Neil deGrasse Tyson posted a political statement on twitter today.
If the Pledge of Allegiance told the truth: pic.twitter.com/Iy5zoyMOls
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) April 2, 2015
And the denizens of the internet mostly lost their collective mind. But did he really say anything controversial?
First of all, I’m not a huge fan of the Pledge of Allegiance. I feel that my country and my state are worth my respect and my effort to make better. I don’t feel that the political leaders are (mostly) and I certainly don’t feel that way about the flag. It’s a piece of fabric that is a symbol of our country. It’s a symbol… not the country.
There’s always been an undercurrent of division in the US. There’s the minority vs. whites. The men vs. women. The Christians vs. non-Christians. The Cowboys fans vs everyone else. Some of these divisions are minor (despite what most sports fans think) and some are epic, possibly country shattering issues.
It’s well known and documented that minorities are arrested more frequently and get harsher punishments for the same crimes as whites. Women are paid less and have their medical rights controlled by men. Christians want (demand!) that everyone do things their way. And Cowboys fans… well… they’re just nuts.
While we, as a country, are trying to get more equality, the wealth gap is widening. Rules are definitely not the same for the wealthy as the non-wealthy. This recent “religious freedom” bill in Indiana is an example of the last few remnants of a dying religion trying to control the affairs of people it has no business in.
The Supreme Court is certainly not in the business of helping people out. They are interpreting a set of rules that have existed for over 200 years and trying to incorporate new technology, new cultural norms, and a rapidly changing society into a set of rules whose authors couldn’t even imagine a world where I can write this and instantly post it to hundreds of millions of people all over the world.
Plus, it’s been obvious for some time that they are not really considering the laws, but voting almost purely along political lines. This is a court, politics should have no business there. But we (and I include myself in this) have predicted, with remarkable accuracy the results of dozens of the most important SCOTUS cases in the last few years. There’s been a few flip-flops, but not many and the court is extremely conservative.
But the Citizens United case was a very telling case that really disrupted the political landscape of the US. I found this article particularly telling: In 2016 campaign, the lament of the not quite rich enough
But there is a palpable angst among mid-level fundraisers and donors that their rank has been permanently downgraded. One longtime bundler recently fielded a call from a dispirited executive on his yacht, who complained, “We just don’t count anymore.”
Mid-range in this case is anything south of $500,000. The Koch bothers have been rumored to spend almost $900 million dollars on the 2016 elections. The beneficiaries are going have to make some promises and keep them to get that kind of campaign cash (not that it seemed to help in the 2012 elections).
We are divisible. When people who are calling just for some accountability are tear-gassed and people who want nothing more than to love the person that they love are legally changed to second class citizens, then we live in a divided country. The winners in these elections and the billionaires that pay for them may not see it, but the people make minimum wage see it. The people who are being charged with petty crimes, thousands of dollars in court fees and late charges, which ends up being 2/3rds of a city’s budget sure see it. People who are not a member of the majority group see it.
Shockingly, even though I’m a white male, I’m a minority in the US. As an atheist, I am a member of a group that legally (though not constitutional) cannot hold office in several US states. My fellow atheists and I are ranked slightly lower than used care-salesmen and lawyers on the trust scale.
I love my country, but it sure feels like the other people on Earth are looking at the US as the most dysfunctional family in history. When the leaders of the congress’s lower house tells the world not to listen to our president, we’ve got a fundamental problem.
And part of the problem is that we are so divided. We can’t even agree, as a nation, that providing health care for our people is a good thing. How insane is that?
If anything, I think deGrasse Tyson was a little too gentle.
I think that we can be great. We have the potential and we have the ability. But we have to convince the people to quit electing morons into our public offices. We have to elect people that think, that are not corruptible. We have to elect people who will represent the people of this nation, not the billionaires.