Bipartisan ignorance

By Ken Midkiff

COLUMBIA, Mo 11/6/15 (Op Ed) --  To many folks on all sides of the political aisle, facts don't matter.

BELIEFS do.  Consider:

Illegal immigrants, according to FBI crime statistics, are responsible for FEWER crimes than the general populace.   (One reason: most illegals don't want to stand out).   But to true believers of the Trumpian sort, illegal immigrants are drug dealers, rapists, and murderers.

Despite Mr. Trump's contrary campaign claims, no evidence exists that illegal immigrants are gang members responsible for violence in Ferguson, Missouri.   In fact, there are few, if any, illegal immigrants in the town.

Same thing with “anchor babies”.   While some Presidential candidates claim illegal immigrants enter the country and have babies to “anchor” future citizenship, the practice rarely occurs, and is even considered a myth.

Climatologists have clearly demonstrated global climate change is occurring with mountains of data. But never mind those melting glaciers, spongy tundra, and warming planetary temperatures.  Deniers and skeptics believe the one or two climatologists who claim otherwise (with scant information):   that the climate is just going through its normal cycle.

Fewer incidents of violence have been perpetrated against police officers in the last year than any year in the previous decade.   Crimes against police are declining, not increasing.   A 2015 study in the journal Violence and Gender, for instance, found 43 police officers killed in the line of duty in 2014; 31 on-duty cops deliberately killed in 2013; 121 in 2012; and 72 in 2011.  

But in spite of this statistical fact, many believe otherwise.

Believers deny the scientific fact of evolution, despite the fossil record and all the scientific studies.   For them, the Creation Museum in Kentucky is dedicated, next door to Tennessee, where the famous “Scopes Trial” launched an early American battle on the evolutionary “beliefs vs. facts” front.

Both major political parties have made much about “black on black” murders.   But “white on white” homicide happens at only a slightly lesser rate.    The reason:  murder usually occurs between acquaintances, friends, or relatives.   Color doesn't matter.

Left-leaning types are not immune to factual ignorance, either.    For instance, there is not more criminal activity today by police officers, as many liberal and Democractic politicians have been touting.

There are just more cellphones with video that capture sordid events.

There have long been police who act as prosecutor, judge and executioner;  but now, it's all on YouTube.   Look at the history of police action over the last 40 years, in just about any major city:  New Orleans after Katrina in 2005.    Los Angeles and Rodney King in 1991.   New York City, home of “stop and frisk”.   The 1968 Democratic National Convention riot in Chicago. 

Planned Parenthood, finally, does not sell fetus parts, but was a victim of poorly-edited video by an anti-abortion group.  Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina was convinced, and in her pro-life zeal, tried to take in others, too.

She succeeded with the Believers, despite considerable doubt the videotape she claims to have seen even exists.

So forget all the talk about Democrats vs. Republicans; liberals vs, conservatives vs. Libertarians.  Trump v. Carson.  Hillary against Bernie.  Bush 2016 v. Bush 2000. 

The real battle for the American mind is Belief v. Fact.   The Believers against the Facters.   So far this Presidential campaign season, the Believers are winning big.