Can antivaccinationists knock it off with the autism Holocaust analogies already? (RFK, Jr. edition)

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is despicable.

I just wanted to get that off my chest. (Do clear Plexiglass boxes full of multicolored blinky multicolored lights even have chests?) The reason for my outburst will become painfully apparent all too soon, but I just had to say that. There’s also one other thing that I just have to say as well, and that’s this. When the managing editor of the antivaccine crank blog to rule all antivaccine crank blogs gives me a blogging topic and practically begs me to blog about it, in general I usually blog about it because, well, how can I resist? Think of it this way. When Dan Olmsted says something like “I’m well aware I’m handing Orac his next feces-flinging column,” I feel as though it would be downright unsporting, unchivalrous, even, not to take him up on his offer. I also feel that I owe Olmsted my sincere thanks. it’s not every day I get such a massive, juicy target so deserving of a heapin’ helpin of the not-so-Respectful Insolence that I’ve become known for over the last eight and a half years.

Of course, I must admit to some mild insult that Olmsted apparently thinks that my carefully crafted not-so-Respectful Insolence directed at cranks, quacks, and loons is akin to the sort of poo-flinging that Age of Autism (AoA) bloggers throw hither, thither, and yon upon anyone with the temerity to suggest to them that maybe, just maybe they’re off base in their fanatical belief that vaccines must cause autism. My criticism, Respectful or not-so-Respectful, consists of precision jabs fired exactly where I want them to land. In comparison, AoA bloggers are about as subtle as a brick to the head and even less fun.

In comparison to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., AoA bloggers are veritable Shakespeares of clear and witty thought.

If you have any doubt of that, just take a look at Dan Olmsted’s latest post over at the wretched hive, RFK Jr., Nazi Death Camps and the Battle For Our Future. Yes, it’s every bit as bad as anything you can imagine, and not only is there no subtlety but there is no creativity. I mean, seriously. Nazis? Comparing your enemies to Nazis? How boring is that, RFK, Jr.? Our good ol’ buddy Dan Olmsted seems blissfully unaware of this as he tries his very hardest to see how far he can stick his head up RFK, Jr.’s nether regions. Suffice it to say, it’s pretty far, far enough to see his tonsils from the other side:

Each of us will have our highlights from last weekend’s extraordinary Autism One gathering in Chicago, but for me it was Bobby Kennedy Jr. saying, “To my mind this is like the Nazi death camps.”

“This” is the imprisonment of so many of our children in the grip of autism. Talk about cutting through the neurodiverse claptrap! When Bobby Kennedy says something, it gives “cover,” in a sense, for others to use the same kind of language and frame the debate in the same kind of way. (Language that reminds me of David Kirby’s phrase, “the shuttered hell” of autism, in Evidence of Harm.)

Those who can advocate for themselves should do so. Move right along, please. Those who cannot have advocates like their parents and RFK Jr. who are sick of mincing words.

That’s funny. When someone makes a truly idiotic and, yes, offensive analogy, the reaction of an intelligent and moral person is to be offended at the pure idiocy and the utter historical ignorance demonstrated by such an analogy. Of course, Dan Olmsted is not an intelligent or moral person. Think of it this way. Olmsted approves of RFK, Jr.’s analogy. He thinks it gives him cover to use similar language. He thinks that such analogies help the antivaccine cause (and, make no mistake, Dan Olmsted is antivaccine to the core). In reality, what they do is to reveal people like Dan Olmsted and RFK, Jr. for the historically ignorant, antiscience cranks that they are. I suppose that in a small way that’s a favor to society, rather like a warning about whom not to take seriously, just as Hilary Butler let society know that she is not one to be taken seriously when she tried to liken non-vaccinators to the “new Jews,” as in the Jews during the reign of the Third Reich.

What is it with antivaccinationists and ridiculous Holocaust analogies, anyway?

Particularly hilariously inept is a statement that Olmsted makes in which he whines to his readers that they should “note that Bobby wasn’t calling those who’ve enabled the autism epidemic Hitlers (just as I was not saying that about the media).” Of course, this is a massive straw man. You don’t have to compare someone to Hitler for it to be an offensive, completely over the top analogy. Let’s go back to what Olmsted actually did say. It’s worth repeating again what Olmsted about the journalists who, to him, didn’t engage in sufficient fear mongering about vaccines and autism:

It’s not going to be very PC to say this, but one of the most vivid images from the end of World War II is the Allies making local villagers walk through a newly liberated concentration camp. The message was — how can you say you did not know?

When the history of the Age of Autism is written, I hope that part of mainstream journalism’s pennance is having to listen to parent after parent, hour after hour, describe just what Jami Nelson did. Healthy kids. Shots. And autism.

So it’s true that Olmsted didn’t compare journalists to Hitler, but he did compare them ot Nazis living near concentration camps who claimed they didn’t know what was going on in the camps, thus implying that they were implicit in something that to him is the equivalent to the Holocaust. Then, after denying that he called journalist Hitlers, he goes right on to say that it wouldn’t matter if he had because the “scale of the catastrophe, the immensity of the denial, the suffering of the victims do justify the language.” In other words, after denying he said it, Olmsted says, in essence, “So what if I did? It was justified!”

