These past few months have been remarkable in a panoply of ways. Among them has been the decided destruction of millions of life-sustaining and hope-providing jobs. Not so remarkable is that it has produced unprecedented growth in wealth and power for others. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, brags of record earnings facilitated by vast lockdowns of the American economy, while, not surprisingly, aggressively supporting elected officials and policies that will restrict lockdown dissent. And to many of those even well-intentioned bureaucrats, the ability to literally control by force the thinking of their fellow Americans is too tempting to overlook. These opportunities don’t come along very often.
One is reminded of the prevailing scientific fact of previous generations, and the use of privilege and power to prevent legitimate challenge to those facts. It was certain and observable that Pluto was a planet, that blood-letting kept balance in the humors, and that the world is, in fact, unequivocally flat. OK. Still, there were some who dared to question: “How do we know for certain? Can’t we just consider alternatives Under risk of inquisition, study continued and our collective knowledge creaked forward. For many, a challenge to the accepted and dominant academy is a required part of the scientific process. To others, it is to spread dangerous misinformation, heresy and subversive thought. First, we shame and discredit the offenders. Then, we cause their family harm. Ultimately, if persisting that the Earth might be round, they will force us to elimination through detention or worse.
Power abhors dissent, and we like power. When in authority, we work to silence opposition. And when not, we demand that our dissenting voice is heard while marching the streets and crying foul. Even as we talk of a “new” normal, the “old” normal seems abundantly still around.