The Daily Kos, probably the foremost progressive political blog in the nation, just wrote about my recent article "Why Progressives Don't Get Autism" -- and did a fair-minded and self-reflective job of it. That's probably why so many of their readers are up in arms.
A writer who goes by the name Critical Dune started his post this way: "Dan Olmsted, Editor of the blog "Age of Autism" and former wire service reporter, offers up an interesting (and pretty thoughtful) analysis, pointing out what he thinks is a blind spot for many on the left: the issue of questioning current vaccine policy, especially as it relates to possible links with autism." (See here.)
Dune added: "Wherever you stand on this issue, or if you firmly think it's a non-issue, Olmsted points out some troubling behavior in the public health complex that should concern progressives."
That is music to my ears. The point of my article was that so many progressive outlets -- I named the Daily Kos, among others -- are so supportive of government-sponsored efforts to improve people's health that they can't believe, won't consider and completely miss the devil in the details, the devil in this case being strong evidence that excessive zeal in the service of good intentions has led to horrific unintended consequences.
The book Mark Blaxill and I just published, "The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic," shows how the reckless use of mercury -- including but not limited to mass vaccinations -- triggered the Age of Autism as well as other severe ailments over several centuries. Built on a foundation of deep research and fresh discoveries, it's not an argument that can easily be dismissed with the usual "anti-vaccine," anti-science canard, but reflexive progressives who choose to remain condescending and uninformed just can't seem to help themselves.
I wrote in my piece:
"Progressives ought to be able to make this distinction, to tease out the fundamental public good from an inadvertent and ongoing disaster and the long failure to confront and fix it. If for no other reason, they should do this because when public action fails due to mismanagement, it plays into the idea that the public sector can’t run anything as well as private business, and the progressive movement inadvertently validates the conservative critique. Instead, public health officials are now trying ever harder to stifle the debate, preserve the status quo and their own careers and credibility; in doing so, they betray not only the children they are charged with protecting, but the progressive values that led to mass vaccination in the first place."
"As a progressive, I strongly believe in public health initiatives all over the world to aggressively fight disease but think that a robust system of checks and balances is not what it ought to be in the United States. It worries me greatly that for some definable, and perhaps not so small, subset of kids with immune system vulnerabilites (like Hannah Poling and others), it's plausible that some components or timing of the recommended immunization schedule may be doing more harm than good."
Here we have something rare and worth nourishing -- common ground. I welcome that, and hope it provides the basis for more discussion -- not necessarily agreement, but honest and open argument. Of note, the first of the nearly 200 comments responding to the post began with the word "Bullshit," and many were of the hostile "study after study," babies-with-deadly-diseases ilk. Why not go over to Kos and join the discussion -- and put in a kind word for the author of one of the few truly welcoming and open-minded pieces I've ever seen from a progressive outlet.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.
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