In the second installment of Sophia Yells At Universities On Social Media: MIT!
I’m not going to go overly into detail about why this article shows that MIT’s new 20 million dollar autism centre is a thinly-disguised eugenics party, mostly because I’ve already done so here on Facebook. (Also not gonna talk about that patronising jerk that responded to me there because honestly fuck that guy.)
What I’m gonna say is this:
If you support this kind of cure/prevent/eradicate talk, you might have any number of reasons for it. You might be a misguided parent who sees how your child struggles and mistakenly blames the autism itself, rather than the world that is so hostile to autistic people. You might fear or despise autistic people because they’re different and that scares you. You might have crunched some numbers and found that actually, a $20 million research grant is what it takes to buy your moral compass.
What you are supporting is this: the eradication of a marginalised group based on their perceived difference from an arbitrary norm. Look, all of this shit is constructed. I’m not saying that neurodivergence itself isn’t real or doesn’t have a real impact, but what I am saying is that it is entirely arbitrary that we are the ones seen as deviant and wrong and broken and diseased. It’s based on a long, complex history of developmental psychology, bigotry, eugenics and hegemony that I’m not going into now because that’s what my dissertation is for. But you know this, that essentially the reason you think autism is bad is because it is different, and because in a world not created to suit our needs we struggle. You think that you get rid of it, and the problem goes away: one more step towards a safe, comfortable utopia.
You need to realise how unstable this really is, though. You need to realise that ableism is part of a complex web of a million other -isms that seek to cement social power in the hands of certain type of person. You need to realise that you are almost certainly not that person, no matter how chalk-white and neurotypical heterodude you are. That’s why you’re scared of neurodiversity or refugees or women: you know your position at the top of the social structure isn’t secured, you’re just pointing at the wrong threat. There is always someone more powerful than you, there is always a group that feels they deserve to be at the top of the food chain, and they are always going to be willing to turn on you in an instance when there is nobody else left in their way.
Do you think, if you get rid of autism, that you and your family will be safe? Do you think the world will stop halfway to passive, obedient homogeneity and say “that’s enough, we got rid of the Bad and now everyone is Fine”? Because what I think is, when the neurodiverse as we know them now are gone, there’s going to be some other difference that becomes a problem that becomes an epidemic, a threat to Families and America and Britain and The Proper Way Of Doing Things, and you have no fucking guarantee that you aren’t going to be in the firing line.
I’d hope that, especially for the parents and families out there, the fact that we, your autistic relatives and loved ones, don’t want to be eradicated would be enough. But if not, if your own ass is more a concern or if you genuinely think that your family would be safer if only they were all neurotypical: bad news, buddy. The marginalised groups of today are the barrier between you and the wolves, and you’re letting us get fucking eaten. Get on side and help us shore up our defences, or you’d better pray like hell that they aren’t still hungry when they’re through with us, because your illusion of normality is a grasping and flimsy protection against predators. The wolves are always fucking hungry.