Right Wing Rampage: Michael Savage's Ignorance and Intolerance
It really astonishes me the kind of stupid and mean-spirited crap that right wing fanatics spout on national television. I mean these guys are absolutely nuts, but they get paid for spreading ignorance and intolerance.
This comes from Media Matters:
On July 16, the No. 3 syndicated radio talk show host in the country, Michael Savage, made the following statement on autism:
"Now, you want me to tell you my opinion on autism? ... A fraud, a racket."
Savage went on to say:
Now, the illness du jour is autism. You know what autism is? I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is.
What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, "Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot."
Autism -- everybody has an illness. If I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, "Don't behave like a fool." The worst thing he said -- "Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry." That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have.
During the same broadcast, Savage also attacked those in "the minority community" who suffer from asthma. He stated: "[W]hy was there an asthma epidemic amongst minority children? Because I'll tell you why: The children got extra welfare if they were disabled, and they got extra help in school. It was a money racket. Everyone went in and was told [fake cough], 'When the nurse looks at you, you go [fake cough], "I don't know, the dust got me." ' See, everyone had asthma from the minority community."
Michael Savage's mean-spirited comments are disgusting and are an affront to basic decency.
The Savage Nation reaches at least 8.25 million listeners each week, according to Talkers Magazine, making it one of the most listened-to talk radio shows in the nation, behind only The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show.
Your voice is critical in holding Savage accountable for his comments. I hope you take the time to call and tell those running the station exactly what you think of Michael Savage.
I mean not only is Savage being just plain mean, insulting children with legitimate illnesses, but he also is just plain stupid in what he is saying. He is pulling this out of his ass and ignoring real facts in the process.
Now, let's start with autism. Michael Savage claims that 99% of autism cases are just kids who aren't taught how to behave. Well, this shows he knows nothing about autism. Autism isn't a behavioral disorder so much as a different way the brain functions. Autism can be extremely debilitating, or it can be more minor, allowing a person to be fully functional, even exceptional, just different.
The neuroscientist Oliver Sachs wrote an amazing book about autism called An Anthropologist on Mars. One segment of this book focuses on a woman named Dr. Temple Grandin. She is among the most exceptional people with autism. She is responsible for redesigning modern slaughterhouses, making them both more efficient and more humane. She explains in Sachs' book precisely what it FEELS like to be autistic. Not surprisingly, her description is about as far from Savage's idiotic statements as one can get. In fact, I have to say Savage himself comes off far more the spoiled brat than Dr. Grandin does. Dr. Gradin has gone on to write her own book about her life, called Temple Grandin's Emergence: Labeled Autistic. I have not read it, but now that I know about its existence I am adding it to my reading list.
Michael Savage, wrongly, suggests most autism is just kids being brats. Well, let's look at the diagnostic signs of autism according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:
*impaired ability to make friends with peers
*impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
*absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
*stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
*restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
*preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
*inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
I don't know, but these diagnostic signs of autism sure sound different than Savage's portrayal. You know, just a little research might have prevented him from making a fool of himself this way, but you know, maybe he looks like a fool because he IS a fool. Not to mention a brat.
Now let's turn to asthma. He implies that high asthma rates among minorities is due to welfare fraud. Somehow he thinks that minorities are trying to scam the system by faking asthma. Of course he ignores that it is a socioeconomic issue, not racial. Asthma rates are high among lower income communities. These are the communities that are generally exposed to more environmental pollutants and are underserved by the medical profession.
The Nation has an excellent article from January this year on the Asthma epidemic in America. Here's an excerpt:
Of course, given the deliberate placement of highways, industrial factories, airports, and other emitting infrastructure in American cities, poor youth are bombarded with a disproportionate amount of poisons. Frighteningly enough, as climate change warps the environment, these airborne toxins may strengthen, too. In a 2004 report, the American Public Health Association and researchers from Harvard University concluded that a "powerful one-two punch" of elevated pollen levels and modifications in the types of molds incited by climate change will boost the asthma rates of children in America's cities.
But ecological factors only account for a portion of asthma's underlying causes. Research now suggests that the excess stress of inner-city living can increase psychosocial risk factors by disrupting one's immune system, causing hypersensitive and easily inflamed lungs. Exposure to violence, economic hardship, or familial breakdowns can all contribute.
Dr. Rosalind Wright, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, has studied these symptoms intensely. She calls them social pollutants. "If you start to look at the science behind how emotion disrupts physiology and the body, it's operating through parallel pathways," she says. "So when you start to visualize these ... pollutants that get breathed in the same way that you breath in an allergen, it's going to set off some of those same pathways."
While both social and environmental contaminants can set off asthma independently, together they make the condition even more powerful. "When two different toxicants are getting in the body and operating through parallel systems," says Wright, "they are going to enhance each other."
Good information and solid preventive health care is necessary to understand these complex factors and to control asthma symptoms, but parents of city youths can have a harder time obtaining either. "[Inner-city parents] have enough to do just to have the kids fed and dressed," says Dr. Paul Ehrlich, a leading pediatric asthma specialist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine. "Many don't have jobs where they can take off the morning and take a child to the specialist."
Thus, the reinforcing relationship between decades of environmental racism, amplified stress levels, and lackluster health care coverage explains why levels of asthma are considerably higher in poor, urban America--where a disproportionate number of children of color reside--than in suburbs or on farms. While asthma rates in the broader population have begun to plateau, overall rates for black and Latino children remain steadily 30 to 100 percent higher than for white children. Puerto Ricans are hit the hardest, registering rates 140 percent higher than for non-Hispanic whites.
Funny. Michael Savage seems completely ignorant of these factors. Maybe he is too busy being a whining brat to actually do some research. But you know, you don't even have to read The Nation to understand the links between inner city pollution, inadequate health care and asthma rates. Even the mainstream media has covered the scientific research behind these links. From WNBC back in 2006:
High levels of pollution in the South Bronx may be related to an asthma epidemic experienced by the area's children, according to a new 5-year study released by New York University on Monday.
Researches from NYU's School of Medicine and the Wagner Graduate School analyzed data collected by children wearing special backpacks, which measured the air in their homes, neighborhoods, and their schools...
During the study, the symptoms of asthma doubled among elementary school children on days with a greater-than-average amount of traffic...
George Thurston, from the NYU School of Medicine, said the diesel soot was most associated with the worsening of the children's symptoms.
Twenty percent of children in the Bronx attend school within 500 feet of a major highway, which are typically places where pollution exceeds the acceptable levels, the report said.
Gee, Mr. Savage. See how easy it is to find actual INFORMATION on the subject? Oh, yeah. Savage is too busy being a whining brat to actually learn something. Pity.
So, once more, join Media Matters in protesting Savage's ignorance and intolerance. Find your local Savage Station, log into our calling tool and tell your Savage station manager what you think of Savage's tirade.