Far-right MAGA anti-vaxxers are invading autism groups: report

Far-right MAGA anti-vaxxers are invading autism groups: report
Infowars' Alex Jones in 2018 (Creative Commons).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, far-right MAGA conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers angrily railed against vaccines — falsely claiming, with zero evidence, that they were dangerous. President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci, his top White House medical adviser, pushed back against their claims and assured Americans that the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and others were perfectly safe.

Even former President Donald Trump himself encouraged vaccination, maintaining his opposition to vaccine mandates. Some conspiracy theorists, including Infowars' Alex Jones, saw Trump's pro-vaccine stand as a betrayal.

Anti-vaxxers and medical conspiracy theorists are still plentiful in MAGA World. And according to Mother Jones' Kiera Butler, they are making their presence felt among autism groups and falsely claiming that vaccines are a cause of autism.

READ MORE: How a urine-drinking QAnon anti-vaxxer missed his chance to 'confront Trump': report

"For a quarter of a century," Butler explains in an article published by Mother Jones on April 13, "proponents of unproven autism treatments have overlapped with anti-vaccine activists. The vaccine skepticism movement took off after British physician Andrew Wakefield published a study in 1998 suggesting that routine childhood vaccinations caused autism. That study was later found to be fraudulent, the paper retracted, and Wakefield barred from practicing medicine in the United Kingdom."

Butler continues, "Nonetheless, the myth of vaccines causing autism persisted and has been amplified by organizations like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s Children's Health Defense and celebrities including Jenny McCarthy, and Oprah Winfrey. Even the largest and most powerful autism advocacy organization, Autism Speaks, which was founded in 2005 and today runs a $50 million budget, did not officially distance itself from vaccine skepticism until 2015. Over the last few decades, many groups and individuals who spread falsehoods about vaccines as the cause of autism began to promote unproven and sometimes dangerous treatments for it — special diets, supplements, cleanses, and pricey medical spa experiences."

RFK, Jr.'s Children's Health Defense (CHD) should not be confused with the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), which is in no way affiliated with RFK, Jr.'s organization. Children's Health Defense and the Children's Defense Fund are totally separate groups with different views.

Butler notes, "This world of dubious autism treatments used to be mostly limited to private social media groups and conferences. Indeed, beginning about a decade ago, the very notion of autism as a disorder began to lose currency among many autistic people and scientists who study autism: They started to view the condition not as an affliction, but rather as an innate brain difference. Autistic people experience the world differently, and that difference, they say, is something to be honored rather than treated."

READ MORE: How 'right-wing anti-vaxxer' conspiracy theorists have targeted East Palestine residents: report

Read Mother Jones’ full report at this link.

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