Eugenics

…our system punishes you for not practicing eugenics by not providing a social safety net.

Neoliberal Eugenics 1: Selective Abortion – Leslie’s Blog

Is there really no place for us in the world?

Frank Stephens
A man with Down's syndrome dressed in a suit and tie testifies before US Congress. Caption reads: Is there really no place in the entire world for us?
Is there really no place for us in the world?

Dignity

Because before we talk about death with dignity for disabled and ill people, we need to achieve life with dignity for disabled and ill people.

People don’t make the choice to die in a vacuum. Many of the worst parts of living with a disability — Isolation, being homebound, being a burden that family has to struggle to care for — those are all failures in disability service delivery, not things inherent to the condition.

Sara Luterman, The NOS-Letter

But this concept of “dignity” still comes with an ableist miasma.

Remember that our judgments about the quality of life have nothing to do with the value of life.

By claiming there is no “quality of life” for a person who must have carers, who can’t work, or who may otherwise not be accepted by society, they also claim there is no value to their lives. However, if you talk to disabled and neurodivergent people, they don’t seem to be of that opinion. Not one bit.

Whatever our societal notions of quality are, they have nothing to do with how much a person values their own life or even how valuable their lives are to society.

Neoliberal Eugenics 2: Euthanasia – YouTube, Transcript: Neoliberal Eugenics 2: Euthanasia – Leslie’s Blog

A Jacobin article on assisted suicide—that doesn’t mention ableism by name once—has socialists sounding like capitalists, joined in ignorance of disability, neurodiversity, and the social model. A thread among disabled and neurodivergent people discussing the article brought to our attention these two videos on neoliberal eugenics that socialists and capitalists and all those in between need to view.

So much disability activism has to focus on proving our lives are valuable.

If I may jump back to babies, I think many parents, when they elect to abort disabled babies, do so because they had specific ableist ideas about who their child would be before it was ever born. They can’t live with the perceived loss of these imaginary opportunities.

Too many parents aren’t ready to change their conception of what a life “ought” to be and have a restrictive notion of parenting that doesn’t respect their child’s autonomy.

Neoliberal Eugenics 2: Euthanasia – YouTube

Truth, truth, and truth.

If a baby is born disabled (or LGBT), many parents think they must “mourn” the loss of hypothetical “perfect” child rather than accept their child for who they really are.

Don’t mourn for us.

Therefore, when parents say, 

I wish my child did not have autism,

what they’re really saying is, 

I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead.

Read that again. This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure. This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.

You didn’t lose a child to autism. You lost a child because the child you waited for never came into existence. That isn’t the fault of the autistic child who does exist, and it shouldn’t be our burden. We need and deserve families who can see us and value us for ourselves, not families whose vision of us is obscured by the ghosts of children who never lived. Grieve if you must, for your own lost dreams. But don’t mourn for us. We are alive. We are real. And we’re here waiting for you.

This is what I think autism societies should be about: not mourning for what never was, but exploration of what is. We need you. We need your help and your understanding. Your world is not very open to us, and we won’t make it without your strong support. Yes, there is tragedy that comes with autism: not because of what we are, but because of the things that happen to us. Be sad about that, if you want to be sad about something. Better than being sad about it, though, get mad about it–and then do something about it. The tragedy is not that we’re here, but that your world has no place for us to be. How can it be otherwise, as long as our own parents are still grieving over having brought us into the world?

DON’T MOURN FOR US

And don’t eliminate us from the gene pool. Even if value of life arguments don’t move you, we’re here for reasons.

But if you’re killing an entire person to get rid of a non-communicable health condition, maybe think on why you’d feel the need for that. Is it for the good of the child? Is it for the greater good? How do you define that? Maybe it’s because our current system places greater value on a certain type of person? Maybe it’s because our system punishes you for not practicing eugenics by not providing a social safety net.

Source: Neoliberal Eugenics 1: Selective Abortion – Leslie’s Blog

“Maybe it’s because our system punishes you for not practicing eugenics by not providing a social safety net.”