Olmstead goes beyond that, though, carrying the analogy beyond that and aiming it squarely at one of the favorite enemies of the antivaccine movement. In his hero worship of RFK, Jr., Olmsted buys into RFK, Jr.’s apparent idea that someone must be a war criminal on par with the guards who rand the Nazi death camps. It’s not too hard to guess who it is. Anyone who follows the antivaccine movement knows who it is. To RFK, Jr., if the “vaccine Holocaust” is as huge as the real Holocaust, then Paul Offit is a war criminal. Don’t believe me? Check out this passage:

The enablers may not belong in Nuremburg, but they do belong in jail, Bobby said. “I would do a lot to see Paul Offit and all these good people behind bars,” he said, after listing Offit’s litany of lies and profit. Just to make sure people got the point, he returned to it in his speech. “Is it hyperbole to say they should be in jail? They should be in jail and the key should be thrown away.”

Yes, RFK, Jr. is such a highly warped individual that he believes that a man who has dedicated his lives to saving children and has actually contributed a life-saving vaccine to the world should be in jail, adding only the offhand disclaimer that he “may not belong in Nuremberg.” For those who might not be familiar with the history, the Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial was where the Allies tried many of the Nazi doctors responsible for the atrocities committed in the camps, such as the horrifically unethical medical experimentation. These were doctors who had supervised mass murder, torture, evil abuses of medical experimentation, and forced euthanasia. The only reason, for instance, that Josef Mengele was not in the defendant’s box for the Doctors’ Trial is because he had escaped before the Allies had subdued Nazi Germany. Other doctors who were on trial included, for example, Waldemar Hoven, Chief Doctor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, who was involved in Nazi euthanasia programs and medical experiments involving administration of typhus to prisoners, many of whom were subjected to phenol injections. (Phenol injections were a favorite means of “euthanasia,” a precursor to murder by gas chambers. Then there was Herta Oberheuser, who did gruesome experiments purported to be for the purpose of learning how to regenerate bone and muscle in which she killed healthy children with oil and evipan injections, then removed their limbs and vital organs. She also inflicted wounds on subjects and rubbed dirt, foreign objects, and other items designed to simulate the wounds German soldiers suffered on the battlefield.

These are the sorts of people RFK, Jr. is implicitly comparing Paul Offit to, a comparison that Dan Olmsted totally approves of! Lest you think that Olmsted and RFK, Jr. are an isolated example, right there in the comments is a commenter by the ‘nym Farmer Geddon seriously and without irony says that he thinks that Dr. Offit should be tried for “crimes against humanity.” Meanwhile, another commenter by the ‘nym “no vac” writes:

I totally agree. We must stop using euphemistic language and apologize for offending the vaccine criminals and their enabler politicians. Their place is in prison for life and we should use the strongest condemning language possible! We must organize with global parents many international marches (Monsanto style exactly) to protest against destroying our children and humanity’s future for profits of vaccine- mafia. Enough of suffering and accepting vaccine genocide.

“Vaccine genocide”? Yes, this loon is totally serious. He or she really thinks that what is happening is a genocide. I can’t make up my mind if this is hilarious, sad, outrageous, or so offensive as to be beyond the pale. Maybe it’s a little of each. What I do know is that people who seriously make a comparison like this, between genocide and an imaginary “vaccine-caused autism epidemic” are so divorced from reality that it’s hard to imagine ever bringing them back. We have to try, though, while simultaneously doing what we can to prevent or obviate the harm to public health they cause in the form of resurgences of vaccine-preventable diseases.

If there’s one hilarious thing about RFK, Jr., though, it’s his complete lack of self-awareness coupled with a combination of the arrogance of ignorance and an overwhelmingly inflated view of his own importance. Only someone with these “qualities” could have written something so clueless:

Kennedy has put together a book-length treatment on the dangers of ethylmercury, given every year to 84 million children around the world including the United States (in prenatal and infant flu shots). He wants to get meetings with the CDC, AAP, FDA, etc., and get a commitment by the end of this summer to finally remove thimerosal from vaccines in one year. ONE year. If not, he said, he’ll publish the book.

“If they don’t do this,” he said, “this is what I’m going to do with my life.” Since they’re not going to do it, it looks like we’ve got a friend for life.

That’s right. RFK, Jr. is threatening the federal government that he’ll—gasp!—publish a crank book full of autism fear mongering, quackery, and pseudoscience if the government doesn’t do what he demands. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll sit down and hold his breath until he turns blue. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll sit down, stamp his feet against the ground, and cry like a little baby.

Meanwhile, from his vantage point behind RFK, Jr.’s tonsils, Olmsted tries to “out-antivax” even RFK, Jr., which is very, very hard. However, he somehow manages it:

People who think mercury in vaccines is a dead issue need to think again after Autism One. Dan Burton and others on the Congressional panels stressed it; Eric Gladen’s preview of his movie “Trace Amounts” triggered much buzz; Brian Hooker’s session on FOIAs trying to get the CDC to cough up documents on thimerosal and other vaccine horrors; and our own debut of How Mercury Triggered the Age of Autism show that mercury is the defining clue, the core issue, of the autism epidemic.

It’s got nothing to do with vaccines, actually. It’s got to do with harming babies with no offsetting public health imperative except sloth, arrogance and stupidity and, in some cases, neglect and knowledge that constitute evil.

“Vaccine horrors”? How about horrors of abuses of science by ignoramuses like RFK, Jr. and Dan Olmsted? “Sloth, arrogance, and stupidity”? That could apply very well to them, too.