Dec 25th 2015

Death of an Orca: What It Means for the GOP

by Jeff Schweitzer

Jeff Schweitzer is a scientist and former White House Senior Policy Analyst; Ph.D. in marine biology/neurophysiology

Donald Trump may be to the Republican Party what Blackfish was to SeaWorld.

The documentary Blackfish on the mistreatment of Orcas had a disastrous effect on the marine amusement park, revealing a long-standing and widely-accepted SeaWorld lie that the whales were being treated well. Following the release of Blackfish, attendance at the park fell by about 50%, with bleeding losses of revenue and about a 60% decline in stock value. Blackfish was like a light suddenly flipped on in the kitchen, revealing the roaches everybody knew were there but chose to ignore until the obvious was simply too overwhelming.

With Donald Trump's campaign we can no longer ignore the intolerance and hate that has so thoroughly infected the Republican Party pantry. With Trump front and center in the Republican primary season, the spotlight is now shining brightly on the ugly truth that was, pre-Trump, so conveniently swept under the counter. Trump's brazen and popular foray into the realm of vile rhetoric has revealed a long-standing but well-hidden truth about the GOP and conservativism in the United States: right-wing thought has devolved into a disease of ignorance and hate.

A New Low

While Republican presidential hopefuls descend down to historic and frightening lows of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, the rest of us must pause to take stock of why we have reached this horrible nadir in public discourse.

We have all heard the sentiment that, "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." Mahatma Gandhi is often and widely cited as the author of this phrase, but he apparently never uttered the words. Nevertheless, no matter who first noted this truth, the idea is sound and a viable guide to our humanness. Others have gone further, again with hazy attribution to Gandhi, with the notion that, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated. I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man."

Many of us would agree with these aphorisms. But the Republican field is hastily veering ever far away from this ideal, taking the opposite position that attacking those most in need is a moral imperative. This inversion of reason can be seen with the extraordinary extremism espoused by those representing the GOP. Trump is a deep well of such ugly sentiment, which has disturbingly resonated with a large swath of our population. His popularity is what is most frightening of all. That a demagogue will come along is no surprise, but that his despicable views will find resonance with so many of our voters is as shocking as it is disappointing. Trump is the lump in our collective breast, an ominous warning of a more virulent disease about to attack our body politic. Trumps ascendancy proves we are sick, that the cancer on our society is metastasizing.

Mainstream Extremism

Trump is no outlier or anomaly, but instead broadly representative of the growing radicalization of conservative thought - one reason other candidates vying for the Oval Office have not dared to criticize Trump. There is much to choose from, but let's look at just a few of the more drastic notions that have become mainstream, ideas that would have resulted in instant political death just a decade ago.

Trump proposes that the U.S. Government should shut down mosques, you know, like Nazi Germany closed synagogues. Should we have our own version of Kristallnacht now? Worse, if there can be a worse, pining for the good old days of internment camps for the Japanese during World War II, Trump suggests that the government create a database to track Muslims -like the Nazis tracked Jews. Perhaps we should require that all Muslims wear yellow crescent moons to make them easier to identify. If it was good enough for the Nazis, it is good enough for us, no?

Trump describes immigrants as rapists and criminals. "But you have people coming in and I'm not just saying Mexicans, I'm talking about people that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they're coming into this country." Never mind the pesky fact that there is no evidence that immigrants commit more crimes than people born in the country. Here is the conclusion from a Congressional Research Service report from 2012: "The overall proportion of noncitizens in federal and state prisons and local jails corresponds closely to the proportion of noncitizens in the total U.S. population."

With this dark but factually incorrect perspective on the influx of criminals, Trump not surprisingly has a solution when he says all undocumented workers "have to go." This means that a candidate for the presidency of our country is proposing, seriously, that we locate, round up, arrest and then forcibly deport a population of 11 million people. To find we find these undesirables in our midst, would we create a secret police like the Stasi in East Germany, so neighbors would rat on neighbors? Who would take care of the children left behind? Does this not give you the creeps?

According to Trump, poor people are poor because they do not work hard enough. His solution is to "leave the minimum wage the way it is." If only the poor would find jobs all would be grand.

The list of bizarre policy proposals goes on and on, but Trump's assault on reason and civility does not end there. He openly mocked a New York Times reporter by imitating his spastic movements. He dismissed John McCain's service to his country proclaiming that "I don't like losers." Trump went on to say that, "He is a war hero (only) because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured." Trump believes the normal act of going to the bathroom is too gross to be mentionable. He has denigrated Hillary Clinton for taking a bathroom break during a debate saying that "I know where she went. It's disgusting." There has likely never been a more misogynist candidate; he constantly degrades women. He said that Arianna Huffington, "...is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man - he made a good decision." If he does not like a question from a female reporter he will dismiss her as menstruating. Trump has called women "pigs", "dogs", and "disgusting animals."