Oh how we feel that line. Our system forces you into continuous ableist dehumanization of yourself and your kids to access a bad semblance of the right to learn differently, work differently, and live differently. From selective abortion to assisted suicide, the process is conception-to-grave.

What you can’t know unless you have #disability is how all the paperwork chips away at your soul.

Every box you tick, every sentence about your “impairment” and “needs” becomes part of the narrative of your identity…

— Gill Loomes-Quinn (@GillLoomesQuinn) April 9, 2018
The many forms of difference. Adaptive Behavior Assessment (ABAS-3), Adult ADHD Self-report Scale (ASRS-v1.1), and Behavior Rating Inventory Executive Function (BRIEF 2) forms spread across a wooden table
The many forms of differenceAdaptive Behavior Assessment (ABAS-3), Adult ADHD Self-report Scale (ASRS-v1.1), and Behavior Rating Inventory Executive Function (BRIEF 2) forms spread across a wooden table
You have the right to food money
Providing of course you
Don't mind a little
Investigation, humiliation
And if you cross your fingers
Rehabilitation

Know your rights
These are your rights

-- Know Your Rights

Disability systems rely on artificial economies of scarcity. Programs are underfunded, so caregivers, teachers, social workers, and disabled people themselves are all pushed to project their needs as necessary and virtuous. 

I Shouldn’t Have to Dehumanize My Son to Get Him Support

Eugenics Is Alive and Well and at the Core

Every issue in our news cycle today – gender affirming care, access to abortions, COVID-19 policies (or rather lack thereof), and racist hate crimes – are intimately tied to the history of the eugenics movement. These are intertwined stories.

The system of eugenics and its resulting platform is inherently racist, sexist, transphobic, ableist, etc. at its core. It’s designed to protect systems of white, cis male privilege, while entrenching systems of oppression into place. And it has a long history.

Our news headlines reflect what oppressed people have long known – eugenics is still alive and well. From the rhetoric used in the recent hate crime in Buffalo, to that coming out of the Supreme Court, to the daily statements of the CDC, eugenics is there at the core.

Nicole Lee Schroeder, PhD on Twitter

Common Sense Ableism and Velvet Eugenics

Yet the cultural impulse to assume that people with genetic variations are in a constant state of suffering, and that it blights our lives, is so pervasive that it is even internalized by some with genetic conditions themselves.

Such genetic determinism is a new form of eugenic thinking grounded in what the communications studies scholar James L. Cherney calls “common sense” ableism, a belief system that allows people to simultaneously deny any commitment to distasteful eugenic principles while also holding them up. Common sense ableism permits, even encourages, such injurious attitudes.

The Dark Side of CRISPR – Scientific American via Aspie Neanderthal Master Race – The NOS-Letter

“Common sense ableism” and “velvet eugenics”. Those terms capture so much. “Common sense ableism” is a deadly fixture of COVID responses.

[A]bleism is that most insidious form of rhetoric that has become reified and so widely accepted as common sense that it denies its own rhetoricity—it “goes without saying.” To fully address it we must name its presence, for cultural assumptions accepted uncritically adopt the mantle of “simple truth” and become extremely difficult to rebut. As the neologism “ableism” itself testifies, we need new words to reveal the places it resides and new language to describe how it feeds. Without doing so, ableist ways of thinking and interpreting will operate as the context for making sense of any acts challenging discrimination, which undermines their impact, reduces their symbolic potential, and can even transform them into superficial measures that give the appearance of change yet elide a recalcitrant ableist system.

Ableism dominates the thinking of our society as a whole and it clearly operates as a discourse of power and domination.

