History teaches us that when science is twisted in order to serve political demagogy, the results are never pretty: In the Stalinist era, Trofim Lysenko’s deranged agricultural ideas condemned millions into famine. Nazi Germans eschewed ‘Jew science’ like Einstein’s theory of Relativity, and favored pseudoscientific myths like the Hollow Earth and the Eternal Ice theory. And in Cuba, Fidel Castro’s project to create a breed of super-cows yielded just one viable specimen, which spent the rest of its days lauded as a matter of national pride, and even ended up in a postage stamp –take that, Clarabelle!
During the Trump administration, which is (finally!) coming to an end, the 45th President of the United States constantly belittled scientific opinion with regards to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast consensus among the scientific community is that his presidency was openly hostile towards science. In fact, there probably hasn’t been a more evident anti-science mentality coming from the White House in recent years, since Nancy Reagan was consulting an astrologer.
President elect Joe Biden’s campaign was run mainly on one coalescing principle: that he is not like Donald Trump: Whereas Trump seeks to polarize and insult, Biden promises to unite and be civil; after Trump cooed America’s enemies and mocked their old allies, Biden proposed to re-establish strategic alliances and reinforce NATO; when Trump yells “Law & Order” Biden says “Black Lives Matter;” and while Donnie dismissed the warnings of scientists telling him the world’s on fire and the pandemic is out of control, uncle Joe keeps assuring to the American people he will put science first over politics.
So… where does that leave UFOs?
The unveiling of Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy of Arts ‘and Science’ (more on that later) and the New York Times article which uncovered the existence of the Pentagon’s UFO program, all took place within the first year of the Trump administration. The three videos promoted by TTSA, and the testimony of former US Navy personnel corroborating the encounters of anomalous objects during military exercises, did cause a wind change in the public opinion, and gave some an excuse to talk about UFOs more openly, without the fear of the ridicule factor which has accompanied the phenomenon for decades. As a result, a few members of the US Congress and the Senate went on the record showing interest in the subject; but from Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris there was nothing but crickets, and never was the topic mentioned even once during the televised presidential and vice-presidential debates.
On the other hand, Donald Trump did talk about the subject a couple of times –although his answers when asked about UFOs indicated he was not particularly interested in them. Still, if there’s one thing the former star of The Apprentice has ever been good at, is exploiting things he doesn’t believe in for his personal benefit: The ‘beautiful wall’ between the US-Mexico border morphed from a silly campaign slogan to a priority of his administration and a matter of personal pride (just like Castro’s super cow); and a three-times divorced adulterer who bragged about grabbing women by their genitals, was nevertheless able to convince fundamentalist Christians he was their god-sent savior by giving them what they wanted –a conservative-leaning Supreme Court and support for Zionism at the expense of stability in the Middle East (Rapture Ahoy!). If voters wanted Donnie to woo them with woo woo, he was more than willing to comply:
Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News became the go-to spot where TTSA spokespersons and other UFO luminaries could share their two cents with regards to the latest Disclosure developments; the same Tucker Carlson who denies Climate Change, promotes open war with Mexico and even makes fun of the future First Lady’s academic degrees. When questioned by people like yours truly on why they agreed appearing on a TV show run by such an egregious bigot, the TTSA people tried to justify themselves by saying they had an equal-opportunity policy when it came to mainstream media, and were trying to get their message across as broadly as they could:
But the truth of the matter is that, as anyone barely paying attention to what was going on in American politics could tell you, if you wanted to try and influence Trump’s opinion, the best way to do it was booming it through Rupert Mudoch’s loudspeaker –at least until November.
Sorry, Chris, but you know fully well what you were doing.
If Joe Biden remains true to his vow of turning the tide, show the world that ‘things are back to normal’ at the White House, and focuses on fixing the mess left by his predecessor, then I suspect there is a high chance he will try to stay clear of anything that bears the whiff of the past administration –including UFOs.
Traditional mainstream media have managed to endure throughout the years by knowing where the wind blows, and big ‘S’ skeptics –who were too busy fighting against State-sponsored disinformation and anti-science propaganda– will now find themselves free once again to aim their barbs at their traditional nemesis; already they’re getting back to their old antics, like this Salon op-ed written in response to the hoopla generated by a former Israeli official, who seems to believe any crazy UFO story he read on the Internet.
It would not surprise me if next time some independent journalist, like Leslie Kean or Ralph Blumenthal, try to publish a UFO-based story on the New York Times, the editors of the Grey Lady will say, “sorry but we don’t cover stuff associated with the Trumpian dark ages anymore. Leave that to Tucker and the rest of the right-wing nutjobs.” Why do you think anonymous whistleblowers didn’t resort to a established news platform, and went instead with a brand-new website to disseminate the rumor of more compelling photographic UFO evidence being part of classified reports (just in time for Dr. Jacques Vallee’s appearance on the most popular podcast on the planet, I might add) until the rumors eventually fizzled out… like a balloon?
