Democracy in Chains author Nancy MacLean, known for her sensationalist writing and promotion of outlandish conspiracy theories, has ascended to new heights in controversy and ignorance, in a desperate bid to remain relevant.
Last week, MacLean told an audience in New York that James Buchanan and other leaders of the limited government movement “seem to be on the autism [sic] spectrum.”
She went on to pontificate that there is a direct correlation between autism and Libertarianism, based upon her opinion that Libertarians lack “solidarity or empathy.”
According to MacLean, this lack of solidarity and empathy is displayed by Libertarians having “kind of difficult human relationships sometimes.” I certainly hope she writes better than she speaks. Her poorly-communicated assumption is that Libertarianism is the Asperger’s of political philosophy, and that the movement is comprised of people who don’t care about their fellow Americans.
This unapologetic naïveté was MacLean’s reply to a question from an audience member at NYC’s Unitarian Church of All Souls:
Where do [Buchanan’s] motivations lie? Are they ones of personal greed? It seems like it’s a little grander, is it malevolence?
Perhaps her absurd claim would be taken more seriously if she had founded it upon another characteristic of autism: genius. Many clinical studies have shown that there is a provable, direct correlation between autism and a high IQ. Many prodigies, such as Albert Einstein, were on the spectrum. Diagnosed with Low Latent Inhibition (sensory hypersensitivity), Einstein often attributed his genius to his ability to perceive what “normal” individuals are unaware of, because they naturally block it out.
Many experts in the fields of psychology, developmental studies and neuroscience believe that some on the spectrum (roughly 10% are savants) possess abilities such as photographic memory, uncommon spatial skills, phenomenal computer coding abilities, card counting, etc. due to their ability to achieve a higher level of focus than the average human being is capable of.
However, it is childishly discriminant and grossly uneducated to infer that “tuning in” on a task necessarily means tuning out other people. While some on the spectrum have social challenges, people like world chess champion Magnus Carlsen have shown that one can socially connect with other people while focusing on a specific task, even when they are, in fact, your opponents in a chess match.
If Nancy MacLean wants to call Libertarians geniuses, so be it. Perhaps we’ll forgive her for her discriminatory, classless, ignorant comments towards those on the spectrum. After all, she’s only average, we can’t hold her to the same standards of intelligence as Libertarians.