks choose to call themselves rejects any implication that they have been “maimed”, “destroyed” or are “gone”, no better than the walking dead. So, for Krakow, the subjugated are not the kids, but THE PARENTS, for it is their choice to reject the label of ‘autism’ for ‘vaccine atrocity’ or whatever.

It goes without saying that the rhetorical figure is intended to resonate with parents, because that's to whom it's addressed.

But since we're talking about parents who think of autism as their cross to bear and their children as personal accessories that aren't the ones they ordered from the catalog at all, which they therefore resent getting stuck with:

It doesn't particularly matter to whom it's applied. The parents are fully pre-aware that all of it is always entirely about them. They don't need to have that hammered home.

And it's not half-apt. It's wholly inapt, because the parents don't think of themselves as subjugated, let alone enslaved. They think of themselves as people who are being discriminated against and persecuted by an amoral, self-seeking institutional power that controls everything and everybody except for those -- who like themselves -- refuse to be subjugated by it.

From a by-stander's perspective, it's actually all too apt wrt the children, since their parents think of them as wholly owned subsidiaries of themselves, not as independent, full-personhood-having beings..

But from the parent's POV, as applied to their children, it's again wholly inapt. Their children are an injury and an insult, as they see it. And to white people, that's just not rhetorically congruent with slaves/enslavement/slavery/slave names.

What makes it a tell is actually that it's such an inapt analogy that he has to explain it in terms that don't apply to slave names or anything else about slavery -- ie, a euphemism that means little and signifies ignorance about cause.

“Dropping one’s slave name” was more of a 70s / 80s post-Roots thing, wasn’t it?

Something something Malcolm X something.

@Narad --

Or -- as sadmar notes -- Amiri Baraka.

Also, note to sadmar:

I apologize for the hostile response.

But you'd have gained in courtesy and lost nothing but the implication that by graciously condescending to improve on someone else's insight you were doing it more of a favor than it really deserved if you'd said something a little more like "My reading was broadly similar to ann's, but I have a slightly different take" and a lot less like "IMHO, ann is close to the mark on Krakow, but missing some of the subtlety."

Comparisons are sometimes otiose-minus.

Something something Malcolm X something.

I think the hip-hop pseudonym tradition is also a modern-day, if you will, version of it: see this still very apropos song by Ice Cube.*

*"And the pigs wouldn't believe that my slave name was Jackson."

Every so often the plant taxonomists re-classify New Zealand orchids, and all the species names change. The Frau Doktorin has tried to convince me that the species have simply abandoned their slave names, but I am NOT FOOLED.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 12 Nov 2015 #permalink

"He doesn’t think that the comparison is “not appropriate and does not serve the interests of our children.”"

Did you mean to include that "doesn't" there?

@Eileen Simon
You sound way more sure of the causes for autism than published research would support. "In literature for decades" sounds a little fishy. You also argue against causes as a valid topic. This blog only refutes the unfounded causes touted elsewhere.

@Todd W / capnkrunch

They stigmatize autism to such a degree that parents who fall into their clutches lose hope and do things like murder their own children.

I already put this link once to a rant over at This week in tomorrow, but I feel it's a message worth repeating. It was putting into words something I was tangentially aware of.
In short, the author agree with you wholeheartedly:

Every time you use the specter of autism as a scare tactic to frighten the world into following you off of Darwin’s cliff, you make life harder for people with autism.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 13 Nov 2015 #permalink

Dangerous Bacon @5
To paraphrase a certain Palestinian leader, where is the De Klerk of the pro-vaxers?

Dr. Richard Pan perhaps?

Denice Walter @ 6 &10,Ann @ 13
You clearly have not lived with a more severe form of autism,or had a family member with a more severe form of autism.I can tell you from personal experience,autism can share many of the same symptoms as Alzheimers or dementia.As someone who has been able to reverse low functioning autism.as an adult,from treatable metabolic causes,I am kind of unique.I have been there.Maybe somebody ought to listen to me sometime.

There is a growing body of research that shows the same areas of the brain are involved in both Alzheimer's and dementia and in some forms of autism.

As for Kim Stagliano,and her daughters,there is clearly something genetic going on here.I would love to see someone offer to give all three of her daughters a whole exome sequence.I had one recently,and I found out that I do not have genetic mitochondrial disease as we thought,but a unique form of a very rare disease of chromosome 11.In an ideal world,I would like to see every child or adult with more severe or more medically complex autism have a whole exome sequencing done.We would no doubt find all kinds of new mutations,deletions,and duplications that would be of much value to science.The people who did mine will either do it free or at very low cost to low cost to low income families.

