In the 1960s, while attending college and law school, I heard the phrase, “Don’t let your education interface with your learning.”
It took me years to grasp this concept, eventually realizing that the most crucial factor in our formal education is to acquire the ability to discern truth and think and critically analyze.
Memorizing dates and events in history or of Mathematical formula may obtain students solid grades in kindergarten through 12th grade, and even in some Colleges, but teaching and learning critical thinking is much more challenging.
In my 19 years of formal education in this state, I was taught of the heroic early white European Explorers and Settlers. There was no mention of the real purpose of these Emissaries of royal rulers of the 1400s to 1800s – the exploitation of newly “discovered” lands for financial gain. This enabled the horrific Destruction of indigenous populations, literally the Holocaust perpetrated against the natives of North America.
I neither heard of the native People’s enslavement, seizure of their lands, or the denial of their human rights. Nor did I hear of the Nazi Holocaust, even though the death camps were liberated only five years before I started first grade here in Annapolis. My studies were also devoid of any environmental issues. I still ponder why such Truths were deliberately excluded.
With the Incredible advancement in internet technology, the exposure to educational resources and hence knowledge is almost unlimited. Yet we are wallowing in an inability to discern the truth as we are bombarded with lies and distorted half-truths.
Making matters much worse is the repeated lying by former President Donald Trump, whose sinister “Stop The Steal” messaging is infecting and crumbling the walls of our democracy. Trump’s refusal to accept the legitimate results of a free and fair election and his call to block the results led to the Jan. 6, 2021 desecration of the Capitol. This stain on our democracy led to five deaths and injuries to 140 law enforcement officers.
About 865 people have been arrested and charged with crimes, with 300 found guilty so far, most of whom pleaded guilty. Trump has called these rioters “peaceful people” and “Patriots” and mentioned “The love in the air – I’ve never seen anything like it.” Just last week, he stated he would consider pardons for rioters who have been treated “very unfairly” should he be re-elected in 2024.
The ex-president’s contention that they won the 2020 election because of widespread election fraud in key states is the centerpiece of his post-White House political life. This assertion has been exposed as an outright lie with no evidentiary basis. At least 86 Judges, some appointed by Trump, have rejected post-election lawsuits Filed by Trump and his supporters. His attorney general and most of his closest legal advisers all told him there is no factual basis for his claims.
Yet recent polls show a majority of Republicans believe Trump won the election as do 25% of all Americans. Does the truth really matter? The Washington Post Fact Checker team found that Trump had accumulated 30,573 untruths during his presidency.
How can we solve critically important environmental problems like global warming when a president falsely called climate change a “hoax” invented by China, incorrectly Suggested that wind turbines cause cancer, and dismissed all the thousands of top Scientists’ evidence including a Landmark scientific report produced by the federal government’s own Scientists. Trump’s administration rolled back critical common-sense climate regulations after Trump embarrassingly withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Accord.
Now there are 139 elected members of the Congress who refuse to acknowledge the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change, including 30 Senators. These officials have received $ 61 million in contributions from the coal, oil, and gas industries.
With the Outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, Trump declared at least 38 times that COVID-19 is currently disappearing or going to disappear shortly. In February 2020, he declared, “You know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat – as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. ”
He repeatedly disregarded the top administration of Scientists. He Accused Democrats of “politicizing” the deadly coronavirus, claiming that the Outbreak is “their new hoax” as they continued to downplay the risk in the US More than one million Americans have died from COVID, 36% more deaths than in any other Nation . This denial of the truth about the seriousness of COVID-19 by the president is unforgivable.
The failure to grasp the truth and to act on it infects environmental progress as a stasis has set in after 38 years of formal efforts to Restore the Chesapeake Bay under the federal and state Chesapeake Bay Program. The cops on the beat are looking the other way as the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies fail to meet and enforce pollution limits imposed on the states under the Clean Water Act.
Too many politicians, conservation groups, and even some Scientists are touting the success of bay restoration. In his second Inaugural address, Gov. Larry Hogan claimed, “We practiced skilled stewardship of the environment, which resulted in a Chesapeake Bay that is cleaner than it has been in recorded history.”
Hogan’s predecessor, Martin O’Malley, proclaimed his web site while running for president that he had “restored the Chesapeake Bay.” The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s former president proudly proclaimed, “Success has never been closer.”
None of these statements are true.
This happy talk is related to money and power and leaves out crucial evidence such as collapsing fisheries with blue crab numbers reaching historic Lows, oysters at 1.5% of historic levels, rockfish in severe decline, the Shad fishery closed for 40 years without a hint of recovery, soft clam populations collapsed, and critical bay grasses at 62,169 Acres, the lowest in eight years and only 34% of the 185,000 acre goal to be met by 2010.
The bay is dying a death of a thousand cuts as folks who come in contact with bay waters are experiencing life threatening flesh-eating diseases.
We hear the secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources Minimizing declines in crabs and fish populations, bragging how well the state is doing in managing these resources and blaming declines on weather or natural variability. Scientists once advocated for a closure of wild Oyster harvests, Publishing research indicating Oyster populations increase of 16-fold instead of a 92% decline. Facing pressure, they have now renounced the need for a moratorium.
Other bay Scientists who grade bay health each year, have rigged the ratings to include non-restoration factors such as social and economic progress to ramp up the grade and please their political masters.
In 2019, the Maryland Legislature increased requirements dictating that 50% of the state’s electricity sales will be generated from renewable sources by 2030, but only 6% comes from solar and wind energy now. The legislation allows dams to count as renewable that were in operation 100 years ago; that’s 40% of the 11% of renewables now in use and more than either solar or wind power. Legislators and environmental groups tout the enactment of a 50% requirement when so little new and true renewables have come online.
Truth is a hard master, and costly to serve, but it simplifies all problems. Does the truth matter anymore?
Gerald Winegrad represented the greater Annapolis area in the General Assembly for 16 years. Contact him at [email protected].