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Thursday, August 9, 2007
Voldemort and Global Warming

On the uncanny resemblance of He-Who-Must-not-Be-Named and That-Which-Must-not-Be-Questioned.

My Harry Potter credentials are not stellar. I believe I have experienced all seven novels one way or another, through unabridged audio, movies, and actual reading. I actually read the fifth years ago, the sixth quite recently while my daughter read the seventh, and the seventh when she was finished. I have attended only one late-night release party at Borders (or anywhere else), and it was not the latest one, or even the one before that.

Moreover, someone will probably want to accuse me of exploiting a real tragedy to score political points, even as I try to land a blow against those who are really doing that.

That's enough of an introduction. Now consider a comparison which at once shows the influence of my recent reading and highlights the bizarre nature of contemporary American politics.

In the later Harry Potter novels, Voldemort runs amok. You know Voldemort? The super-evil super-wizard? The Dark Lord? He-Who-Must-not-Be-Named? Terrible things happen, even to the muggles (non-wizards). Bridges collapse, among other dire events.

Meanwhile, back in what passes for reality, the recent fatal collapse of a bridge in Minneapolis is so recent that recovery efforts are ongoing. Yet we are already hearing that the collapse may have been caused by . . . are you ready for this? . . . global warming. Yes, global warming, the twenty-first century religion which posits the following:

  • global temperatures are rising (sensible estimates: at most a few degrees over decades);
  • this is a disaster, not a natural solar cycle;
  • human activity is the principal cause;
  • humans can significantly mitigate the problem;
  • we should sacrifice our liberty and prosperity to reverse the damage; and
  • all honest people accept all this as true, and we cannot permit it to be questioned, even by real scientists.

I will stipulate to the first. The second is highly questionable. The third does not seem to be supported by most of the facts. The fourth falls with the third. The fifth is the very dangerous point of it all, and not the conclusion to which I come. The sixth is offensive -- not to mention being an enormous red flag -- in a relatively free society.

Temperatures have been a bit higher than normal in Minneapolis, we are told. (Global warming! Global warming!) This increased the stress on the structure, causing -- or at least hastening -- its failure. Never mind that the bridge was branded structurally deficient almost two decades ago, just after we spent the 1970s wringing our hands over global cooling. Never mind the sheer unbelievability of suggesting that engineers would have designed a bridge to be structurally compromised if temperatures were a few degrees higher than normal for a while.

So we are now to believe that this tragic bridge collapse was caused not by He-Who-Must-not-Be-Named, an overtly fictional character, but, equally implausibly, by That-Which-Must-not-Be-Questioned.

When do foolishness and half-baked intellectual tyranny become laughable?

When does the laughable become utterly tragic? Perhaps in November 2008, if voters are not careful.

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