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

Jan 23rd 2020
EXTRACT: " For the first time in over two decades a painting by Marc Chagall will be going up for auction in Israel. Tiroche Auction House will be hosting the Israeli & International Art auction on January 25th – featuring paintings by a number of Israeli masters, including Reuben Rubin, and Yosl Bergner. The highlight of the evening however is Chagall’s Jacob’s Ladder (1970-1974), a theme to which the artist would return at least a dozen times in paintings and drawings."
Jan 16th 2020
EXTRACT: "Between 1940 and 1942 Charlotte Salomon, a young German-Jewish artist, created a sequence of 784 paintings while hiding from the Nazi authorities. She gave the sequence a single title: Leben? oder Theater? (Life? or Theatre?). Viewed in the 21st century, Salomon’s artwork could be considered a precursor to the contemporary graphic novel, creating a complex web of narratives through words and images."
Jan 9th 2020
EXTRACT: "It’s simply not possible to do justice to the value of Iran’s cultural heritage – it’s a rich and noble history that has had a fundamental impact on the world through art, architecture, poetry, in science and technology, medicine, philosophy and engineering. The Iranian people are intensely aware – and rightly proud of – their Persian heritage. The archaeological legacy left by the civilisations of ancient and medieval Iran extend from the Mediterranean Sea to India and ranges across four millennia from the Bronze age (3rd millennium BC) to the glorious age of classical Islam and the magnificent medieval cities of Isfahan and Shiraz that thrived in the 9th-12th centuries AD, and beyond."
Jan 9th 2020
EXTRACT: "Lautrec had a genius for representing people. He would rarely paint any other subject. When he looked at a person who caught his interest, not only their appearance, but seemingly also their personality would magically flow from his hand, fixing a moment of their life, and his, on a piece of cardboard or canvas."
Jan 7th 2020
EXTRACT: "In 2010, Great Britain generated 75% of its electricity from coal and natural gas. But by the end of the decade*, these fossil fuels accounted for just 40%, with coal generation collapsing from the decade’s peak of 41% in 2012 to under 2% in 2019. The near disappearance of coal power – the second most prevalent source in 2010 – underpinned a remarkable transformation of Britain’s electricity generation over the last decade, meaning Britain now has the cleanest electrical supply it has ever had. Second place now belongs to wind power, which supplied almost 21% of the country’s electrical demand in 2019, up from 3% in 2010. As at the start of the decade, natural gas provided the largest share of Britain’s electricity in 2019 at 38%, compared with 47% in 2010."
Jan 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "Owing to these positive developments, many were lulled into thinking that modern advanced economies can run on autopilot. And yet economists knew that market capitalism does not automatically self-correct for adverse distributional trends (both secular and transitional), especially extreme ones. Public policies and government services and investments have a critical role to play. But in many places, these have been either non-existent or insufficient. The result has been a durable pattern of unequal opportunity that is contributing to the polarization of many societies. This deepening divide has a negative spillover effect on politics, governance, and policymaking, and now appears to be hampering our ability to address major issues, including the sustainability challenge."
Jan 2nd 2020
In September 2018, Ian Buruma was forced out as editor of The New York Review of Books, following an outcry over the magazine’s publication of a controversial essay about #MeToo. A year later, in a conversation with Svenska Dagbladet US correspondent Malin Ekman, he reflects on lost assignments, literature, cancel culture, threats to freedom of speech, and the state of liberal democracy.
Dec 31st 2019
EXTRACT: "I have long been troubled by the way so many believing Christians in the West have either been ignorant of or turned their backs on the plight of Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim. Right​-wing Evangelicals, under the sway of heretical theology, are so blinded by their obsession with Israel that they can't see Israel's victims. Other Western Christians simply just don't know or about the people of Palestine. I find this state of affairs to always distressing, but especially so at Christmas time, since the Christmas story we celebrate not only took place in that land, it continues to define the lives of the Palestinians who live in places like Bethlehem and Nazareth. "
Dec 19th 2019
EXTRACT: "Although there have long been farmers and merchants who specialised in growing and selling seeds, it wasn’t until the 20th century that people started talking about seed production as an industrial process. Thanks to changes in farming, science and government regulations, most of the “elite” seed that is bought and sold around the world today is mass produced and mass marketed — by just four transnational corporations."
Dec 14th 2019
EXTRACT: "Dehydration is associated with a higher risk of ill health in older people, from having an infection, a fall or being admitted to hospital. But an appetite for food and drink can diminish as people age, so older people should drink regularly, even when they’re not thirsty. Older women who don’t have to restrict their fluid intake for medical reasons, such as heart or kidney problems, are advised to drink eight glasses a day. For older men, it’s ten glasses."