To put all of this in perspective, let us pause here, contemplate, and do a brief exercise. Go back and substitute "Obama" everywhere we have "Trump." Now re-read this and consider even for a brief moment the holy hell that would ensue if Obama did anything remotely close to anything Trump has done. Really, do that, and then weep for your country, for its double standard, for its descent into a new era of madness.

We are plumbing new depths of depravity here; previously any one of these proclamations would have knocked a candidate out of the race within a few hours of being verbalized. Now, the crazier the talk the more traction the candidate gains. The cancer is spreading.

Two Worlds

On the bright side, Trump's blazing ignorance is shining a light on right-wing thought so that, finally, the ugly truth, so long suppressed, is revealing itself in ways that can no longer be ignored. We have before us now a world clearly divided between two opposing world views.

We are witnessing the clash of reason and faith, between science and religion, between truth and the big lie, between demagoguery and sane debate. Nowhere is that made clearer than in the rush toward willful ignorance seen in the Republican debates. Disdain for science and the scientific method is front and center in the field of candidates on stage with Trump. With the big lie and faith-based reasoning politicians are not constrained by the annoying shackles of reality. Denying the truth of climate change is now mandatory for any Republican; the GOP is one of the world's few remaining political organizations that reject the obvious certainty of human-caused climate change. False statements about Planned Parenthood are taken at face value by party sympathizers even when easily shown to be fantasy. Fighting evolution is part of the GOP fabric, a modern day version of the Church's attacks on Galileo. Never mind that we can demonstrate evolution in a Petri dish; it has been proven across multiple fields of science including genetics, biogeography, and paleontology. Even the Pope in 1996 grudgingly admitted that evolution is "more than just a theory." But the GOP hangs on to the fifteenth century.

Trump's campaign highlights like few others could that we are in a race for the bottom, in which the candidate who best embraces ignorance and hate wins. When beliefs are divorced from reality, a hallmark of the Trump's outrageous claims, anything goes. With no common understanding of even baseline truths, we lose the ability to have any meaningful discourse to solve our very real problems. We can magically deport 11 million people. We can identify Muslims and track their movements. We can close mosques. All without consequence. Sure, why not, because reality and objective truths are no constraint.

The slogan and its many variations of "make American great again" often show up in conservative circles. To what age are we harking back to exactly? Make no mistake; this is war, a fight for the soul of our nation. Making America great means, to the extreme right, dragging us back into another Dark Ages just as the rest of the world is embracing the knowledge and new technologies of the 21st century. Trump and his ilk are a pathological infection of, consuming us from within. Trump is no joke, his candidacy is not funny. His colleagues on stage are just as frightening. This is deadly serious. Our only hope is that like with Blackfish, the shocking truth about the GOP as revealed by Trump's candidacy, will bring the American electorate to its senses. To survive we must reject the lies from the right so long hidden in the national basement like a crazy uncle nobody wants to acknowledge. Trump brings the crazy to light; now we can see what our real choices are for the future.




Dr. Jeff Schweitzer
 is a marine biologist, consultant and internationally recognized authority in ethics, conservation and development. He is the author of five books including Calorie Wars: Fat, Fact and Fiction (July 2011), and A New Moral Code (2010). Dr. Schweitzer has spoken at numerous international conferences in Asia, Russia, Europe and the United States.Dr. Schweitzer's work is based on his desire to introduce a stronger set of ethics into American efforts to improve the human condition worldwide. He has been instrumental in designing programs that demonstrate how third world development and protecting our resources are compatible goals. His vision is to inspire a framework that ensures that humans can grow and prosper indefinitely in a healthy environment.Formerly, Dr. Schweitzer served as an Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy under former President Clinton. Prior to that, Dr. Schweitzer served as the Chief Environmental Officer at the State Department's Agency for International Development. In that role, he founded the multi-agency International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program, a U.S. Government that promoted conservation through rational economic use of natural resources.Dr. Schweitzer began his scientific career in the field of marine biology. He earned his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. He expanded his research at the Center for Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine. While at U.C. Irvine he was awarded the Science, Engineering and Diplomacy Fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.Dr. Schweitzer is a pilot and he founded and edited the Malibu Mirage, an aviation magazine dedicated to pilots flying these single-engine airplanes. He and his wife Sally are avid SCUBA divers and they travel widely to see new wildlife, never far from their roots as marine scientists..To learn more about Dr Schweitzer, visit his website at http://www.JeffSchweitzer.com
.

To follow Jeff Schweizer on Twitter, please click here.

For Jeff Schweitzer web site, please click here.