And yes I know if many of these kids and young adults these parents claim were "vaccine damaged" were found to have rare and unique genetic disorders,the basic doctrines of the antivaccine religion/cult would crumble to bits.That's sort of the idea,and why this will never happen.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 13 Nov 2015 #permalink

@Roger Kulp

And yes I know if many of these kids and young adults these parents claim were “vaccine damaged” were found to have rare and unique genetic disorders,the basic doctrines of the antivaccine religion/cult would crumble to bits.That’s sort of the idea,and why this will never happen.

You underestimate the anti-vaccine ability of twisting anything to blame vaccines. They would argue that the vaccines caused the mutation, either when the child was immunized, or because the parent was immunized, or the grandparent.

@Roger Kulp#47 --

I wasn't commenting on the accuracy or applicability of the description at a literal level, one way or the other.

But I take you at your word. .

Narad's link goes to a push-poll:

1. I Request That The House Oversight Committee Subpoena All of the Authors of the MMR-Atlanta Paper to Discuss Under Oath the CDC Whistleblower Allegations of Changing the Protocol and Failing to Disclose Statistically Significant Finding that African American Boys Who Received the MMR Vaccine Before 36 Months were at Increased Risk of Developing Autism.

Yes. This needs to happen as soon as possible.

No. I do not believe this warrants a Congressional hearing.

Maybe. I do not know enough about the issue.

Thank you for participating in this brief survey. Beth Clay is conducting this survey in order to confirm whether or not there is a strong public desire for the US Congress, in particular the House Oversight Committee, Chairman Jason Chaffetz to subpoena all five authors (Dr. Frank DeStefano, Dr. TK Bhasin, Dr. William Thompson, Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, and Dr. Colleen Boyle) of the 2004 paper, (Pediatrics. 2004 Feb;113(2):259-66. Age at first measles-mumps-rubella vaccination in children with autism and school-matched control subjects: a population-based study in metropolitan Atlanta. DeStefano F1, Bhasin TK, Thompson WW, Yeargin-Allsopp M, Boyle C.) to respond under oath regarding the allegations of scientific misconduct, cover up, malicious and callous disregard to public health if the allegations are true regarding the decade in which no alteration of timing of the MMR in African American boys was implemented.

Please address any questions to info@bethclay.com with 'survey' in the subject line. Your contact information will remain private. I need to gather basic contact information to confirm the validity of the response as well as to be able to show to legislators the geographic distribution of responses. I will email notice of publication of survey findings. Survey Results will be posted at http://www.bethclay.com

Transparency Disclosure: I previously led the House Oversight Committee investigation looking at autism increased incidence with then Chairman Dan Burton. I have previously consulted with organizations involved with autism and vaccine injury. At this time, I have no financial ties to any organization involved in these issues.

Then it asks for name, email address, and zip code. You know how I answered....

To all anti vaccination activists, so I'm basically part of the Nazis to you, the Zycon B to your children, the gas chamber, the medical experimentation, so I as an autistic child am a mini Hitler to you, well newsflash, I'm not, I am a jew in America who is interested in politics and has empathy, does that sound like a nazi to you, does that sound like a member of the Hitler Youth to you, well it may to you, but not to me. This isn't even the worst of it, the worst of this is that you're mocking the true victims of the Holocaust, and the survivors as well. I met survivors of the Holocaust, are you saying that their suffering is the same or NOT AS BAD as your "suffering." You're wrong, they suffered, and you're not suffering at all, especially compared to them. You suck!
Sincerely
Robyn Neibauer

IIRC, the Nazis themselves were not in consensus about vaccines . There was the pragmatic lobby, centred on the Wehrmacht, who argued for sticking with the Weimar policies of compulsory vaccination (because epidemics and unhealthy troops were not an affordable luxury)... and the ideological wing, led by Julius Streicher, who believed that communicable diseases posed no threat to healthy Aryans living in harmony with nature, and that vaccinations were a Jewish conspiracy to weaken the Aryan germ-plasm. Sounds familiar?

The guys at the top papered over the differences and appeased the Natural Immunity crowd with promises of a compromise, a Germanic Integrated Medicine. Anyway, until the advent of SaneVax and VacTruth and AoA u.s.w., the most vile, virulent anti-vax propaganda came to us from mid-30s Naziism.

Sometimes I suspect that these Holocaust appropriators do not quite realise the nature of their intellectual ancestors.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 14 Nov 2015 #permalink

Liz: Methinks it may tend to validate an invalid exercise to vote in Ms Clay's poll. She's not carrying out the exercise for any neutral purpose.

By brian deer (not verified) on 14 Nov 2015 #permalink

@Brian Deer: but it's so much FUN to let Ms Clay know that not all of us a wackaloony antivaxxers. :) I voted, too.

