Monday, 14 November 2016

No Thanks

Bigoted Scientists We Can Do Without

Anything that gets one chuckling over the cornflakes in the morning is a welcome tonic.  On Saturday morning last we moved beyond chuckling to belly laughter.  Richard Dawkins, has put forth a call to the New Zealand government to allow elite scientists in the Anglo world to migrate to New Zealand.  The recent election of Trump has been a step too far.

He wrote in Scientific American:

Dear New Zealand,

The two largest nations in the English-speaking world have just suffered catastrophes at the hands of voters—in both cases the uneducated, anti-intellectual portion of voters. Science in both countries will be hit extremely hard: In the one case, by the xenophobically inspired severing of painstakingly built-up relationships with European partners; in the other case by the election of an unqualified, narcissistic, misogynistic sick joke as president. In neither case is the disaster going to be short-lived: in America because of the nonretirement rule of the Supreme Court; in Britain because Brexit is irreversible.

There are top scientists in America and Britain—talented, creative people, desperate to escape the redneck bigotry of their home countries. Dear New Zealand, you are a deeply civilized small nation, with a low population in a pair of beautiful, spacious islands. You care about climate change, the future of the planet and other scientifically important issues. Why not write to all the Nobel Prize winners in Britain and America, write to the Fields medalists, Kyoto and Crafoord Prize and International Cosmos Prize winners, the Fellows of the Royal Society, the elite scientists in the National Academy of Sciences, the Fellows of the British Academy and similar bodies in America. Offer them citizenship. The contribution that creative intellectuals can make to the prosperity and cultural life of a nation is out of all proportion to their numbers. You could make New Zealand the Athens of the modern world.

Yes, dear New Zealand, I know it’s an unrealistic, surreal pipe dream. But on the day after U.S. election day, in the year of Brexit, the distinction between the surreal and the awfulness of the real seems to merge in a bad trip from which a pipe dream is the only refuge.

Richard Dawkins, founder and board chairman, Richard Dawkins Foundation
Mmmm.  Catastrophes at the hands of voters, eh?  One gets the distinct impression that Richard Dawkins is a secret Platonist, believing that society should be governed by the intelligent and enlightened philosopher-kings--that is, folk like himself.   Where to begin?
 First up, we would point out that this kind of thing is not new.  There is a sense in which we would gently counsel Dr Dawkins to "get in line", so to speak.  There have been plenty of people down the years who have been so dispirited and disgusted at their current country's actions to call for mass migration to New Zealand.

One of the least known was a call circa 1866 for former Confederate soldiers and their families to migrate en-masse from the United States to New Zealand.  They had lost the Civil War.  A tsunami of carpet baggers was descending upon the South.  It was a serious proposal to enable these suffering folk to begin again.  The leaders of the movement sought to recruit Robert E. Lee to their cause.  But that great man believed too deeply in the sovereign Providence of Almighty God and wisely declined.  The proposal eventually went the way of the dodo.

It may be a stretch too far to associate the elitist Dawkins with the starving, broken, defeated remnant of the Confederacy, but desperation makes for strange bedfellows.  Yet, it does give us pause and reason to cavil over the apparent lack of evolutionary progress of the human race.  Here we are, 150 years after the US Civil War, and the human race has not evolved at all--it would seem.

Secondly, Dr Dawkins appears to have a moral and political calculus which is puzzling, to say the least.  Eight years ago a bunch of white rednecks exercised their republican privileges and voted for Barack Hussein Obama.  How glorious.  Poor whites voting for a privileged black candidate.  All was well with the world.  Back then Dr Dawkins was not calling for his privileged colleagues to mass-migrate from the United States and the UK in protest.  Rather, he believed that Obama was right.  Upon his election and ascent to the White House, global temperatures would indeed fall.  Hurrah.

But eight years later, when those same whites failed to vote for Hillary Clinton, all of a sudden they were guilty of "redneck bigotry", and judgement and doom has descended upon the West.  So much for white rednecks.  You can never trust them in the clinch.

Thirdly, we are puzzled at the manifest elitism of the morally challenged Professor.  It would appear that for Dr Dawkins, Trump is a "an unqualified, narcissistic, misogynistic sick joke".  Let's accept that characterisation as true and accurate.  What, then, does the good doctor say about Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton?  Nary a word.  Dawkins's moral compass, presumably, would have quivered with electric excitement had Mrs Clinton, the most unqualified, narcissistic, mendacious, corrupt candidate standing for President in living memory, won.

Ah, Professor Dawkins, you have not got to base one, really.  We are still waiting to hear a scientific justification or account as to why your patrician, privileged moralising should be taken more seriously than the moral codes of the "redneck bigots" you so manifestly despise.  Since you cannot provide a scientific explanation--and in your world-view, science is the only truth--we believe it's reasonable to dismiss you as an empty elitist bigot.

Not the kind of person we want to have in New Zealand, which tends to pride itself on its mateship and egalitarianism.

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