In a recent column, I challenged the very concept of “expert” consensus, using global warming as an example. Unlike many right-wingers I did not outright deny that climate change was real, only that given our history and experience with expert opinion, even amongst scientists, today’s supposedly impenetrable truths often become tomorrow’s fiction. For example, blacks were once thought to be inferior to whites and homosexuals were once considered mentally deranged-all according to “science”-and I know racists and homophobes who still point to certain “data” to bolster their cases.
But science or no science, I instinctually have a problem reducing minorities or homosexuals to mere tests or charts, and can’t help but note that such “expert” consensus was dominant during eras when the ruling elite had an obvious disdain for blacks and gays. The very notion that science is somehow completely separate and untouched by the politics of its day seems fanciful at best.
Today, I find it hard to separate the hysteria over climate change with the trend toward globalism and disdain amongst elites for the concept of national sovereignty. Writes the UK Telegraph’s Janet Daley “2009 was the year in which ‘global’ swept the rest of the political lexicon into obscurity. There were ‘global crises’ and ‘global challenges,’ the only possible resolution to which lay in ‘global solutions’ necessitating ‘global agreements… The word ‘global’ has taken on sacred connotations. Any action taken in its name must be inherently virtuous, whereas the decisions of individual countries are necessarily ‘narrow’ and self-serving.”
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells an international summit in Copenhagen that we should spend $100 billion annually to help developing nations, allegedly to stop global warming, excuse me for thinking the same woman who was wrong about TARP, stimulus and the war in Iraq, might also be wrong about climate change, and for the same government-empowering reasons. With or without the aid of science, such wannabe masters of the universe frighten me and should frighten most Americans, or as Daley notes about Copenhagen “The dangerous idea that the democratic accountability of national governments should simply be dispensed with in favour of ‘global agreements’ reached after closed negotiations between world leaders never, so far as I recall, entered into the arena of public discussion. Except in the United States, where it became a very contentious talking point, the US still holding firmly to the 18th-century idea that power should lie with the will of the people.”
In my decade or so of punditry, I have learned that what some people choose to believe often has more to do with their political identity than logic. For conservatives and liberals alike, there has always been a certain dogmatism concerning certain issues and those sacred issues are never to be questioned–lest devout partisans be shaken in their faith.
As an antiwar conservative, similar in my foreign policy views to men like Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul, I quickly learned during the George W. Bush years that no matter how painfully obvious it became that there were no WMDs in Iraq, that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 and that everything the Bush administration had told the American people to justify his war had been a lie-most conservatives would still simply refuse to believe it. The “expert” consensus in 2002-2003 concerning Iraq had become such an integral part of conservative identity, that no amount of reasoning could dissuade true believers on the Right. Being conservative meant supporting Bush and supporting Bush meant supporting his war, with no ifs, ands, buts or dissent permitted.
Today, thankfully, many conservatives seem more inclined to shed that old religion, though some still cling pitifully to their holy Ws. During one of my rants on WTMA talk radio recently, in which I told listeners that Bush and his war had been a disaster for America, a distraught caller said “but Jack, I just can’t believe that.” I replied, “Sir, I’m well aware of this.”
In the age of Obama, liberals apply this same religiosity to climate change, or as columnist George Will notes “never in peacetime history has the government-media-academic complex been in such sustained propagandistic lockstep about any subject.”
Indeed. Like Bush Republicans and the Iraq war, global warming has become an integral part of liberal identity and the Left would no more question climate change than Christians would question the divinity of Christ. Whether in politics, science or both, this is exactly what blind faith is-and all the more reason to question it.