The Problem When Leaders Don’t Communicate
What many leaders in open societies like ours don’t grasp, is that when they don’t speak directly to the people about controversial stories, the people make up the details. This is becoming the problem with the latest round of real-life video games pitting the United States Air Force against unidentified flying objects over North America (see Ross Douthat’s column from The New York Times on February 16).
In the first case, we have been told that the Chinese lofted a spy balloon over the country and gathered information from it over about eight days as it moved from west to east from off the coast of Alaska, over Montana, Kansas, and South Carolina after which it was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean. It appears that most of the parts have been recovered and that’s about all we know. Are we in danger from these things? Is national security threatened? Tell us. According to some senators, 95% of what they heard so far in briefings can be declassified.
Since then, at least three other objects have been blasted out of the sky at lower altitudes than the balloon. The reason these were shot down so much more quickly than the Chinese balloon has been given as them posing a threat to commercial air traffic at their lesser heights.
So, here’s what the American people need to know and what they have not been told.
First, how much of a threat was the Chinese balloon? Was it being steered over sensitive national security sites? Was any American technology used in the balloon’s operation? Curious minds want to know.
Second, what were the other objects anyway? Who put them up in the sky? What was their function? Biden now says they were not Chinese. Were they Martian?
Third, is there any truth to the Chinese claim that we too have put spy balloons over their country?
What President Biden does not seem to grasp is that most of the country does not support him and many of us don’t believe him. He knew damned well when he gave the State of the Union message that the Republicans had withdrawn from their position (expressed by the slightly off kilter Senator Rick Scott) that they wanted to reduce the level of support for Medicare and Social Security. Kevin McCarthy told the President that earlier on the day of the speech. Biden was disingenuous when he brought it up and the Republicans were foolish in rising to his baiting.
We don’t know why President Trump had those classified documents at Mar A Lago and we don’t know why Mr. Biden had some in Delaware or Vice President Pence had more in Indiana. What’s wrong with these guys? Doesn’t that kind of disqualify them for public office? They were at least careless and probably stupid, too.
Douthat lists more as yet mysterious issues that have been in the news in the last few years and have yet to be explained.
Who blew up the Nord Stream pipelines?
What were the secrets of Jeffrey Epstein?
What is the true origin of the coronavirus that caused the pandemic?
What really happened between Bret Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford?
We are ignorant on all of these things.
Closer to home, the leadership of the State of Texas wants to eliminate academic tenure in an attempt to control what university faculty teach. It’s just as bad to fire someone for teaching critical race theory (this is only at the college level or higher) as it is to try to tell instructors what ought to be in the curriculum. That’s their job. Should instructors include all viewpoints on controversial issues like race? Of course. Should the Lieutenant Governor stay out of this? Also, yes.
Everyone seems to be wanting people to think like them, when it is the diversity of opinions (not the diversity of the work force) that really matters. It may well be that you can’t have the diversity of opinion without the diversity of the work force. If that’s the reason for diversity in hiring say so. It cannot be seen as the righting of some historical wrong.
On all stages where learning is to take place and information is to be conveyed, accurate and clear articulation of facts is essential. Without that, the recipients of the disinformation will make up their own stories.
Maybe those other three objects shot down were real Martian space ships and we attacked extraterrestrial air craft. Until someone tells us what really happened, my story is as good as yours about these aircraft and all the rest on the list above.