From the New York Times:
The Nazi History Behind ‘Asperger’
By Edith Sheffer
March 31, 2018
PALO ALTO, Calif. — My son’s school, David Starr Jordan Middle School, is being renamed.
Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto is being renamed along with Lewis and Fred Terman Middle School. Terman school was going to be renamed after interned Palo Alto high school grad Fred Yamamoto who volunteered for the US Army’s Fighting 442nd regiment and was killed in combat in Europe. But then local Chinese threw a racist hissy fit against honoring a Japanese guy. So Terman school wound up being renamed after a Jewish city councilwoman who advocated bike lanes. For renaming Jordan Middle School, they found a black guy, Frank Greene Jr., who really had been a chip designer back at Fairchild Semiconductor in the 1960s.
A seventh grader exposed the honoree, Stanford University’s first president, as a prominent eugenicist of the early 20th century who championed sterilization of the “unfit.”
Jordan was famous in his day for his antiwar eugenics theory. He argued in 1902 that a big war would kill off the morally best, most self-sacrificial young men (the lieutenants who would lead the charges across No Man’s Land), while sparing the cunning who got themselves out of the draft with flat feet or assigned to a cushy job behind the lines.
That may well have happened in 1914-18.
Jordan’s once famous hypothesis seems to me to be a theme behind “lost generation” novels like Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, Hemingway’s The Son Also Rises, and, perhaps, Waugh’s Vile Bodies.
But who has the slightest sympathy these days for activists against World War One? World War One is okay today because it was just white people killing white people. Jordan’s years of working for peace is sinister because he thought it wouldn’t be good for the white race for whites to slaughter each other in vast numbers. The pacifist Jordan was literally Hitler. (Heck, someday Hitler may be considered a more morally nuanced figure than Jordan because at least Hitler had the good taste to kill millions of white people, while Jordan was opposed to whites being killed.) *
Then this oped goes on to explain how the term Asperger’s Syndrome must be stricken from our vocabularies Because Nazis. I forget what it is supposed to be replaced by, although no doubt most people who only recently learned the meaning of Asperger’s will go to their graves without ever learning whatever will be the de-Nazified replacement term.
Personally, I think, having more terms to explain reality is usually better than having fewer terms. Especially as the word “autism” comes to increasingly be used (for understandable, forgivable reasons) as a euphemism for the former euphemism “retarded,” the term “Asperger’s syndrome” is particularly useful in explaining a cluster of traits that weren’t well-recognized before the later 20th Century, and that, perhaps, are increasing in prevalence or at least in influence.
* In this century, a number of conspiracy theories have emerged that President Jordan organized either the alleged murder by poisoning of Mrs. Stanford or at least the coverup of the murder of Mrs. Stanford. Note: not all conspiracy theories are wrong. Note also that I haven’t looked into this, so I don’t have an opinion on the question.