Below link to Amazon for Jeff Schweitzer's latest book.


TO FOLLOW WHAT'S NEW ON FACTS & ARTS, PLEASE CLICK HERE!



 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Essays

Nov 19th 2021
EXTRACTS: "At a time when the struggle between authoritarianism and democracy is so intense, if not fateful for the future of democracies, NATO and the EU must warn these countries [Editor's note: Poland and Hungary, EU and NATO, Turkey NATO] that they are on the precipice of being kicked out if they do not change their governing practice. They must be required to restore the principles of democracy by upholding universal human rights and abiding the rule of law, or else they will forfeit their membership and suffer from the consequences of their crimes." ------ "A narcissistic leader, such as Trump, whose hunger for power seems to know no limit, has happily sacrificed the good of the country on the altar of his twisted ego. America’s democracy cannot be repaired unless he and those who helped him are held accountable and face the weight of the law."
Nov 18th 2021
EXTRACT: "Many people who go through intense trauma, for example, become deeper and stronger than they were before. They may even undergo a sudden and radical transformation that makes life more meaningful and fulfilling. Indeed, research shows that between half and one-third of all people experience significant personal development after traumatic events, such as bereavement, serious illness, accidents or divorce. Over time, they may feel a new sense of inner strength and confidence and gratitude for life and other people. They may develop more intimate and authentic relationships and have a wider perspective, with a clear sense of what is important in life and what isn’t. In psychology, this is referred to as “post-traumatic growth”. "
Nov 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Notably, Murdoch thinks that really knowing or understanding another person is a difficult task: “It is a task to come to see the world as it is”. According to the Freudian psychology Murdoch subscribes to in The Sovereignty of Good, humans are prone to “fantasy” – refusing to face the truth because it can damage our fragile egos."
Nov 9th 2021
EXTRACT: "People do not believe false information because they are ignorant. There are many factors at work, but most researchers would agree that the belief in misinformation has little to do with the amount of knowledge a person possesses. Misinformation is a prime example of motivated reasoning. People tend to arrive at the conclusions they want to reach as long as they can construct seemingly reasonable justifications for these outcomes."
Oct 28th 2021
EXTRACTS: "Brood with me on the latest delay of the full release of the records pertaining to the murder of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. That was 58 years ago." -----"Mark my words: ...... No one who remembers 1963 will live to see the US government admit the full truth about Kennedy’s murder. And the American people’s faith in democracy will continue to fade. There is only one way to prevent this, and that is to release every record, withholding nothing – and to do it now."
Oct 27th 2021
EXTRACT: "..... we may defy the warnings of modern medicine, convinced of our own superiority. Researchers at the University of Chicago Divinity School reported half of their participants, all of whom indicated some religious affiliation, agreed with the statement “God will protect me from being infected”. To cope with our dread of death, we delude ourselves into thinking we are invincible: death might happen to other people, but not to me."
Oct 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "Wes Anderson’s new film The French Dispatch is about the final issue of a magazine that specialises in long-form articles about the goings-on in the fictional town of Ennui-sur-Blasé. The film is an anthology of shorts representing three of the articles. A piece by the magazine’s art critic (Tilda Swinton) explores the life and late success of the abstract artist Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio Del Toro). Talented from a young age, Rosenthaler pursued art with a dogged determination that drove him to slowly lose his mind." ---- "Like everything else, mental illness is understood within the context of its time. In their study of melancholy and genius Born Under Saturn, the art historians Margot and Rudolf Wittkower show how Renaissance artists embraced mental alienation. This was shown by a withdrawn, slothful gloom. Such heavy sadness was considered both the symptom and the price of divine inspiration." ---- "Today, the association of creativity and mental illness often implies regression from an adult and orderly state of mind to one that is primal, impulsive, or infantile. The artist in Anderson’s film is such an example: he is noisy, impetuous, and extravagantly mad. And it is while he is at his “maddest” that he paints his best work." ---- "Here I explore the work of four painters whose work has been shaped by various mental illnesses, highlighting how the idea of the “mad artist” need not be tied up with a loss of control but rather a bid to gain it."
Oct 21st 2021
EXTRACT: "So much of Succession holds a mirror to real life, and the way that Logan Roy’s hand-picked board members allowed these abuses to continue by turning a blind eye to them is a good example. We have just published research that shows that public companies whose directors are chosen by their CEOs are statistically more likely to be involved in corporate misconduct, along with various other shortcomings. So why does this happen, and what should be done about it? "
Oct 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "Born in Zanzibar in 1948, Gurnah came to Britain in the 1960s as a refugee. Being of Arab origin, he was forced to flee his birthplace during the revolution of 1964 and only returned in 1984 in time to visit his dying father. Until his retirement, he was a full-time professor of English and postcolonial literatures at the University of Kent in Canterbury."
Oct 7th 2021
