Giving science a greater platform can never not be a good thing, but the author here displays a curious reticence at situating Neil deGrasse Tyson contextually, and at providing a fuller picture of what he achieves, and what he’s up against.
He and others like him (Lawrence Krauss and Bill Nye, to name but two) are
an educating vanguard, in the face of a country that seems in thrall to the Bronze Age beliefs of its retrograde bigots and demagogues – a de facto Christian theocracy, in which the wool of superstition is kept securely in place over people’s eyes, and where the young are indoctrinated into the same fear-based death cult myths at the first opportunity, because heaven forfend they actually grow up to use their innate critical faculties. Remember, this is still a country in which large swathes of the population see science and reason as threats, and where ‘atheist’ is seen as a slur, alongside ‘Muslim’, ‘liberal’, and ‘homosexual’ – typical in-group rhetoric of the religious right.
Neil deGrasse Tyson and his colleagues are not just celebrities of a scientific bent (or vice versa). They are our secular magi, and they operate in a country that, in some respects, is still in the Dark Ages.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca