Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
Relativism and Donald J. Trump
Trump stepped in it this week when he questioned the official death toll for the disaster that befell Puerto Rico last year, in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Nearly three thousand Americans died during and in the aftermath of that storm, most of the deaths occurred after the storm, in the midst of the ridiculously inept response by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). The power grid failed, and the lack of electricity led to deaths, especially from the elderly, due to heat exposure and dehydration, for lack of potable drinking water.
It was a mess, and while it is true that the government of Puerto Rico bears some responsibility for its lack of preparedness, the federal response was an absolute failure.
The numbers for the official death toll in Puerto Rico last year were only recently reported. The late reporting does not lead to inaccurate results, in fact the type of study that produced these numbers provides the most accurate results.
An exhaustive survey was conducted, hospital records were examined, the records from local law enforcement and emergency medicine providers was sifted through, families were interviewed, death certificates were produced. When all of that work was done the data gets processed by a set of statistical mechanics,
In the end they determine how people died in the aftermath of the storm and how many would have died in a normal year, and while this is a gross simplification of the statistical analysis, the difference between the two numbers speaks to the actual death toll of the hurricane, people who died who otherwise would not have died.
This is a valid analysis, but the relativism of Donald Trump, which is not unique to him or to his wing of the republican party, it is proof against this kind of information, and any arguments based on such data sets.
Let us not forget that the right wing, denies that human beings are changing the climate of planet earth, many of them believe that the earth id flat, that we never went to the moon, and that the universe is only a little more than six thousand years old, whil at the same time believing that human beings once walked with the dinosaurs.
This insidious relativism does not just infect the T-Rump and his minions.
The same type of statistical analysis was used to arrive at the real death toll of the Second Gulf war. The American Media and many political pundits on both the right and the left are scoffing at T-Rump now, but they did not cover the story of the real body count from the Second Gulf War, they gave it no play at all, they buried the story. Politicians on the left and the right, many of whom are still in office, they buried it. They refused to hold the Bush administration accountable.
They did this because the data, compiled by John’s Hopkins University, with statistical analysis conducted by MIT, and with the report published in the LANCET (The British Journal of Medicine), was devastating to the cause of the United States in that conflict. That report estimated that as many as 800,000 people died as a result of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Iraq ministry of Health, controlled at the time by the Interim U.S. Government, put the number at about 88,000, which is still a devastating number but only one tenth of the actual.
T-Rump is not the first person to retreat into relativism when he dies not like the story, most of the pundits who are crying foul this week, are guilty of the same thing, right and left.
While T-Rump is a particularly easy mark to fault for this, because he lies almost incessantly, his lack of a commitment to veracity, and the unconcerned response to it by his followers is not unique to the right wing. In fact, the historical beginning of their relativistic view of the world begin with the intellectual left, and are a product of many notable philosopher such as, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida.
We get what we play for, and in T-Rump we can see that the chicken has come home to roost.