Recognizing ableism requires a shift in orientation, a perceptual gestalt framed by the filter of the term “ableism” itself. The same texts that broadcast “Ableism!” to those oriented to perceive it are usually read innocently even when viewed from a liberal, humanitarian, or progressive perspective. Ableism is so pervasive that it is difficult to identify until one begins to interrogate the governing assumptions of well-intentioned society. Within the space allowed by these rhetorical premises, ableism appears natural, necessary, and ultimately moral discrimination required for the normal functioning of civilization. Consider a set of stairs. An ableist culture thinks little of stairs, or even sees them as elegant architectural devices—especially those grand marble masterpieces that elevate buildings of state. But disability rights activists see stairs as a discriminatory apparatus—a “no crips allowed” sign that only those aware of ableism can read—that makes their inevitable presence around government buildings a not-so-subtle statement about who belongs in our most important public spaces. But the device has become so accepted in our culture that the idea of stairs as oppressive technology will strike many as ludicrous. Several years ago when I began to study ableism, a professor—unconvinced of the value of the project—questioned my developing arguments by pointing to a set of steps and exclaiming, “Next you’ll be telling me that those stairs discriminate!” He was right.

The professor’s surprise suggests that commonplace cultural assumptions support themselves because the very arguments available against them seem unwarranted and invalid. Interrogating stairs was such an outrageous idea that a simple reductio ad absurdum argument depicted the critique of ableism as a fallacy. As an ingrained part of the interpretive frameworks sanctioned by culture, ableism gets reinforced by the everyday practice of interpreting and making sense of the world.

The problem is not that deviance is bad, it is that ableism teaches seeing it that way. The problem is not that being abnormal is unnatural, it is that ableism teaches valuing normalcy that way. The problem is not that ability resides in the body, and that a body with different skills is inherently unable to function in society, it is that ableism teaches knowing ability that way. Confronting ableism as visual, ideological, and epistemic problems does not require us to set aside efforts to change the material order of society—such as working to provide access to public spaces—but it does empower disability literature, art, slogans, and protests as crucial to the effort to change what disability means.

If we locate the problem in disability, then the ableist absolves his or her responsibility for discrimination and may not even recognize its presence. If we locate the problem in ableism, then the ableist must question her or his orientation. The critic’s task is to make ableism so apparent and irredeemable that one cannot practice it without incurring social castigation. This requires substantial vigilance, for ableist thinking pervades the culture. For example, as I write this, I am tempted to use medical metaphors to explain the task and script something like “we cannot simply excise the tumor of ableism and heal the culture, for it has metastasized and infiltrated every organ of society.” Yet this metaphor relies on an ableist perspective that motivates with the fear of death and turns to medical solutions to repair a body in decay. Using it, I would endorse and perpetuate ableist rhetoric, just as I would by using deafness as a metaphor for obstinacy (“Marie was deaf to their pleas for bread”) or blindness to convey ignorance (“George turned a blind eye to global warming”). The pervasiveness of these and similar metaphors, like the cultural ubiquity of using images of disabled bodies to inspire pity, suggest the scale of the work ahead, and the ease with which one can resort to using them warns of the need for critical evaluation of one’s own rhetoric. Yet the task can be accomplished. Just as feminists have changed Western culture by naming and promoting recognition of sexism, the glass ceiling, and patriarchy—admittedly a work in progress, yet also one that can celebrate remarkable achievements—we can reform ableist culture by using rhetoric to craft awareness and political action.

The Rhetoric of Ableism | Cherney | Disability Studies Quarterly

Cognitive Diversity Exists for a Reason

persons hands with rainbow colors

Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species.

A Thousand Rivers

Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general.

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

“Great minds don’t always think alike.” We already understand the value of biodiversity in a rainforest.

To face the challenges of the future, we’ll need the problem-solving abilities of different types of minds working together.

The Best Books on New Books on Autism | Five Books Expert Recommendations

Eugenics isn’t wrong because it’s mean or we don’t have enough information to do it right, though those things are also true, it’s because the entire concept is flawed. Evolution, whether human selected or otherwise, is the process by which an organism adapts to its environment. Let me ask you, viewer: Do you think we should be narrowing our gene pool to select for success in our current socio-economic-political environment? Or, hell, our current actual environment, we already know there’s going to be significant climate change in my lifetime. Isn’t it short-sighted to reduce the gene pool to only that which we can foresee being valuable? Eugenics is based upon the nonsense idea that we should reduce our genetic variation and adaptability, which makes us all incredibly vulnerable to unknown unknowns. Literally the only way humans have survived this far is due to our adaptability as a species.

