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  •  Don't just hold hearings. Save science! (6+ / 0-)

    Bravo! But it isn’t enough merely to safeguard the freedoms of the Ivory Tower. No, that is not nearly good enough at this point. We are under invasion, under threat. The president and his administration are not an aberration. The Republican Congress is not a fluke. Somewhere out there, in the conservative heartland where people like to believe they are more American than me, dozens of millions of ordinary people have been indoctrinated with a righteous contempt for human learning.

    Religious fundamentalists hate science. Where once the greatest scientific minds in history strove to understand the workings of the world in the name of proving God’s immanence, their labors were so stupendously fruitful that today our knowledge has become so great that not a single equation need invoke the Almighty. Our old ways of perceiving the Divine have been roundly discredited, beyond dispute. For all the reasons we need not linger upon here, this is an unforgivable offense to Christian fundamentalism in 21st century America. These are people who believe we have gone too far. They want Christian science to rule again. They crave a return to the willful ignorance of old.

    And people listen to them! Every night, so many impressionable people tune in as Bill O’Reilly and his ilk slander us—not just those of us in lab coats, but the whole concept of pursuing disinterested knowledge. People have come to believe that science and academia are cesspools of the far left. A friend told me just this week that global warming is only an excuse for liberals to implement a socialist agenda. And do you remember the HPV vaccine that the Religious Right railed against last year, because they believed that preventing cervical cancer would give women a license to be more promiscuous? I want Rep. Miller to understand that we are not up against well-meaning people with a case of selective hearing. Something is rotten in Denmark. Few cultural movements could be so deleterious to our country as the one which leads to a rift between science and the people.

    Forgive me the digression. I point it out because minority party muckraking is not enough to undo what is happening here. Productive hearings are not going to happen in Dennis Hastert’s House, and I for one am with Markos in doubting our chances of regaining Congressional majorities this November.

    I have a more rigorous suggestion. Science needs a champion in Washington. Science needs the Democratic Party. The NOAA, the NASA, the NSF, the EPA...they’re all flapping in the wind. President Bush had the nerve to call for grand voyages to the moon and Mars, knowing full well the agency is stressed and starved. He took one of my life’s dreams and turned it into a farce that night; the only thing his policies are going to put into the sky is a higher pie.

    Science is languishing. It isn’t being taught properly in our schools, it isn’t being talked about in Washington, and the media have taken to pleasuring themselves with reports on the exodus of American brainpower and skilled labor to other nations, and the demise of America’s once-unsurpassable technological edge.

    You know those banners that hang behind candidates at campaign events? If Rep. Miller wants to do something about scientific freedoms in America, he will get the word “science” plastered up on those banners alongside “healthcare,” “education,” and “security,” because science is the common link between all of these things, and the Republicans have established themselves as the party against science.

    Science can help the Democratic Party back into power, and an empowered Democratic Party can help science back onto its feet in a way that minority party hearings never will. Certainly I do not discourage Rep. Miller’s important work in collecting evidence of suppression of science that opposes the administration’s policy, but if we want that evidence to count for something, we need the American people to care about science again. They have every reason to care, from safer freeways, to real-time weather reports, to cleaner drinking water; from faster Internet connections, to more energy-efficient refrigerators, to hybrid vehicles that save gas; from more secure ports, to cheaper airplane tickets, to more ergonomic office chairs and bicycles; from better medicines, to new live-saving surgical techniques; to less painful therapies for disease and injury; from nimbler fire and police services, to better recordkeeping for corporations, to flashier movies on the big screen; from the economic windfalls of research and development, to the creation of better-paying and more rewarding jobs, to the hope that our children can stand upon our shoulders in achievement and understanding; from knowing which levees need to be reinforced, to knowing the health a salmon run, to testing for arsenic in our drinking water; from every quarter of human life, science is the byword for a better life, in a stronger country, in a sager world.

    Doubtless I have used up my podium time. Let me just end by saying that we need to get “science” back into the Democratic lexicon. I hope Rep. Miller can take this message to those of his distinguished colleagues who are willing to listen to (what I believe to be) our day’s most important truth.

    •  Bravo (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teeb, madcitymelvin

      Democrats - the party of science

      It has a nice ring to it.

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. -- Daniel Patrick Monynihan

      by Unstable Isotope on Fri Apr 14, 2006 at 05:51:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Assault on science began in 80s (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran, Overseas, teeb

      The Reagan administration, while not overtly anti-science in the manor of Bush, cut funding for basic research and began the wholesale privatization of science.

      One of the consequences is the shortage of new antibiotics in the pipeline and the failure to keep up with growing resistance in pathogens.  Reagan cut funding for basic bacterial research, which is where these new drug possibilities originate.  Not much profit in this kind of work, so it has withered without federal support.

      We can thank Republicans for this public health problem.

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