The more people who peel off, the more dangerous it becomes for those remaining in the streets who resist. So this is hard for me to read. I post a link to the below article by Robert Young, not because I agree, but because I want to think about it some more. I’m wondering how his piece will read six months from now. Four years from now.
My first response is: stop pretending that scientists won’t have to resist what’s coming; that they can adopt an above-it-all neutrality that will be effective against a Putin-like authoritarian supported by sophisticated propaganda and the levers of the state. Before this is over, scientists are going to be arrested, lose jobs, and may even be killed (either by rogue enthusiasts for Trump, as with the Quebec shooter, or by the state itself). Scientists are going to have to fight alongside the rest of us, and take the slings and arrows of malicious accusations surrounding the so-called “politicization of science.” It comes with the territory of our growing crisis. The alternative is silence. Stop pretending neutrality is possible in this environment. Of course scientists will be on the side of the Anglo-French Enlightenment vision of humanity, the First Amendment, and reason. Of course.
And there’s a psychological passivity at work in adopting a neutral position that does Trump’s bidding, and perhaps serves an unconscious wish for Trump to prevail. It’s the same attitude that some (most?) in the military are taking at the moment. It’s how we ended up, after WWII, with the Nuremberg defense (“I was just obeying orders”). At some point people who pride themselves on being neutral professionals will have to join the rest of us in the streets–or see a dwindling resistance movement culturally isolated and ultimately mown down in the streets. We will hang together, or hang separately.