Ron Rosenbaum

How Many Children Will Develop Autism Because of Tea Party Hatred of Federal Regulation?

I hope all you Tea Partiers out there read this Nicholas Kristof column in the Times.

Read the whole thing. But there are two key quotes, one about a new study by a professor of pediatrics at one of America’s leading hospitals which strongly suggests exposure to toxic chemicals in the first trimester can cause autism inducing brain injury in a fetus. This is not, by the way the old vaccine controversy. As I said take the time to read the study’s provenance.

The second quote is this:

“Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey is drafting much-needed legislation that would strengthen the Toxic Substances Control Act. It is moving ahead despite his own recent cancer diagnosis, and it can be considered as an element of health reform. Senator Lautenberg says that under existing law, of 80,000 chemicals registered in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency has required safety testing of only 200. ‘Our children have become test subjects,’ he noted”

80,000 chemicals. 200 tested. The rest “tested” on children and fetuses. Okay Tea Partiers tell me how much you oppose Federal regulation. Would you rather we not even test the 200 chemicals? Federal Regulation is evil in your world view. You’ve succeeded in demonizing everything the Federal government does (except torture) that lawmakers are scared to do anything that might increase vigilance over children’s health if it can be damned as “Federal regulation” Even if it might mean protecting your future child or that of a family member or friend’s child from autism.

But what the hell, those Tea Parties were fun! You guys are really really powerful You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Your hostile ignorance (see Ron Radosh’s recent PJM blog post about the “communist” White House books “scandal” ,oughtif you want to see your ignorance on display) and your control over the cowardly Republican Party (except maybe Scott Brown, who seems like an independent human being) is almost guaranteed to block testing for potential autism-trigger chemicals. Congratulations for saving the Republic. Think how you’ll feel when someone you know suffers the consequences of your callousness.

But I hope that when you meet a family dealing with autism you will tell them proudly of your role in blocking any further “Federal Regulation”. Don’t hide it. Tell them: “I did my part to make sure potential autism-trigger chemicals wouldn’t be tested for. It’s Federal regulation after all! Aren’t you glad.”

In case any of you are interested in the consequences this attitude, I received just yesterday a note from my friend Lauren Thierry whose beautiful son suffers from autism and who has become an activist and made a powerful short film about what it’s like to be the parent of an autism spectrum child.

She recommended a new book and I’ll just quote what she said:

Gravity Pulls You In: Perspectives on Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum is now available at amazon.com. My favorite is the essay “Is There Anything Else We Should Know?” on page 181. But that’s not really why I am recommending it. In all of the wonderful 33 essays and poems, mothers and fathers raising children on the autism spectrum explore their lives in the context of autism’s own special gravity. I made a documentary film about a similar subject, called “Autism Every Day.” But even then I knew I could never tell the whole story in less than an hour. And, as a writer long before I was a filmmaker, I knew that honest words in the slapping up against the silence in one’s own head could be more powerful than the “distractions” of a film on the same subject, where one must watch the chaos and then try to comprehend — through sound-bites, not soliloquies — what these parents are trying to say.”

Since you constantly proclaim your family values, Tea Partiers, since you’re SO concerned about future generations, the debt etc., let’s see if you can muster some concern for future generations and the threat of autism. Put aside your indiscriminate and ignorant horror at Federal regulation and contact Sen. Lautenberg’s office to see how best you can support his bill. Think of other people, rather than your own self interest, your freedom from the tyrannical toxic chemical testing Federal government for a change.