The danger is real. The truth had been there all along; mathematics is not “fake news.”
For the longest time, ever since January 2017, I had been genuinely wondering what the Trump White House and supporters had against science. Why does this administration loathe numbers backed by mathematics, natural laws of physics and principles of climatology, civics, political and military sciences, and other less mathematical though informed opinions and precedence? Why the hate towards heavily researched science, mathematically inclined predictions, or opinions based on years of the scientific method and professional experience? So humans have nothing to do with global warming? Really? Even US and world “history,” a collection of data albeit from those in the political elite and powerful who write it, is being ignored. Remember when the 45th President said Frederick Douglas “is being recognized more and more” last February 2017 as if the African American abolitionist, orator, reformer and statesman was his contemporary when he died in February 1895.
So how did we get here? Might it be asked how did a country so great, a pillar of truth and justice, fall from western civilization in the 21st century in the middle of a global economy? It starts with the need to alienate and repudiate science, the scientific method, and education. After that, a civilization’s fall is because of false hope and ignorance. I, too, contributed to this.
At first, I simply thought such “group thinking” would dissipate as the focus on governing would take hold. I gave 2017 as the period for this administration to get on its sea legs to navigate the turbulent political oceans; as this group was seen as the “disrupters” and outsiders focused on “draining the swamp,” I had to give them time to pull together a cogent plan of unifying a country of diversity and plurality. As difficult as it was, watching the attack on the Affordable Care Act, the demeaning and degrading of the national intelligence community, the cessation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the departure from the Paris Accord, and all the steps towards disassembling prior work and governing were all things that forced me to “focus on breathing and calm my mind.”
Last year, 2018, was another such year. I was less optimistic but hopeful that 2018 would be better. As opposed as I am to extreme conservatism, I had hoped that with the settling of still a new group of hires in the White House, maybe efforts to reunify the country would occur. Justice for all. Open dialogue. Peace in our time.
But 2018 consolidated the push towards the right culminating in summer where the once-fringe Ku Klux Klan became mainstreamed by the 45th President, when dictators and despots (Syria, Russia, North Korea) were serious models of government to consider in the eyes of this White House, and when viewing all other opposers to the group-think as “enemies of the state” that perpetuated “fake news” became national policy. School shootings continued. Journalists were killed. The National Rifle Association was infiltrated by Russian spies to disrupt the US political system and degrade faith in the three branches of government. The descriptions of “caravans” of diseased and dangerous immigrants storming the southern border were launched with a policy of separating children from parents as a means of deterrence. And then the new speak that “trade wars are good” in tariffs against China took hold, tossing the very principles of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations out of capitalism.
This is all to say that the country did not unify in 2018 but fractured into further tribalism that has been seen before in our country’s young history but not for decades. While it has been said that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it (George Santayana, 1863-1952, is thought to have originally said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”), I am more of a Mark Twain believer in that “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” and right now, it’s feeling like the 1920’s again – isolation, nationalism at the expense of global concerns, prejudice to people who are different, anti-immigrant sentiment and fear of losing national identity. And just so you know, it was the Great Crash (stocks, investment, and Wall Street) of October 1929 that heralded the Great Depression, which ran its course until December 7th, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the US broke from isolation to deal with World War II. Yup…peace in our time.
Now, it’s January 2019. There is an attack on the White House’s group-think mentality from two different sources – one is via “the people” symbolized by the House of Representatives, and the other comes from the Justice Department where the iron curtain of Trump’s dynasty and governance will be revealed. These efforts, though imperative, will most likely be seen as tribalism, and opinions will further be entrenched.
But there is another way. A way of thinking that is not fake news. Science. Mathematics. History. Political science and civics. Military science. My resolution this year is to break away from my news feed and familiar news outlets and to look at the science behind global warming, the American history of immigration, the emergence on global economy, isolationism and national socialism, and democracy. I’ll take another look at the 1st and 2nd Amendments and re-read the Constitution and see if there is yet a better model for governing, with all its checks, balances and flaws. Some of this will be ugly: Native American genocide, slavery, Japanese Internment Camps, just to name a few. But there are bright shining lights that emerged from this nation of immigrants with their new way of thinking, from brewing beer to splitting the atom, from the Revolutionary War that launched the great democratic experiment to a land of innovation and technology, global influence, a land of education and learning, and a leader of change.
If you want to make America great again, let’s all look at source material, the science, the informed and experienced opinions, history – US and world, and maybe even use the scientific method to find the truth.