Facts matter

Dear President Trump,

If sending these letters to you were contingent on anything, today would be a skip day for me. I’m just wrung out and so thoroughly disgusted with you and your administration I’d really rather spit nails at you then write you. But this letter writing practice is not contingent on anything, not on my mood, not on the weather, not on AG Session’s degree of despicableness, not on your levels of idiocy or odiousness. It is just something I set out to do every day for the duration 485 days ago and I have no intention of stopping now.

So, I’ll tell you about how I started crying today on the way home when I heard a clip from the President of Harvard’s commencement address. I looked up Dr. Faust’s speech when I got home and here is a quote of the clip aired by NPR; “We must be a place where facts matter, where reasoned and respectful discourse and debate serve as arbiters of truth.” I just lost it. I’ve not felt all that great today so it’s not that surprising I got emotional, but it was unnerving to be moved to tears by such a simple statement about the importance of facts and truth. It is crazy that we are in this place where presidents of major universities need to defend the idea that facts and truth matter.

The NPR announcer who was interviewing Dr. Faust asked her about her statement and whether she was talking just about Harvard or referencing the country. She deftly responded that she was talking about Harvard and the world. A little later in her speech she said “We must be dedicated to the belief that truth cannot be simply asserted or claimed, but must be established with evidence and tested with argument.” In other words, we should not make shit up and call it “alternative facts” and if we do, we should not get away with it.

Stepping back from my emotionality, I think there is a thin, thin shred of silver lining that we can add to the other thin shreds of silver linings we are patching together from your presidency. As we articulate how we can collectively arrive at more accurate and nuanced truths, it seems to me we are also re-energizing efforts to see past and through the brick wall of history as told by wealthy white men. And we are making headway.

May we aspire to discerning facts and truth, even when it’s not safe.
May we be happy to call out people who make end runs around the truth.
May we keep discourse about facts and truth vibrant and healthy.
May you not be snookered by lying, murderous fascists and your own vanity.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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