Explained: Designer DNA– A Disabled Leftist Responds | Leslie’s Blog

ADHD or what I prefer to call Kinetic Cognitive Style (KCS) is another good example. (Nick Walker coined this alternative term.) The name ADHD implies that Kinetics like me have a deficit of attention, which could be the case as seen from a certain perspective. On the other hand, a better, more invariantly consistent perspective is that Kinetics distribute their attention differently. New research seems to point out that KCS was present at least as far back as the days in which humans lived in hunter-gatherer societies. In a sense, being a Kinetic in the days that humans were nomads would have been a great advantage. As hunters they would have noticed any changes in their surroundings more easily, and they would have been more active and ready for the hunt. In modern society it is seen as a disorder, but this again is more of a value judgment than a scientific fact.

Bias: From Normalization to Neurodiversity
adhd text

It doesn’t take long to figure out when observing the natural world that biodiversity creates pathways for organisms to not just survive, but also to thrive within ecosystems.

Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools

If neurodivergence is essentially disablement, why do we keep replicating the gene pool? The less extensive, yet persistent, body of work indicating specialist strengths within neurodiversity, supports the hypothesis that the evolutionary purpose of divergence is ‘specialist thinking skills’ to balance ‘generalist’ thinking skills (as per the ‘spiky profile’). The evolutionary perspective is congruent with the Neurodiversity movement and essential to understanding the occupational talent management perspective that is currently in vogue.

The spiky profile may well emerge as the definitive expression of neurominority, within which there are symptom clusters that we currently call autism, ADHD, dyslexia and DCD.

Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults | British Medical Bulletin | Oxford Academic
green cactuses on yellow wall background

There is consensus regarding some neurodevelopmental conditions being classed as neurominorities, with a ‘spiky profile’ of executive functions difficulties juxtaposed against neurocognitive strengths as a defining characteristic.

Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults

Minority Forms of Human Flourishing Have Been Blocked From View

…the ways we have constructed our ideals of human flourishing unduly exclude neurodivergent modes of flourishing.

…minority forms of human flourishing have been blocked from view. In light of this we suggest that a shift toward what’s been called the neurodiversity paradigm (Walker, 2012) will place the possibility of autistic—and perhaps other forms of—flourishing on the map, making them visible and moreover salient through acknowledging that we are a neurologically diverse species. Beyond challenging dominant conceptions of normal functioning as it is standardly taken to (Chapman, 2019a; Singer, 1999; Walker, 2012), our argument will serve the further purpose of showing that neurodiversity also challenges us to radically broaden our conceptions of the good human life.

…given the diversity of preferences that comes with a neurologically diverse species, we should expect there to be a plurality of ways of flourishing within the human species, many of which diverge from species-standard thriving, and some of which may be rendered invisible due to overly restricted conceptions of human flourishing.

We’ve suggested that autistic individuals encounter testimonial injustice, when they claim to be happy or living good lives, and hermeneutical injustice, seen in the exclusion of neurodivergent modes of flourishing. But it is also vital to consider how these forms of injustice combine and interlock in practice. In day-to-day life, prejudiced stereotypes regarding autistic flourishing and wellbeing culminate in autistic individuals encountering a “catch-22”-like framing, whereby the possibility of being both autistic and living a good life is, to varying extents, unthinkable for many.

Neurodiversity, epistemic injustice, and the good human life – Chapman – – Journal of Social Philosophy – Wiley Online Library

Don’t Edit Me Out

Nearly 1 out of every 5 people in this country has a disability. What would it mean for society to render such a large group of people “unfit” for the human germline? Stories about genetic editing typically focus on “progress” and “remediation,” but they often ignore the voice of one key group: the people whose genes would be edited.

