Duke Historian Trivializes Autism

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Duke University historian Nancy MacLean, not content to do slap and tickle histories, has gone on to trivialize a malady that afflicts millions.

“Nancy MacLean, the Duke University historian who wrote Democracy in Chains, the deeply conspiratorial and much-criticized biography of public choice economist James Buchanan, told an audience in New York last week that Buchanan and other early leaders of the limited-government movement ‘seem to be on the autism spectrum,’” Robby Soave reports on Reason.com. “According to MacLean, there is a connection between autism and libertarianism, and that connection is not feeling ‘solidarity or empathy,’ and having ‘kind of difficult human relationships sometimes.’”

Arguably, it is Dr. MacLean who lacks empathy, not for conservatives but for the autistic and their families. And you don’t just have to take my word for it.

Soave helpfully gives us an account of a parent who has struggled with his child’s autism but who doesn’t seem to be on the conservative spectrum: “I’ve discussed how ableist people like MacLean use autism as a slur, but I don’t think we’ve ever been accused of being the source of malevolent ideologies before,” wrote Troy Earl Camplin, who blogs about living with Asperger’s syndrome and having an autistic son. “If I lived anywhere near Duke University, I would be outside the History Department tomorrow protesting her.”