Sunday, May 27, 2007

Assault on reason

I just read a fantastic excerpt from Al Gore’s new book, Assault on Reason. It was published in the Globe and Mail. First of all, I must admit I was a tad dumbfounded by his opening statement in which he seemingly states that Christopher Columbus was American. I don’t think you can be considered the discoverer of a nation in which you were born, making this statement itself an Assault on Reason. For the record, although his exact place of birth is debatable, Christopher Columbus was Italian, AKA Cristoforo Colombo. While we are on the topic, John Cabot is not Canadian, nor he is Jean Cabot, a Frenchman. He is Giovanni Caboto, an Italian. And since we are discussing men whose reputations have been sullied by times passing, let us not forget the namesake of the American continent. Ever wonder why North, South, and Central America were not called Columbia, or Columbus? Mostly because when they were named, Columbus was already dead. Not only can dead men tell no tales, they cannot protest indignation neither. No, the name America comes from the Latin form of the name Amerigo, the first name of explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci, a man instrumental in exploring this great continent. Caveat: much of the above is only accepted theory, not proven fact. But I digress.

Anywho, what I meant to say was how impressed I was by the intellectual clarity and cognitive maturity demonstrated by Gore’s writing. My gosh, if this man had been president in 2001, we would not be in the undesirable situation in which we currently find ourselves. Let us compare quotes from the 2 candidates in the 2000 presidential election.

Gore (from his book): If you look at…almost every conflict zone in the world-you will find an element of amygdala politics based on vicarious traumatization, feeding off memories of past tragedies.

Bush: “Because of your work, children who once wanted to die are now preparing to live.”—speaking at the White House summit on malaria, Dec. 14, 2006. (Source)

Gore: (From his book) Terrorism relies on the stimulation of fear for political ends. Indeed, its specific goal is to distort the political reality of a nation by creating fear in the general population that is hugely disproportionate to the actual danger that the terrorists are capable of posing.

Bush: Rarely is the questioned asked:Is our children learning? [sic] (Source)

Most importantly, I now have another book to add to my ever-expanding Amazon wishlist. If you need a suggestion for yours, check out What Might Have Been, a counterfactual telling of 12 historical what-ifs. My favorite chapter is the one in which Al Gore wins the 2000 election, which he would have if the American presidential electoral system made any sense. Mr. Gore is taking a very reasoned and calm approach to the attacks of 9/11, an approach that results in none of the ensuing chaos characterized by the Bush era. The best part though is when Mr. Gore and his advisers are sitting around after a meeting, thinking to themselves, “Can you imagine if that idiot Bush would have won? He would have made a complete mess of this.” How true.

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