In its July issue, pseudo-intellectual political magazine and occasional home of white supremacist commentators considered acceptable enough for polite society the National Review published a bizarre article focusing on Neil deGrasse Tyson. While the original article requires an account, there is a free version available. The article set off a firestorm of criticism, getting noticed even by major media outlets like the BBC and the LA Times.
The gist of the article – to the extent it exists at all in such a poorly thought out article – seems to be that getting the general public interested and informed in matters such as science and technology is a liberal plot to increase the power of the government. Given that this is the National Review, any kind of expansion of the government necessarily leads to tyranny. So, Cosmos is preparing us for the coming liberal progressive communo-islamo-fascist dictatorship. The seriously dated phrase “fellow traveler” makes an appearance, suggesting that the author never got over the paranoia and xenophobia of the McCarthy era. Given the amount of vitriol the author reserves for self-styled “nerds” who don’t have the proper nerd credentials (Star Trek and WoW but not Star Wars and Mario Kart), one gets the sense that maybe the author just can’t stand that some of these “nerds” are now more popular than him.
The author also complains about more liberal-leaning pundits trusting the opinions of scientists on scientific matters without truly understanding the material. This kind of criticism could be warranted in some cases, but fails as a generalized criticism because there’s simply no way for anyone to be properly informed on everything. At some point, people have to trust experts.
As the LA Times points out, this whole article is strange, particularly the focus on Tyson, whose public persona is largely apolitical. He tends to talk mainly about science and related topics, not electoral politics. This kind of article is likely to be damaging to the NR’s political project. It just makes them and their supporters look like anti-intellectuals who rather keep people uninformed if giving them information might lead them to the wrong political opinions. Apparently, the NR may have more in common with Communism (of the Cultural Revolution/Khmer Rouge type) than they realize.