Alt-Facts or Alt-Universe?

VIEWPOINTS LETTERS TO THE EDITOR I have been trying to get my head around the current, politico-contemporary use of the prefix “alt”.

I grew up in the 1950’s in what I think was a Republican household, and my first recollection of national politics was the Eisenhower v. Stevenson debate. The 1950’s were kinder, more respectful times: politicians could debate among themselves, and neighbor could disagree with neighbor. But in the end, it was all about the overall good of the nation and not the selfie-ego-centricity rampant today.

The most frightening thing for me was the vague idea of some Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR. And I seem to recall a sense of uneasiness during the televised McCarthy hearings; I had never witnessed such anger. At some point, in our mid-last-century naiveté, I and multitudes of others were becoming participants to the end of the melting pot; a time when civility and acceptance were giving way to an increasing xenophobia that I thought had ended with the deaths of Auschwitz and Manzanar. One might say that the world lost its innocence during those and the next precipitous decades.

We may have matured from that far away and long ago galaxy, but we still are unable to create a utopia or to find the solution to any problem. There are no absolutes: even the sky is not blue; especially if you live in Hong Kong. And there is no one person who has an absolute “fix” for what ails us; not the Pope, not the Dalai Lama, not Kim Jong-un, not the Ayatollah, not Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, Sean Hannity, Kelly Ann Conway, Chuck Schumer, Maya Angelou or even Donald Trump.

“Don’t Tread on Me.” “E Pluribus Unum.” “Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses….” “Time heals all wounds.” “We’re going to build a wall.” “The more things change….” “Blame it on rock ‘n roll.” “Do unto others….” “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, ask: ‘What can I do for my country?’” “Make America great [white?] again.” Do these sentences contain “the” truth, or are they guides during our journeys toward truth?

As it happens, I voted for Hillary; not because I fi nd her to be an unimpeachably honest person, but because of her Weltanshauung — her World View — and because I think she grasps the it-takes-a-village concept of inter-dependence. I also had the hope that our constitutional balance of powers would rein her in where necessary and spur her on where appropriate.

The one, prime reason I could not vote for Mr. Trump is that he reignited my old McCarthy era fears. I thought — and still do — that he’s too angry; he’s an undisciplined playground bully; he’s too full of himself; he’s a volatile and loose cannon, he seems to disrespect others; and he has no moral filter. He uses people, and, regardless of his tone, his message is still the same: “Me first.”

“Drain the swamp,” “take back the White House” and “build a wall” each shared prominence during Mr. Trump’s campaign. Since his inauguration, though, these and other talking points have been “walked back” through his — and his lackeys — use of alternative truths and alternative facts.

There is a rich human history of scientific and private/public discussions engaging their participants in searches for various solutions. When these discourses have been quashed, heinous consequences have occurred.

So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I intend to write a true story about an actual alternative universe somewhere about 40 light-years away; basing it on the recent (Feb. 22) NASA announcement. NASA has pictures of the Trappist-1 solar system and its seven planets; three of which are in its “Goldilocks Zone.” Stay tuned: more alt-facts to follow. Cris Torp is a resident of South Beach.

Cris Torp is a resident of South Beach.

Newport News Times, March 17, 2017, A8

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