Following the National Review's "Grrrr, Neil deGrasse Tyson is THE WORST!" cover story (it's behind a pay wall, but the subhead that frets about "America’s nerd problem" sums up the tone nicely), the Los Angeles Times' has an editorial by Matthew Fleischer that asks "Why Are Conservatives Afraid of Neil deGrasse Tyson?" It's a pretty solid read, though it mostly comes down the not-so-surprising theory that, well, all entrenched politicians aren't too fond of a populace that educates itself and asks a bunch of questions.
One part in the piece that particularly piqued my interest—and made me instantly think of Portland—was this:
In a world where advanced technology has infiltrated nearly every corner of our lives—raising a litany of technical, ethical and legal challenges—our government is willfully scientifically illiterate.
The reason this status quo has been allowed to persist is that the general population isn’t much better. Conservatives continue to fight any attempts to combat climate change, while many liberals are refusing to vaccinate their children over fears of a nonexistent link to autism. It wouldn’t be hard to predict a liberal backlash against Tyson, similar to the one we’re seeing from conservatives, if he were to speak more prominently about his endorsement of genetically modified foods—one of the more scientifically unfounded banner arguments of the left. (Via.)
Given Tyson's great, brief remarks on GMOs (and his excellent, more nuanced follow-up comments, posted here and here), the threat of a "liberal backlash against Tyson" is (A) super depressing, and (B) dead on. If we assume the GMO debate will continue to escalate, and if we take into account how a significant portion of Portlanders feel about fluoride, it'd be the least surprising thing ever if Neil deGrasse Tyson become Portland public enemy number one.
(Shout out to the scrappy anti-GMO signature gatherer who valiantly attempted to get Alison and I to sign his clipboard—first by arguing with us, then by shouting after us. "But—but even if you're pro-GMO, labeling is great!" he cried. "That way you can eat more of them!")