Letter to the Editor: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil…

People are the primary cause of climate change. We know that. The evidence is undeniable and overwhelming. Everyone with a sincere grasp on reality has come to recognize this fact. Armchair scientists collect information justifying what they prefer to believe. It used to be, they’d point out every snowstorm and call it “proof.” That doesn’t work, so they’ve come up with a variety of roundabout explanations that all say the same thing: Climate and weather are exclusively natural phenomena. They stretch their tortured reasoning to conclude: Only acts of God and nature can affect changes in climate. We don’t control the weather. Humans, carbon, oil companies, do not, cannot, impact the awesome, ever-changing forces of weather and nature. Basically, nothing to see here — there is no man-made climate crisis.

These are transparently political arguments, necessitated by allegiance to tribe and protecting a status-quo. Easily fabricated and reproduced, beginning with a grain of truth, they come a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, faulty, inexpert logic slapped together with dramatic imagery of our wild, untamed universe, has no basis in science or our current reality. Research, advanced knowledge, scientific consensus are of little importance to armchair theorists. When rationalizations fail, another quickly takes its place. It’s the politics, the tribe, the position that must be defended at every cost, not the truth. These lies mean big money for important people. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

The same formula works for people who deny the glaring neon facts about lying, cheating, wanna-be dictator, Donald Trump, and the events surrounding January 6th. Seven hours and thirty-seven minutes on a nongovernment phone during the insurrection, in the White House. What is he hiding?

See, hear, speak no evil, has always worked to legitimize racism, white supremacy, inequality, and bias in this country. Protected again and again by Republican voters. Their representatives in the Senate last week on display, acting like idiot circus clowns at Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Republicans in Plumas County, armed with Fox News talking points, will tell themselves, and us, there wasn’t a single thing racist or wrong with how the senators behaved. They likely share the fake outrage over her fake “soft record” on child porn offenders, and think Tucker is cute, trolling her for refusing to stoop to Senator Marsha Blackburn’s level and define the word “woman.” No, it’s Tucker whose intelligence is “sub genius.” It’s apparent, a significant portion of gray matter within the skull cavity was lost when replacing the original bow tie used to attach the animatronic head to the rest of the body.

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There’s no point debating people for whom wrong-thinking has become their identity. Republicans often don’t know what they think on issues until the talking points come down, beyond hating Biden and Democrats. They grow sure and emboldened over time as messaging takes shape and gains momentum.

A friend, a political rival, and I went to breakfast a few days after January 6th. I thought, “Surely, he’ll acknowledge things on the Right have gone too far.” Fascinatingly, my friend, who always has a lot to say in defense of his party and Trump, told me he was “over politics.” Using it as a conversation killer. There was a tacit, remorseful admission that Biden had won the election. We talked about anything and everything else. A few months later, out to lunch, my friend was himself again, unable to talk of anything except politics. By then, every expert, every thinking person on the subject, every court, had confirmed Biden’s win, but my friend had changed his mind. He felt there was evidence “out there” proving otherwise. I was hearing “Antifa,” and simultaneously that the insurrection wasn’t a big deal. Democrats, as he now saw it, were exaggerating January 6th. There was the hint of a budding notion Democrats were persecuting insurrectionist “heroes.”

It’s good, progress maybe, that the anti-intellectualism, anti-science, anti-facts viewpoint valued by Republicans has not held as firm concerning Ukraine. It’s only oober-fringe Trumpers still praising Putin. Though, as a group, Republicans have been slow to arrive at a rational outlook on the war in Ukraine, for a democracy. Not that Trump will ever stop asking Putin for special favors.

Helene Day

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