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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wakefield for Trump

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns.   In this campaign, a number of posts have discussed Trump's support for the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.  He also has a bad record on disability issues more generally.

If there’s one thing you might not realize, it’s that antivaccinationists (at least many of them) love Donald Trump. Love him. For example, our good buddy and antivaccine conspiracy theorist, Jake Crosby, whom I like to refer to as Young Master Crosby (or, if I’m on Twitter, The Gnat), has been posting Hillary for Prison graphics, urging people to donate to the Trump campaign, and generally worshiping the ground Donald Trump walks on. Elsewhere, a man every bit as deranged as The Gnat, Mike Adams, has been delivering a steady stream of pro-Trump propaganda, along with his other pseudoscience, quackery, and lies, for several months now. More recently, the Grand Poobah of the Antivaccine Movement himself, the man who almost singlehandedly brought measles back to the UK by using a crappy fraudulent case report to frighten parents with the lie that the MMR vaccine causes autism, Andrew Wakefield, has stated that this is a “one issue” election:

To be honest, I have a hard time believing that Andrew Wakefield is so stupid that he’d be repeating the utterly risible claim that by 2032 one out of two children will have autism and that the pharmaceutical industry and government somehow want this? Does Wakefield have any self-awareness? Does he have a clue just how stupid that sounds? He probably does, but it’s all about the con, and the antivaccine activists he’s addressing actually believe such flagrant nonsense. In any case, Wakefield strongly endorsed Donald Trump because Trump believes that vaccines cause autism. In fact, he claims to have met with Donald Trump and that Trump told him he’s on Wakefield’s (and, by extension, the antivaccinationists’) side. He then lays down an even bigger whopper, claiming that, if Hillary Clinton is elected President, within two years there will be mandatory vaccination nationwide. Clearly, either Wakefield doesn’t know how our federalist system operates and that it is the states, not the federal government, that determine school vaccination requirements, or he doesn’t care. I suspect the latter. Again, Wakefield is not stupid. He is a liar. But who knows? To be able to make such ridiculously over-the-top claims, he must be, in my opinion, either stupid or lying. Take your pick.
Either way, that Andrew Wakefield supports Donald Trump (even though, as a British citizen, he can’t vote in our election) is not surprising. Donald Trump has been spouting antivaccine tropes, pseudoscience, and nonsense for a long time now. What was far more disturbing to me is that in the video Wakefield claimed to have met with Trump a couple of days before to discuss vaccines and autism. That’s right. If Wakefield is to be believed, the foremost antivaccine conspiracy theorist in the world, who made what is currently the most paranoid conspiracy theory “documentary” right now, met with a major party candidate for President, who told him he shares his views. That frightens me, and it should frighten you, too.