Monday, January 18, 2021

Whitey on the Moon

I read a book review.
An anthology of poems.
By African-Americans
Edited by The New Yorker's poetry editor.

I placed the order.
A pre-publication order.
A delayed gratification
For one who aces a marshmallow test!

The doorbell rang.
I saw the brown uniform walking away.
"Thank you" I yelled out
Even though he didn't hear me.

I opened the book
Somewhere to near the middle.
I was blown away
By the poem on the page.

Such issues have always bothered me
Which is why I quit engineering too
Are science and tech so important
To neglect the real needs of the poor?

I have blogged in plenty
About these awful injustices.
Including this about the protest
In advance of the Apollo 11 launch.

"Around 150 Americans,
Mostly black mothers and their children,
Walking with two mule-drawn wagons
through light mist and rolling thunder.

The contrast was dramatic:
mules and rockets, rambling wagons
and a vast sky to be conquered."
The poor Blacks who marched on Cape Kennedy!

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome ...
... some day

Friday, January 15, 2021

Plumbers, not philosophers?

Many people are asking themselves and others how an insurrection could have happened.  To which I feel like reminding them what Voltaire said quite a while ago: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

If you can make them believe that the President is actually a Muslim who was born in Kenya and that he forged his birth certificate, well, you can certainly make them commit atrocities.

Of course, such a situation does not arise every day.  Thankfully!

But, the absurdities come in all types.

Claims like how the Hindu god Ganesha is evidence of cosmetic surgery in ancient India. Or that Karna in Mahabharata was a result of advanced genetic science and technology. Or, absurdities like how wind turbines cause cancer, or about building a wall at the Mexico border as a solar wall so it creates energy and pays for itself. Or drinking bleach to cure Covid-19!

Those were absurdities, yes.  But, the believers were ready to commit atrocities like lynching non-Hindus for eating beef, or even for expressing love across religions.  Atrocities like caging mothers and separating their children from them; refugees turned away; pregnant mothers facing the possibility of prosecuted as criminal killers if they aborted their fetuses; white supremacists marching with flaming torches; ...

How did Voltaire know as truth that if you can make enough people believe in absurdities, you can make them commit atrocities too?

Of course, Voltaire did not make that observation in the context of "democratic" politics.  It was against blind faith. He ranted about organized religion.  Voltaire argued in favor of logic and reason.

One would argue that this is all the more the reason that we should teach logic and reason, and bring in Voltaire and Socrates and more in higher education.

One could.

Some of us did.

The result?

The philosophy department at our university is on death row now, and will be gone in December.  While I am no philosopher, I, too, might be exiled for life!