1 December 2020   Leave a comment

I made the mistake of watching the evening news tonight. I heard two people in South Dakota, which has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the US, make the following comments: “I’m not sick. Why should I be forced to wear a mask?”; and “What gives the government the right to tell me what to wear?” (I noticed that the gentleman making the second comment was actually clothed to the dismay of many nudists in America). The comments reflect the all-out assault on logic and evidence that the current Administration has conducted for the last four years.

We now find ourselves in a situation where a large proportion of the American people believe that the national election was fraudulent even though no evidence has surfaced that could possibly call the election into question. Under such conditions, it is hard to imagine that President-elect Biden will be able to lead effectively even as the twin threats of COVID-19 and the economic pressures on the American middle and lower classes promise to become even more intolerable and intractable. The larger issue is the extent to which many American citizens no longer believe that the principles and values of the Enlightenment are viable. It is hard for me to imagine what a post-Enlightenment America would be, but I fear that it would be more feudal than fascist. And it certainly would not be an America governed by the Constitution.

I will confess that I cannot think about what has happened to the country over the last four years from a clinical or dispassionate perspective. I have not been able to follow the advice I have given to many students over my teaching career when they are confronted with intense disagreements: Do not take the disagreement personally. I can, however, give an idea of how strongly I feel about this in a Baccalaureate Speech I gave to the seniors of the class of 2014. It was a defense of the Liberal Arts which, in my mind, embody the highest aspirations of the Enlightenment. Most importantly, it is an expression of my views in the absence of the anger, disillusionment, and pathos I feel tonight.

Posted December 1, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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