The UFO is a cyclical phenomenon, and so is the interest it receives from the status quo and mainstream media. Remember how the 50th anniversary of the Roswell crash got to be on the cover of Time magazine? If you are not old enough to remember all the buzz floating around back in those days –when the Governor of New Mexico had requested the Government Accountability Office to investigate the matter, and even the President of the United States was genuinely interested in finding out the truth about the most popular UFO story in the world– then I can understand why you felt this time it was going to be different.
“Wait a minute!” someone might object, “but what about all the things accomplished by DeLonge, Elizondo and To the Stars??” Well, if you analyze those accomplishments objectively, you might get to realize they are less numerous and impressive than what they loved to claim on social media: there’s the NYT article of December 2017, the (unauthorized) leak of the GoFast and the Gimbal videos –FLIR-1 does not count because that one had already been anonymously leaked to the Internet years before—and the testimony of Commander Fravor, Kevin Day and other Navy men which helped to substantiate the less-than-compelling graphic evidence; radar data and other material from the USS Nimitz and the USS Theodore Roosevelt encounters has yet to surface, and given the way the reformed Navy guidelines created to deal with UFO reports –for which TTSA also took credit—would forbid enlisted personnel to divulge such information to the public, the possibility of future whistleblowers coming forward is unlikely; at least until they reach the age of retirement…
The other feather in TTSA’s cap is Senator Rubio’s push to include an initiative to assemble a ‘UAP task force’ –or bringing it out of the shadows of Naval Intelligence, according to the NYT article of July 23, 2020—with the instruction to make *some* of their findings available to the public. The UAPTF legislation (and what does a ‘task force’ even mean?)
was included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021, which Congress joined (all too conveniently) in the COVID-19 relief package intended to alleviate the economic hardships of American families after nine months of the pandemic. [Correction: Please see not at the end of this essay]
They say there are no coincidences in politics, so it at least strikes me as peculiar that on the same day Congress finally passed the relief package —currently in limbo due to one last Trumpian tantrum— word got out that Lue Elizondo, Chris Mellon and Steve Justice are leaving TTSA –described as an ‘entertainment company’ instead of an ‘academy of sciences’ by Elizondo himself in his latest public interview with George Knapp (so what about their ADAM project and their supposed agreement with the Army to study ‘metamaterials’?)—in search of greener pastures.
So… no coming 3rd season of Unidentified, I take it.
Critics to this op-ed will argue that I’m being as unfair about TTSA’s accomplishments, as the people whose expectations on them were so high, they truly believed Tom and the gang would single-handedly change the paradigm around unidentified flying objects –and give us a couple of cool man-made saucers as an extra-bonus. In response to the dozens of disappointed followers who are trying to make sense of this sudden departure, Elizondo claims that their mission “was never to increase awareness only in the U.S.”
But if one takes a couple of steps back from the messy scene unfolding in the United States during the last three years, one can find extraordinarily little in the semblance of a ripple effect caused by the AATIP revelations. Yes, Japan is thinking about emulating the American military guidelines to report UAP –in an age of modern warfare like advanced drones and hypersonic weapons, that’s a sensible thing to do. And what else? When did To the Stars ever attempt to organize symposia or conferences to invite scientists and academicians, and convince them to consider the UFO phenomenon as a mystery worthy of serious study? (And No, their trip to meet with an Italian UFO group doesn’t count because that’s preaching to the choir)
What did the ‘A’ stand for in their acronym, again?
The “UFOs are a threat” bingo card can only take you so far, especially when the world is dealing with more pressing threats right now. The Biden presidency will already deal with enough uncertainties –will the vaccination campaign succeed? Will the global economy recover in time to stop a catastrophic effect beyond the point of no return? Will QAnon finally turn into a domestic terrorist group? Do we still have enough time to ameliorate the effects of climate change? — so asking them to deal with the mother of all uncertainties –what are UFOs and what does their intermittent presence represent? – may be too much to ask.
…And yet, acting as if UFOs simply do not exist, again, would also be twisting the truth.
CORRECTION: On a Tweet following the publishing of this essay, D. Dean Johnson made the following observation regarding the inclusion of the UAPTF in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021:
Please note, the SSCI directive on UAPTF, etc., is NOT now tied to the NDAA (which was vetoed today), but rather to the “omni” bill (H.R. 133), which includes covid relief, the Intelligence Authorization Act, and many other things. H.R. 133 passed but not yet sent to President.
Many thanks for clarifying this point.