Dec 12th 2019
EXTRACT: "A decade ago, I wrote The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. This month, a fully revised Tenth Anniversary edition was published, and is available, free, as an eBook and audiobook. The chapters of the audiobook are read by celebrities, including Paul Simon, Kristen Bell, Stephen Fry, Natalia Vodianova, Shabana Azmi, and Nicholas D’Agosto. Revising the book has led me to reflect on the impact it has had, while the research involved in updating it has made me focus on what has changed over the past ten years"
Nov 27th 2019
EXTRACT: "Jay Willis at GQ reports that Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said on Fox and Friends that Trump is God’s Chosen One. He said he told Trump, “If you’re a believing Christian, you understand God’s plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet and our government.” Perry also said that he had written a memo for Trump about how God uses imperfect people, comparing Trump to biblical figures such as Solomon, Saul and David, who were also flawed. This evangelical discourse that a providential God controls political power goes back to old West Semitic Religion"
Nov 7th 2019
Extract: "The PSA test is done using a small amount of blood to detect raised levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA). Yet, despite its relatively low cost and ease of administering, it is not offered for routine screening in many countries, including the UK. This is because a significant proportion of those testing positive have no disease (a false-positive result), slow-growing cancer that doesn’t need treatment, or positive results caused by a relatively benign condition, such as a urinary tract infection. Detecting prostate cancer early is important and saves lives. But many of those identified by the PSA test as having elevated levels of the antigen could potentially undergo painful treatment with significant life-altering side effects, which were unnecessary. Also, up to 15% of men with prostate cancer have normal PSA levels (a false-negative result), meaning that many men would receive unwarranted reassurance from this test. Guidelines in most countries, therefore, note that the possible benefits of testing are outweighed by the potential harms of over-diagnosis and over-treatment, making it unsuitable for screening everyone."
Nov 5th 2019
Extract: "Ken Loach’s film, Sorry We Missed You, tells the harrowing tale of Ricky, Abby and their family’s attempts to get by in a precarious world of low paid jobs and the so-called “gig economy”. But how realistic is it? Can Loach’s film be accused of undue pessimism?"
Nov 3rd 2019
Extract: "Travel to Prague, Kyiv, or Bucharest today and you will find glittering shopping malls filled with imported consumer goods: perfumes from France, fashion from Italy, and wristwatches from Switzerland. At the local Cineplex, urbane young citizens queue for the latest Marvel blockbuster movie. They stare at sleek iPhones, perhaps planning their next holiday to Paris, Goa, or Buenos Aires. The city center hums with cafés and bars catering to foreigners and local elites who buy gourmet groceries at massive hypermarkets. Compared to the scarcity and insularity of the communist past, Central and Eastern Europe today is brimming with new opportunities.......In these same cities, however, pensioners and the poor struggle to afford the most basic amenities. Older citizens choose between heat, medicine, and food. In rural areas, some families have returned to subsistence agriculture."
Nov 3rd 2019
EXTRACTS: "Genetic clustering has existed in all past societies. People have typically been relatively genetically similar to others nearby. But most of this was because of limited mobility."........."But in the 19th and 20th centuries, people started to move about more. Societies opened up geographically, and socially. This new mobility has created a new kind of clustering – what the American author Thomas Friedman called a “great sorting out”.".........".....this is now visible at the genetic level too."
Oct 9th 2019
EXTRACT: "The idea that we are living in an entrepreneurial age, experiencing rapid disruptive technological innovation on a scale amounting to a new “industrial revolution” is a pervasive modern myth. Scholars have written academic papers extolling the coming of the “entrepreneurial economy”. Policymakers and investors have pumped massive amounts of funding into start-up ecosystems and innovation. Business schools, universities and schools have moved entrepreneurship into their core curricula. The only problem is that the West’s golden entrepreneurial and innovation age is behind it. Since the 1980s entrepreneurship, innovation and, more generally, business dynamics, have been steadily declining – particularly so in the US. "
Aug 28th 2019
EXTRACT: ". But today, the impulse to gain attention on social media has produced a discourse of extreme defamation and scorched-earth tactics aimed at destroying one’s opponents. We desperately need a broad-based movement to stand up against this type of political discourse. American history is replete with examples of people who worked together to solve – or at least defuse – serious problems, often against great odds and at significant personal risk. But the gradual demise of fact-based history in schools seems to have deprived many Americans of the common ground and optimism needed to work through challenges in the same way they once did."
Aug 8th 2019
Consider the following facts as you wend your way to the Guggenheim Museum and its uppermost gallery, where you will presently find The Death of Michael Stewart (1983), Basquiat’s gut-punching tribute to a slain artist, and the centerpiece for an exhibition that could hardly be more timely.