While non-disabled people fear a prenatal diagnosis of disability, disabled people think of the possibilities. How rich would our society be if we all did this? What if that child with osteogenesis imperfecta becomes a world-changing architect because they think differently about how the world is set up due to their disability?

Now think about the message that society’s fear of the deviant — that boogeyman of imperfection — says to disabled people: “We don’t want you here. We’re actively working to make sure that people like you don’t exist because we think we know what’s best for you.” This is ableism. It’s denying us our personhood and our right to exist because we don’t fit society’s ideals.

Please don’t edit me out

I would like to never hear about The Bell Curve ever again.

Prejudiced against all insanity
Values high IQ like it's gospel
Think they've got the right to hate
Those who cannot contemplate
Perceptions of existence
That are default

Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Intellectual disability
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Intellectual disability
Insecurities fuel segregation
Defining through a medical lens
Sneering at the conditions
Loathes neurodiversity
We are the evolution
Of sanity

Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Intellectual disability
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Intellectual non disability

--Sanist by Tommy Concrete

Nothing About Us Without Us

Strong content warning: Holocaust, genocide, ableism, eugenics, euthanasia

My kind were identified
By twisted scientists
Separate by neurology
Focused ideology
The ones of us most profound
Sadly were oven bound
It seems I would have been
A super soldier unseen

Nothing about us
Without us any more
Do not rewrite history
On my account
Nothing about us
Without us any more
Do not rewrite history
On my account
I am not satisfied
To be marginalised
By ableist dictators
Robots patronising me
My condition was revealed
By a creator I oppose
Yet the source of my current chaos
Are my allies allegedly

Nothing about us
Without us any more
Do not rewrite history
On my account
Nothing about us
Without us any more
Do not rewrite history
On my account

--Nothing About Us Without Us by Tommy Concrete

More than two hundred thousand disabled children and adults were murdered during the official phases of the child euthanasia and T-4 programs, and thousands more were killed in acts of “wild euthanasia” by doctors and nurses on their own initiative. Obviously, the notion of transporting hundreds of corpses on roads that had to be kept clear for military convoys was impractical. As clinics, hospitals, and schools throughout the Reich dedicated their resources to the programs, crematoria were built next to these institutions, with conveyor belts to transport the bodies from the Kinderfachabteilungen to the ovens. In some institutions, improvised furnaces on wheels were employed to dispose of the corpses.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (p. 135)

/Strong Content Warning

I first heard the expression “Nothing About Us Without Us” in South Africa in 1993. Michael Masutha and William Rowland, two leaders ofDisabled People South Africa, separately invoked the slo- gan, which they had heard used by someone from Eastern Europe at an international disability rights conference. The slogan’s power derives from its location of the source of many types of (disability) oppression and its simultaneous opposition to such oppression in the context of control and voice.

“Nothing About Us Without Us” resonates with the philosophy and history of the disability rights movement (DRM), a movement that has embarked on a belated mission parallel to other liberation movements. As Ed Roberts, one of the leading figures of the international DRM, has said, “If we have learned one thing from the civil rights movement in the U.S., it’s that when others speak for you, you lose” (Driedger 1989:28). In this sense, “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and “Power to the People” can be recognized as precedents for “Nothing About Us With- out Us.” The DRM’s demand for control is the essential theme that runs through all its work, regardless of political-economic or cultural differences. Control has universal appeal for DRM activists because the needs of people with disabilities and the potential for meeting these needs are everywhere conditioned by a dependency born of powerless- ness, poverty, degradation, and institutionalization. This dependency, saturated with paternalism, begins with the onset of disability and con- tinues until death. The condition of dependency is presently typical for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.

NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US: Disability Oppression and Empowerment

A motto of the self-advocacy movement is “Nothing About Us, Without Us!”. Lots of people talk about us without letting us talk. We should always be part of the conversation, and be in charge of our lives.

WELCOME TO THE AUTISTIC COMMUNITY

We should always be part of the conversation.

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