Sunday, 29 January 2017

Let's call a fascist a fascist

When I began this blog a few years ago, I made decisions about content. One thing I was certain of, was that politics should have no place in it - I'm a Science lady, not the First lady (or, thankfully, the Iron lady). However, there are some times when we must break our own rules because silence is not acceptable.

Now is such a time. So please excuse this spillage into the dirty world of human politics. I feel the need to say just a few things before returning to my mammal's teeth and museum visits.

What is happening in the United States of America right now is not okay.

We are not used to bare-faced lies from politicians. They usually wriggle around the truth like earthworms in the rain, not quite uttering untruths, but avoiding saying anything quite true either. You can't get a straight answer out of them, it's in the job description. So when someone like Mr. Trump (he is no President), or one of his lackies, bare-faced lies to people on international television, we just don't know what to do with it.

Perhaps it is the truth? Surely no one would lie, right to our faces, like this? He's just stood there and said that black is white, and cats are actually dogs. Perhaps the media have just been showing us cats from a dog-like angle...? 

I understand your doubts, but this is exactly how regimes like his work. And when you try to pin them down, the people who run such regimes espouse stirring speeches that make you forget what the original question was - because things are bad, and won't they just make everything good again?

Why did the press secretary lie, asks Chuck Todd of the now infamous adviser to Trump, Kellyanne Conway. "Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck... our press secretary gave alternative facts". While Orwell spins in his grave, Conway ploughs into a rousingly passionate speech asking if it was a fact that women and children were poor, schools were failing, and people have no health care. By the time she finishes, you might find yourself riling at the injustice of it all - something has to be done!.... but these statements have nothing whatsoever to do with the question. Like the audience of a proverbial magician, we are the victims of misdirection. We're dazzled by the show, while Trump's regime tucks it's knives back into those deep, dark sleeves.

Lies are the least of our worries. Trump's openly hostile attitude to muslims and dehumanising of refugees is on level with history's most vile fascist leaderships. Don't let his seemingly democratic election win put you off. Just because people voted for him, this doesn't sanction his immoral, unconstitutional actions.

And as for what this fascist regime means for science? It is beyond Orwellian. Trump's lot like science if it does something commercially useful. He and his cronies, after all, have made their money - and will make shedloads more money - through the exploitation of the finite natural world. Petroleum is good. Conservation is bad. Space is good (there's resources in them there asteroids), but environmental science is bad.

Bringing back jobs to the industrial heartlands by resurrecting the ghosts of obsolete oil technology is like telling a friend she is better off going back to her abusive husband than trying to make a new life for herself. Okay, so you got some black eyes and broken bones, but at least when you lived under his roof he bought you pretty things, didn't he? Don't believe for a moment that Trump is doing it to benefit Joe Plumber. Trump's corrupt cronies want this industry to come back not for the working man, but because they will all make a personal fortune. Another fortune, to add to the ones they already enjoy. 

Trump's people want money, our climate and the future of our planet be damned.

In the UK meanwhile, our Prime Minister even seems intent on jumping on the Fascist-wagon. Darth May sings songs of how the good old Empire could strike back, because remember how good it was when we ruled the world? I mean, nothing bad ever happened to anyone back then, did it?

I'm horrified to find myself living through the beginning of what could become another dark age in the human story. Instead of building on decades of knowledge and debate, these people are intent on throwing it all out: babies and bathwater. 

Trump is not an amusing buffoon, he's dangerous. 

Why am I saying all this? Because I want to encourage you to do something about it. Read 1984 and Animal Farm. Read It Can't Happen Here. If you've already read them, read them again. Those books weren't written to make a buck, they were crafted as a warning to future ordinary citizens like us. Here, they say, this is how easily it happens. And if you voted for him, it is okay to change your mind. #WomansMarch #ScienceMarch - damn well march till your shoes wear thin, whether you join thousands in the streets of DC, or you and your mates stand and yell in the high street in Inverness. Tweet about it, shout about it. Help those who are suffering because of it. Support good journalism. Remember the lessons of history. 

Most of all, don't forget how lucky you are that you can do something. In many countries around the world, it isn't safe or possible to have such a voice. Yet.

I can assure you, cats are cats and dogs are dogs. And Trump, come on, you and I know exactly what he is.