It’s been happening slowly over decades but accelerating quickly over the last eight years. When first confronted by the facts of a changing climate the Republicans /conservatives decided to turn the lack of political will to make hard choice and changes into a fight against science and scientists. The Republicans were never willing to make the hard, but valid, choice to say that they were ignoring the science of climate change and the implications to the country and the world by continuing policy unchanged because acting might impact businesses. They did not have that courage instead they chose to denigrate not only the scientists but also the science.
I had an up front and personal look at the attacks on the atmospheric sciences community. A quarter century ago, as a young twenty something working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, I was surprised to learn that members of congress was pressing the place I worked for personal information about everyone who worked there. We were a private non profit that received federal funding, because we had people and programs that did climate research, we were a target. They did not want to know more about the science, or the research methodology, no they wanted to know more about the people who worked at our organization. We were a private organization, with private individuals, many who had nothing to do with the climate science. They didn’t care. I feel lucky that despite pressure with repeated requests over years those requests were never granted.
The Republicans could not argue with the science so they denied it. Over the years my own program, through the MetEd website, was providing education on all matters around the atmospheric sciences, including climate science. I understand the science of climate change. I know the scientists who do that research. I know the reality more closely than most. The facts that their research was based on and that there was no grand conspiracy of scientists for research dollars. As someone I respect a lot said, the science is settled, we want to move on to other research topics.
That denial of science became a bedrock of the denial of facts that the republicans have expanded over the last two decades+ especially over the last 8 years. They do not acknowledge the reality of science, of statistics, of the economy, of job growth and most especially of “racial bias”.
The Republican/conservative world does not want to acknowledge that there is a problem to be faced in this country. In their view if black people would just comply correctly they would not have problems with police. Comply, follow orders, even contradictory, say sir. If you just did all these things your race would not matter. They deny the need for a talk. They deny the lived experience of their own colleagues. They deny our history. When John McCain lost to Barrack Obama, he went from being a man who could see both sides of an issue, of a man who was worthy of respect to be being someone who sees the black President as not competent. Look back at history and less than a hundred years ago we denied the ability of black individuals to fly an airplane or serve in the military. Just as women were denied. The denial of the President went as far as to deny his birthplace, his citizenship. Even his religion was questioned. That has never been done to a President before. The Republicans decided from day one that their main goal was not to serve the country but to deny the President a second term and any success. By working against the President they worked against the country and even further they refuse to accept the actual signs of success. They deny facts.
As a country we have to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter is important. We have to be a country where parents do not have to have a talk, where parents do not have to worry about not coming home at night, that there children will not come home when they take a toy to the park to play. We have to acknowledge in a country where some say that one profession cannot be held accountable, that they must have freedom from repercussion for their actions because their profession is dangerous. We have a problem. The thing with a uniform is that it can be taken off but you cannot take your skin color off. A profession that is made more dangerous by the presence of more guns than people, the ability to carry them wherever, however, but is still a profession. There must be accountability. When we hear from a President, to a physicist, to an actor, to a teacher, to a police officer, to a surgeon, to a parent that there is a talk, that they have fear, we must listen.
You are entitled to your opinion but facts must matter. We must listen to each other and I argue that we must have a national reconciliation. We can’t just ignore the issue. When thousands, millions cry that Black Lives Matter we must acknowledge that it is not racist, that the answer is not all lives matter it is that YES, we hear you, we know we must change. We must have the hard conversations. We must be willing to say not just that most cops are wonderful, good people, but that yes there are bad cops. When those cops act badly there must be consequences. When a child is shot in a park, when a father is shot in a store, or a car, or even running away those people cannot all be innocent. There cannot always be a reason, especially one that is based in the perception of fear. If your skin is dark you have to feel equal, you have to be treated equally, you have to be EQUAL.
The Republicans do not own their own set of facts. They have to live with the ones that are real, whether they like them or not. If they cannot do that then we cannot move forward and we will be forever broken.