@ Roger Kulp:

Sorry that I couldn't be more prompt in responding**

but I did study these areas ( neurophysiology, development, aging, cognitive) and continue to read about them : I think that we shouldn't be comparing autistics to people with AD - they're not the same conditions- it's not useful.
Of course, if we so choose, we can say that many illnesses or conditions resemble AD- complications of diabetes, stroke, CVD- but they have different causes, courses, treatments and prognoses.

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease of aging where physical barriers - plaques- impedes neurological processes resulting in a loss of functioning.. ASDs are indeed a spectrum but not a progressively debilitating illness. People on the spectrum can be intellectually disabled or not. The courseS of development are different not non-existent - you yourself are an example. There are no grand turnarounds in AD.

I would guess that KS is using this as a way to garner sympathy for herself and possibly, write her daughters off.
Perhaps she doesn't want to say "intellectually disabled" so she goes with AD-. Still, different conditions. And she wants to shrug off any genetic component. It's the vaccines- even fr the youngest who is un-vaccinated ( therefore Kim's vaccines)

If you'll notice, she supports a trade union for workers for the institutionalised ( advert at AOA- it's called VOR- I imagine Liz can tell you more about this). She makes much of her daughters' disabilities and has landed book deals because of that issue. Right, tell us again about their problems with hygiene.

Calling ASDs 'Alzheimer's' paints a rather bleak picture- deterioration until death. You should know that that is not the kindest nor the most accurate prediction.

I think that Kim is busy re-inventing herself as a martial artist and instructor for children ( see her twitter) - other people's children - since her advocacy position isn't working out that well.

I could say more but won't. I don't want to be perceived as being mean.

** as I am recovering from one of my 20 hour whirlwind tours involving 3 hour train trips, Baroque art, diverse hominid skulls and fine Japanese cuisine..

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 15 Nov 2015 #permalink

Denice,I never said they were the same.I did say that to the untrained eye,disorders that cause autism can have the same type of overall appearance as Alzheimer's or dementia.This especially true of metabolic or autoimmune disorders that can manifest as autism.These conditions are usually familal and inherited.Unlike Alzheimer's or dementia,these diseases can be treated,and the symptoms reversed.The problem is,there are too many parents,like Ms.Stagliano,that are too brainwashed by antivaccinationism to investigate the causes of their children's diseases any further.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 16 Nov 2015 #permalink

Oh,that 1 in 45 estimate comes entirely from the way parents filled out a survey.This is probably the best,and most simplified,explanation I have seen of how the CDC determines the incidence of autism.If this is how the CDC has been doing things all along,the whole way they have been counting autism,and other intellectual and developmental disabilities has been flawed and half-a**ed from the start,in my opinion.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 16 Nov 2015 #permalink

The correct Nazi analogy would be one of eugenics - parents don't want to believe they could sire any child with a defect hence their child was born "healthy but got damaged by mainstream medicine." To believe their children were somehow "stolen" is clear they are in the Middle Ages where an autistic child was thought to be a changeling.

Gil
As mother to autistic sons I think you are right ' the correct Nazi analogy would be one of eugenics'. My boys were not quite what I was expecting. None of them have additional severe learning disability but being a parent to 3 children on the autsim spectrum has it challenges. It also has its joys. Sure there are aspects of life that will always be more difficult for them but mostly that is because they are expected to be like everyone else.
Considering autistic people to be 'dead', 'lost' and somehow diseased or damaged is sickening but that is what these people are saying about children who are very like mine once were. Yet they won't hear the voice of adults with autism who say look we are not a tragedy we are people, we have the right to be different and to be accepted as we are not as copies of who you are or who you want us to be.

According to the logic of the anti vax brigade it would be better to risk my children dying from a preventable infectious disease than for them to be as they are - intelligent, talented, honourable, young men any mother could be proud of.

By Catherine Hall (not verified) on 19 Nov 2015 #permalink

Arghhh! Just seen the flyer for Autism One 2016 conference. They have eugenics on the agenda!!

By Catherine Hall (not verified) on 19 Nov 2015 #permalink

@ comments #10, 13 and 16, sadly, what these parents are, are selfish and delusional and not at all autism advocates.

They truly, at the core, are disappointed in what they have created. Their children did not turn out to be what they wanted, and so their parenting expectations, and probably life expectations, for themselves (not their children) have been demolished. Their disappointment (be it in the child or themselves) is so deep that they cannot fathom that the most "natural" thing about autism is it's existence--that the autistic child is as they were biologically intended to be--and so these parents and "advocates" MUST, in a effort to appease their personal feelings find a reason and a cause that is not within themselves.

What autism advocacy should look like is proactive education (for parents and children) and programs to succeed and be accepted in society as "normal," functioning people. what autism advocacy IS NOT, is proclaiming these children to be lost causes or dead.