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April 23, 2017


It seems, like the securitization of primary, secondary and tertiary debt by Wall Street with their packaging and repackaging of loans and mortgages and credit derivatives and whatever else that moves, that our environment has been similarly sliced and diced by the fossil fuel moneychangers into neat little cherry-picked packages of plausible deniability. Thus those who deny climate change with their propaganda machines and bought legislators are doing a good job in sewing doubt as to what is happening to our air, land and water. They ignore the dead zone of the Gulf caused by the toxic discharges of the Mississippi River, the increasing presence of gases in our atmosphere, the dying reefs, the square miles of plastic in our oceans, and the increasing warmth of our oceans, and for no better reason than the pursuit of profit.

Just lately these artists of destruction have found a new ally in the Oval Office, so it appears that the attacks on our environment will intensify. We are being ruled by a minority president who lost by several million votes, and we are being ruled by the fossil fuel industry in environmental matters by an even greater disparity; 97 to 98 percent of the scientific community say we are ruining our planetary environment by man-made activities; 2 to 3 percent say the majority view is without foundation and that their numbers are politically inspired and, in a word, hogwash.

So now we have politicized the science measuring our environmental concerns? Apparently. If the numbers do not fit your plan to profit, then make up your own facts, just as our occupant of the Oval Office does in his narcissistic world, buy a few scientists and go to the airwaves complaining about how radical environmentalists are destructive of the free market, socialists etc. What’s next on the politicization menu? Shall we politicize arithmetic? Gravity? Hemoglobin? Where does this end?

Professor Shelia Kennedy in her blog this Earth Day pointed out that politicians who know better continue to kowtow to their campaign-contributing corporate patrons with their denial nonsense and elicited several responses from her community of commentators who agreed. I agree with them but decided to respond in a more historical fashion to give background to this argument which isn’t an honest argument of the value of science but one that pits profit against survival. My observations in historical context as contributed to her blog follows, as slightly edited.

We are told that the art-happy city of Florence was where the Enlightenment began, where humanistic philosophy and naked sculpture finally challenged papal control of peoples’ lives, their thoughts, their government, etc. It appears that we are now engaged in a backlash from that heyday of freedom for the human experience with a return to religious dampers by some, dampers tied, mysteriously, with the rich and greedy and their legislative toadies, all contrary to the Scriptures they pretend to be following in a blatant show of hypocrisy. Perhaps we can rename this age as the Un-Enlightenment and substitute Indianapolis for Florence. My contribution to her blog today, slightly edited, is as follows.

Madison and especially Jefferson were avid students of the Enlightenment and classical Rome and Greece, from which they extracted the democratic idealism of Athenian democracy, a system of government centuries older than Christianity itself and therefore less subject to Christian limitations. Our law professor used to lecture us in our course in Equity that the rule to be followed in determining the winning party in equity was “prior in time, prior in right.” That maxim has no application these days in a world where facts can be manipulated to fit decision-making, where science is denied its place by those who deal with algorithms and antibiotics while using science in its everyday applications yet denying its role in our society when bottom line results of corporation are up for grabs, an exercise in what I have dubbed economic schizophrenia and denial.

Welcome to the new world of Un-Enlightenment this Earth Day, where even arithmetic has been politicized and pragmatism is a four-letter word, where rancid air and Flint drinking water are products of liberal imagination. At bottom these are not issue choices but rather choices between realism and surrealism, and my vote goes to reality and science.     GERALD        E



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