EXTRACT: "As the 25th James Bond film No Time to Die hits the cinemas, we are once again reminded of the way that disability is depicted negatively in Hollywood films. The new James Bond film features three villains, all of who have facial disfigurements (Blofeld, Safin and Primo). If you take a closer look at James Bond villains throughout history, the majority have facial disfigurements or physical impairments. This is in sharp contrast to the other characters, including James Bond, who are able-bodied and presented with no physical bodily differences. Indeed, many films still rely on outdated disability tropes, including Star Wars and various Disney classics. Rather than simply being part of a character’s identity, the physical difference is exploited and exaggerated to become a plot point and visual metaphor for villains" ----- "The British Film Institute (BFI) was the first organisation to sign up and has committed to stop funding films that feature negative representations depicted through scars or facial differences – a step in the right direction."
Oct 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "The trillions of microbes inside of our gut play many very important roles in our body. Not only does this “microbiome” regulate our metabolism and help us absorb nutrients from food into the body, it can also influence whether we are lean or obese."
Sep 16th 2021
EXTRACTS: "Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber. In the chamber, the air pressure is increased two to three times higher than normal air pressure. It is commonly used to treat decompression sickness (a condition scuba divers can suffer from), carbon monoxide poisoning,......" ---- "Blood flow to the brain is reduced in people with Alzheimer’s. This study showed increased blood flow to the brain in the mice receiving oxygen therapy, which helps with the clearance of plaques from the brain, and reduces inflammation – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s." ----- "The researchers then used these findings to assess the effectiveness of oxygen therapy in six people over the age of 65 with cognitive decline. They found that 60 sessions of oxygen therapy, over 90 days, increased blood flow in certain areas of the brain and significantly improved the patients’ cognitive abilities – improved memory, attention and information processing speed."
Sep 14th 2021
EXTRACT: "Hollywood for years called on Charles Boyer to typify one French look –  bedroom eyes, sly maneuverings, the dismissive look. A face of another type, the massive mug and narrow eyes of Charles de Gaulle, provides the same disdain of the foreigner but also a superiority based on his belief in his own destiny."
Sep 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "The burden of loneliness for older people is intimately connected to what they are alone with. As we reach the end of our lives, we frequently carry heavy burdens that have accumulated along the way, such as feelings of regret, betrayal and rejection. And the wounds from past relationships can haunt people all their lives."
Sep 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Gardens help restore the ability to concentrate on demanding tasks, providing the perfect space for a break when working from home in a pandemic. Natural things – such as trees, plants and water – are particularly easy on the eye and demand little mental effort to look at. Simply sitting in a garden is therefore relaxing and beneficial to mental wellbeing."
Aug 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "Whether or not a person achieves remission, reducing blood sugar levels is important in managing the negative effects of type 2 diabetes and reducing risk of complications. But when it comes to choosing a diet, the most important thing is to pick one that suits you – one that you’re likely to stick to long term."
Aug 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "In our latest study, we show that by taking the microbiome from young mice and transplanting them into old mice, many of the effects of ageing on learning and memory and immune impairments can be reversed. Using a maze, we showed that this faecal microbiota transplant from young to old mice led to the old mice finding a hidden platform faster."
Aug 3rd 2021
EXTRACT: "Fukuyama argued that political struggle causes history. This struggle tries to solve the problem of thymos – an ancient Greek term referring to our desire to have our worth recognised. This desire can involve wanting to be recognised as equal to others. But it can also involve wanting to be recognised as superior to others. A stable political system needs to accommodate both desires." .... "Counter-dominant spite can weaken liberal democracies. During the 2016 Brexit referendum, some people in the UK voted Leave to spite elites, knowing this could damage the country’s economy. Similarly, during the 2016 US presidential election some voters supported Donald Trump to spite Hillary Clinton, knowing his election could harm the US. "
Jul 31st 2021
EXTRACT: "If we want to live in a world that is good for pollinators, as well as the rest of us, big changes are needed in our environment, and our food system. This is why many beekeepers change their diet and their shopping, eating more locally grown vegetables that aren’t treated with pesticides. ...... Being willing to buy fruit and vegetables that may have the occasional insect living in it is better for us and for nature. To live more harmoniously with the natural world, we need to relax about larvae in the lettuce and slugs in the spinach."
Jul 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "You’d think our brush with mortality through the pandemic would have brought some of this home to us. You’d think it would give us pause for thought about what really matters to us: the kind of world we want for our children; the kind of society we want to live in. And for many people it has. In a survey carried out during lockdown in the UK, 85% of respondents found something in their changed conditions they felt worth keeping and fewer than 10% wanted a complete return to normal."