In a recent blog entry Autism Speaks, the bane of our community, addressed writer/advocate Steve Silbermann, who recently wrote a fine editorial which I cannot improve upon attacking them. They responded by listing all of the “good things” A$ has done, including referencing our tendency to wander at length. They titled the article A Call For Unity, despite not saying a single thing about unity and simply talking themselves up.
Let me note this: unity is what oppressors and bullies call for. We’re told to “forgive” those who hurt us and to essentially be silent. Forgiveness is a beautiful idea and it is one that I support. But forgiveness is not acceptance. Forgiveness is not rolling over and taking the horrible treatment we get. Forgiveness is having love for those who hurt you as people while you stand against their actions and try to stop them from hurting you.
For A$ to call for unity is the most profoundly misguided thing I can picture. What they really want is for our community to stop calling them out. After all, they are a moneymaking enterprise using the fear of Autism to extract cash from the relatives of bewildered spectrum members and a public that knows it wants to support the cause but is deeply misguided as to how.
See, they’re starting to hit the ropes. Oh they still have Autism Awareness Month, but we’re turning that into Autism Acceptance Month. They have Light it Up Blue but as we’re thanking supporters we’re telling them about A$ and their misdeeds against us. They might run the massive campaigns but we’re doing all we can to get the word out on the truth about them.
And then Silbermann wrote his piece. An editorial in the Los Angeles Times coupled with a book I have yet to read but which has earned raves within the community? That’s a lot of publicity against them. A lot of NTs learning that they’re not what they think. A lot of NTs discovering how rich our lives are.
Here’s the beautiful thing: my blog is one of many. I’m not the only one of us talking. Scores of us are. We’re all trying to express what autism really is. It’s not easy, no, but many of us are happy and we want people to know about it. The constant stream for A$ of how we’ll ruin the lives of our families? We’re amplifying that message to disprove it. I happen to be on great terms with mine for example.
And it all comes down to that word: unity.
We don’t need to unite, we in the autism community. We’re already there. I’ve seen many communities online and most have far greater fissures than ours. Film twitter can be an organized brawl for example. But us? We are united. We’re a group connected by a common series of experiences and challenges. We support each other and work together. We even reject functioning labels, a representation of the commonalities we share. I’ve never known a more loving group in my travels.
And we will never stand united with A$.
Because you don’t join together with the people trying to call you out as a blight on society. You don’t stand side by side with people who don’t recognize your basic humanity. You cannot unite with a group that HATES you.
We are united A$. We’re united against you.