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The Hoax of Science

There is no more sacred role for the government than to protect us from enemies, whether domestic or foreign, whether they carry guns or harbor a deadly virus or whether they terrorize and separate us with words of hate and fear.

Donald Trump, through his ignorance and bigotry, with the active and willing cooperation of Republican members of congress, have violated each of these sacred duties.

The worst crime of the Trump years may prove to be the effects of the constant, unrelenting drumbeat to deny and undermine science to the point where trust in scientists to find answers to our most deadly enemies have fallen to dangerous levels. We don’t expect our leaders to be scientists but we do expect them to go to the scientists for answers. If we rely on the wisdom of politicians to solve our complex problems, we are in very deep trouble and we are.

During the Republican primary, other candidates belittled, mocked and otherwise ridiculed Trump. Until he won.

The government has failed to protect us from the pandemic and there are so many to blame, starting with but definitely not ending with Trump. Even more guilty than those who may have been stupefied into believing and voted for Trump are all of those Republican supplicants in congress who first attacked him for being immoral and totally unfit to be president and then became Trump’s biggest supporters after he won the election.

The Faustian deal with the devil was that the Republicans would support Trump because he would name ultra-conservative members to the Supreme Court who would reverse liberal issues, from same sex marriage and abortion to Obamacare. How dare those politicians make a deal that would cost the lives of thousands of Americans and threaten to decimate our system. How dare them.

There is something terribly wrong with the system when it cannot protect us from would-be dictators and incompetent leaders. The system was developed to be self-regulating through a general appreciation of the so-called American system of values and a rejection of candidates who defy those values.

The Republicans who backed Trump have failed to self-regulate and were, in fact, complicit. Those who allowed Trump to win the nomination and subsequently the presidency cannot claim they didn’t know what he was about and that so much of his being was against the most vital American beliefs.

Trump has never hidden his dark side, whether it was calling for Muslims to be deported after claiming that hundreds of Muslims cheered from a rooftop in Jersey City after the Twin Towers were attacked.

Whether it was claiming that climate change is a hoax; calling for the death penalty for four black youths before they were charged, let alone convicted; claiming to have evidence, that was never produced, that President Obama was not a U.S. citizen; and most criminally, that the “Chinese Flu” was not serious and would magically go away. No reputable scientist believed Trump and why should they, he has absolutely no education in immunology or pandemics but he does know theater.

Trump didn’t invent lying about science and other things to the American public, it’s as American as apple pie, but he has raised the dark art to a level never seen before. And the Republicans in congress aren’t the first, and not even the most successful at abrogating and then willingly violating their oaths to work for the best interests of the country.

Among his sins have been Trump’s claims of a miracle drug for COVID-19, his attacks on his own scientific experts, his refusal to wear a protective mask and most damning, his failure early in the pandemic, to alert the American public to the potential devastating impact of the virus.

It’s nothing new. A few examples of the anti-science bent under Trump include:

Trump’s administration was the first since 1941 not to name a science advisor to the President. It wasn’t until July 2018, that Trump nominated meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier for the position. While preparing for talks with Kim Jong-un, the White House did not seek the assistance of a White House science adviser or senior counselor trained in nuclear physics.

Under the Trump administration, the Department of Energy prohibited the use of the term “climate change” and the Interior Department repeatedly inserted climate change-denying language into the agency’s scientific reports.

The administration reportedly sent a list to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with words that the agency was prohibited from using in its official communications, including “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” “science-based,”, “vulnerable,” “entitlement” and “diversity.”

Many may forget, but George W. Bush was more effective than Trump has been in weaponizing and bastardizing science for political gain.

By 2004, Bush had installed more than 100 former lobbyists, lawyers or spokespersons to lead agencies to oversee industries they previously supported.

The Union of Concerned Scientists reported that the Bush administration had suppressed or distorted the scientific analyses of federal agencies to bring the results in line with administration policy. The same group also found pervasive political influence of science at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that many scientists were pressured to approve or reject new drugs despite their scientific findings.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that especially after Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration tried to control which climate scientists could speak with reporters, and edited scientists’ congressional testimony on climate science and key legal opinions.

Another report concluded that the Bush administration had politicized science and sex education by modifying performance measures for abstinence-based programs to make them look more effective.

Bush was taking a cue from past administrations.

Remember how members of congress accepted money from the cigarette lobbyists who opposed laws to discourage smoking as they trivialized evidence of the links between smoking and cancer as being uncertain and inconclusive. The lobbyists argued and many members of congress agreed that the facts didn’t warrant tough controls on cigarette sales. It’s known as the “Scientific Certainty Argumentation Method” (SCAM) defense.

There also was a corporate coalition of energy companies that was formed in 1991, that had widespread support in Congress, to convince the public that global warming was a “theory” and not a fact.

Attacks against the scientific theory of evolution have been waged by the conservative right in the name of “intelligent design,” claiming that humans were created by God and that students should be taught about intelligent design in the same way they are taught about evolution.

One of the most notorious examples of government twisting science was the eugenics program under Hitler to maintain a “pure” German race.

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