Conservatives Go Full-Racist On Neil deGrasse Tyson After He’s Accused Of Misquoting Bush

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Image via Patheos.com

It’s been widely-noted that conservatives — from Fox News to the National Review — have a seething hatred of popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. At first blush, it’s hard to understand why he is the recipient of so much ire. He’s articulate, likeable, and passionate about teaching science. What’s not to love?

Many have speculated that this is merely a consequence of Tyson’s status as perhaps the most well-known, beloved scientist of the day and that the anger exposes a virulent anti-intellectual streak emanating from the right. Amanda Marcotte at Alternet concluded as much in a story she wrote over the summer accusing the right of having an “anti-intellectual paranoia.”

But while that is certainly a part of the story, it doesn’t address one of Tyson’s other characteristic which some may have a problem with. He also happens to be black.

This past week, Sean Davis, writing for The Federalist, ran a series of increasingly nitpicky articles accusing Tyson of misquoting or misstating some of the quotes or anecdotes he uses in his popular lectures. Some of the criticisms were valid, like one in which Tyson wrongfully attributed a quote to George W. Bush, but most were simply of the “Well, technically…” variety. For a man who conducts hundreds of interviews and lectures a year, expecting him to not make one or two mistakes when speaking — oftentimes extemporaneously — is pretty harsh.

Despite the inanity of the accusations, conservative pundits and readers flocked to the allegations, basking in the chance to take Tyson down a few pegs. They didn’t mind blowing it out of proportion, either.

That will teach him for hosting Cosmos and speaking out against man-made climate change!

According to the article, Tyson has a slide that has two quotes that he uses to make a point about the general lack of scientific literacy in American society.

Tyson attributes one to a “newspaper headline”:

Half the schools in the district are below average.

In another, he says a politician once said:

I have changed my views 360 degrees on that issue.

Then the audience typically laughs, because as the late, great George Carlin once said, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” Then further realize the dumbest are on, say, the House Committee for Science, Space and Technology. The point is, American society needs help. We are clueless and let’s get science back into the mainstream.

But Sean Davis wasn’t laughing. He spent time running down those quotes and after a few days a-googlin’, he couldn’t find where the exact quotes came from. He found similar quotes or stories, but not the exact quotes, and so he wrote a massive article accusing Tyson of being a fraud and questioning his reputation as a scientist. Then he wrote several more that essentially rehashed the same complaints.

I’m pretty confident in asserting that they were both fabricated. It seems rather obvious to me that Tyson is attempting to make the old joke that Garrison Keillor made about the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” Except Tyson wanted to get credit for the joke instead of giving the credit where it’s due. There’s a word to describe people who steal jokes and make up quotes to suit their ideological agendas, but I don’t believe that word is “scientist.” And seriously, how monumentally lazy do you have to be to make up a quote to prove that politicians are dumb?

The article goes on in a similar vein for another thousand words or so.

He also tried to argue that Tyson didn’t know how statistics work because technically half the schools in a district can be below average if the “average” refers to a larger data set (say, the nation as a whole). While most of us would have simply chuckled at the quote and moved on, whatever portion of Davis’ heart that once recognized humor died long ago and was replaced by a sneering bitterness that resents the fact that this doctorate-level astrophysicist thought he was smarter than a conservative blogger whose other articles include such intellectual barn burners as “What LeBron James’ Return To Cleveland Says About The 2016 Election” and “6 Stupid Arguments About Hobby Lobby From Dumb Liberals.”

For Davis, it was offensive that when he searched Tyson’s name on Google, he got:

NDGT-SmartAnd when you search “Sean Davis,” absolutely nothing comes up:

Screenshot_1No fair.

But if a conservative blogger felt slighted by Tyson’s success, imagine how much hatred people who comment on said conservative blogger’s site felt. In short order, a pretty disturbing pattern emerged. The following are actual comments taken from The Federalist, Twitchy, Front Page Magazine, and PJ Media. Some of the comments have been deleted. Many remain.

Many felt that Tyson – author, PhD-holder, head of the Hayden Planetarium – was a product of Affirmative Action and didn’t deserve his fame because he was black.

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It’s amazing that not only does “Clarence Worley” find it acceptable to write something like that, but that 38 people “upvoted” it in approval.

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Catino, expert on “American black folklore,” believes not only did Tyson get where he was because he was black, but he also took credit for Algebra and Jesus Christ, too.

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Another clarifies for Catino that black people used to be successful, but then liberals ruined everything.

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Foggybottom can’t decide if liberals love Tyson because he’s black, hates George Bush, or because he “acts white.”

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This guy just wants black people to stop being in his line-of-sight, okay? Nothing racist about that. He just wishes Tyson would give the other astrophysicists a turn in front of the camera.

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Ah, yes, the “Harry Reid” defense.

745468And right on time, there is the one commenter who claims to have never heard of the guy, despite him being world-renowned and the subject of frequent interviews and articles (including the one this man is currently reading).

Screenshot_1And finally, we come full-circle — straight from racism directed at Tyson to racism directed at Obama.

523432432Way to stick the landing, folks.

But by all means continue to insist that this is about concern over how accurate the anecdote in a PowerPoint slide is, conservatives.