A genetic difference is often adaptive and can be regarded as an advance in the evolutionary process; it is well-known that autism sometimes brings with it remarkable powers in the areas of music, art and mathematics. In the 2006 movie “X-Men: The Last Stand,” the augmented powers of those known as “mutants” are even more remarkable and include the ability to walk through walls, to move metal objects as large as California’s Golden Gate Bridge, to auto-generate fire or ice, to be in seven places at the same time, to read minds, to assume any identity, to kill with a touch, to fly like Icarus, to change the weather. These abilities are seen by many “normal” human beings, and a few mutants, as disabilities, as an indication that the person who possesses one of them is a freak.
Within the minority community the conviction grows that its stigmatization is the result not of “natural” deficiencies, but of a politically established norm that serves the interests of the powers that be. Exposing that norm as a mere artifact of history with no special claim to authority means first that it is no longer obligatory to honor it, and second, that the community’s norms are worthy of both loyalty and protection. What was once seen as a deviation or something to be eradicated is re-characterized as a culture, and in a short time the culture has a lobby and is demanding respect, representation and even reparations for opportunities denied and rights withheld. The formerly shunned but now legitimized community opens cultural centers, galleries (think of graffiti artists), museums, historical archives, and soon it is being courted by the very mainstream constituencies that for so long accorded it only a negative recognition.