Asperger’s syndrome

A common critique of open borders advocates is that they are non-neurotypical. Specifically, it is claimed that open borders advocates suffer from Asperger’s syndrome and/or are quite high on the autism spectrum.

For instance, in a comment on an Open Borders blog post, commenter Holier then thou writes:

You don’t use it because your an aspie eco professor who makes a living producing propaganda to that effect. Meanwhile, I actually have worked in value transference industries most of my life and know exactly how they work. Of course I had to do some soul searching and realize what I was doing was evil and it was wrong to benefit by such actions. It was then I confronted my self serving aspie rationalizations for what they were. I understand how hard it was for me, I can only imagine how much worse it is for academics (which is like overdrive for this kind of cognitive deficiency).

[…]

I know this all sounds a little angry, but understand I consider the policies you’re advocating evil. I chalk it up to a mix of aspie cognitive deficiency and the circumstance of motivations, but its still very dangerous to me and my countrymen whether its conscious deliberate evil or not. I’ve watched people like you do immense damage to the country over the years and yet learn nothing. I would like to see you do something useful with your life and not make the mistakes I made, but if I can’t I at least want to stop you from hurting anyone else.

Other references to the alleged connection between open borders and autism or Asperger’s syndrome:

  • Libertarianism is Applied Autism, where he claims that libertarians’ inability to come to grips with citizenism is a reflection of their autistic nature.
  • Open Borders Logo Contest by Chateau Heartiste says “I think the funniest thing about the pranksters is how oblivious Team Autist appeared to be to their pet project getting tooled so blatantly. One of the Team Autist members, Rojas, “Liked” Krune’s obvious trolls multiple times.”
  • The Wickedest Links by Chateau Heartiste links to Suicidal Libertarianism Part Doh and says “In multiracial, open borders societies, libertarianism is nothing short of a death cult. Any time sperglord Bryan Caplan is owned, is a time to [celebrate].”

Responses

Ryan P. Long (an occasional blogger for Open Borders) wrote a post titled Immigration Crazies on his own blog mentioning this class of accusation. He concluded:

Now, these claims are being repeated over and over again every time the issue of immigration hits the world of economics blogs. I may be inclined to think twice about open borders if those who were arguing against it weren’t also the same people claiming that immigrants are a genetically inferior group of people. But the coup de grace is when they state that their debate opponents suffer from cognitive problems.

Evan wrote a blog post titled Autism Can’t Explain Away Open Borders Arguments on Open Borders: The Case addressing this spectrum of arguments. He concluded as follows:

In light of this, it does not seem like the “Asperger’s argument” is a particularly valid criticism of open borders advocates. Open borders advocates understand and engage with the criticisms that restrictionists claim “autism” makes them overlook. Furthermore, it is not clear that the cognitive functions that Asperger’s and other forms of autism impair are necessary to understand the issues surrounding immigration policy. Finally, the project of associating political positions with mental disorders is probably not a wise undertaking in the first place.

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