With hearts grown brutal…

Less than seven days after the very destructive Joplin tornado, part of an unprecedented tornado swarm caused by global warming, the major newspaper in St Louis contains no discussion of global warming.

In the distant past, a reporter would seek out a university meteorologist who would then tell the truth:

1. These “mile wide tornadoes” are without precedent: in the past, most tornadoes were funnel clouds.

2. Weighted by intensity and multiplied by the number of tornadoes, this year’s “swarm” is unprecedented. Youtube is filling up with more and more videos of these storms.

3. Unprecedented and violent weather involving the heat-induced transfer of air and water is occuring all over the world. The Earth is becoming a planet radically different from that which saw the rise of civilization.

4. Global warming is a reality.

But, of course, no university faculty in today’s world dares to speak out in this way.

Sure, blogs, Facebook pages, and even some print newspapers have no end of opinion columns, like Bill McKibben’s Op-Ed in the Washington Post which will make prestige space available to some. But note that most newspapers in the USA, now owned, for the most part, by media conglomerates, will relegate these opinions to online comments where, of course, they must needs be corralled with the views of the local zanies.

And, even the Washington Post labels McKibben’s piece as “opinion” when in fact, global warming is now known as factual as “cigarettes aren’t good for you.” That’s because it’s always safe, in the repressive tolerance of a First Amendment society, to have an opinion. For, as they say in the Army, opinions are like assholes. Everyone’s got one. If you express an opinion in this climate, it will for the most part be ignored and/or disbelieved, for ordinary people, having lost the capacity to have or defend opinions, prefer Fundamentalist belief and conspiracy theories.

McKibben himself shoots himself in the foot.,The title of the piece is “A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never!”. This is a flaccid and disempowering irony, which protects the ironist by making it seem more important to mock the disbeliever in climate change than to do something about climate change itself.

Instead of containing a news story about what we know (that, for example, CO2 is now considered to be above the levels that made the earth habitable for thousands of years), the St Louis Post-Dispatch leads with a story about an African American mother who it is claimed killed her baby. That’s because a growing, if under-reported, panic is occuring over these storms and the search for scapegoats has begun.

The diversion (and a diversion it is, because to report the “crime” of the mother as if it is known before trial that she is guilty is news as sick and perverted entertainment) shall, I predict, become witch trials in a few years if flooding and tornadoes continue, communication between communities breaks down, and the Republicans defund emergency services.

Americans will get the Mad Max life they’ve been fantasizing about for too many years, and revert to the barbarism they lust for. And China will become the center of the next civilization…badly damaged by its own environmental problems including the worst drought in fifty years.

I rarely socialize with the many Americans here. One was a manager who announced on the Internet that English teachers in Asia (whom she supervised at the time) were a lower life form, and then proceeded to humiliate one of her reports online. She was so full of herself, so certain that every one of her choices was maximal, that it was impossible to have a normal, human conversation with her.

Another was a lawyer who calmly and with a smirk announced that to get an A in his Constitutional law class at Harvard, he simply parroted what his professor, Lawrence Tribe had said…despite the fact that he was a conservative (and a racist, it was plain during our one and only conversation) and Tribe a liberal.

Now, these two characters are very different from the rural folks in Missouri who can’t be bothered with global warming and prefer Jesus. But in all three cases there’s a sort of Dorothy. All you need is not love but a lie.

In the first case, the person who thought that English teachers are a lower life form was herself an English teacher in Asia. In the second, the lie was palpable. In the case of Fundamentalism and waiting for the End of Days (rather than doing something about global warming) the lie is also obvious.

My own ex-wife says that my grown children have a free choice to ignore me which isn’t quite true. It’s passive-aggressive brutality and strikes at the root of what makes us human. I honor a father who abused me for the same reason Bill Clinton went to Duke Medical Center to hold his step-father’s (not his natural father’s) hand as his abusive step-father died of cancer, but the Lie is that we’re morally free (or even free in the sense of preserving our long term emotional health) when we’re free in Hobbes’ sense of “can”=”ought”. The kids “can” ignore me but they’re playing with fire, for loving a parent means forgiveness.

But our Lie is now what makes us half-human. The lie that I was “abandoning” my kids in 1981 when in fact I was on the verge of a Nash-style breakdown that, I knew, would render me unemployable and thus unable to support my children, and took steps to remedy that situation. The American lie that this gives my kids a right to ignore me today and treat my loving emails as Nigerian spam.

“Believe my fantasy as the price of my friendship: enter my reality distortion field as the price of my love”

“Sell our garbage with enthusiasm: write the code any old how as long as you make me look good.”

“For there are no facts, only opinions, and, opinions are like assholes, asshole: everyone’s got one.”

“Make me a reality in which I am cherished and you come home at five o’clock to a house with a white picket fence, and there’s never any need to work until three to meet a deadline.”

Or, in Yeats:

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love; O honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

Or as I wrote last year:

We don’t say much but we say it loud
O come see the boiling cloud.


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