Homo prevaricatus

Sam Smith – A few years ago, DC mayor Adrian Fenty campaigned in our neighborhood. Speaking with him, I suddenly had this strange sensation that he was actually talking not to me but to a virtual camera and that I was seeing him not in real life but on a screen.

I had felt a human disconnect with politicians many times before but I had never been able to give it such shape. Although Fenty was only a foot away from me, he really wasn’t there at all.

I thought of the incident the other day watching Donald Trump spew some extraordinary nonsense, but this time it seemed as if Trump was not just behind a screen but that he wasn’t even really human. It was not a totally odd feeling because – absent a few notable exceptions like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders – I had long felt that it was becoming ever rarer to find a major politician with whom one could (or want to) have a normal human interchange such as sharing some beer in a bar.

What, I found myself asking after the Trump tirade, if he wasn’t actually a homo sapien? What if politics, media, and propaganda had quietly created a genetic transformation in our most notorious public figures so that we found ourselves in somewhat the same relationship that modern humans had for a while with the Neanderthals. What if Trump, Chris Christie, Paul LePage, the Clintons, Jamie Dimon and the Kardashians were all homo prevaricatus?

Even more disturbing, what if the social, economic and political environment was allowing them to triumph over homo sapiens just as we did of the Neanderthals?

If this seems absurd, consider the fact that Professor Frank J. Fenner, an eminent Australian scientist who helped wipe out smallpox, thinks humans may be extinct within a century. Explains Ian Paxton, “For the past 10,000 years, humans have been changing the face of the earth, never more rapidly than in the two centuries that have elapsed since the Industrial Revolution. The climatic effects of industrialization rival that of any comet impact or ice age in both severity and rapid onset.”

Interestingly, some scientists attribute climate change as a major cause of the downfall of the Neanderthals. And while, if Fenner is right, the homo prevaricatus are doomed as well, there may be a period when the Donald Trumps and Jamie Dimons are safe inside their subterranean mansions and underground executive suites, a time we may be on the verge of experiencing.

Not being a genetic scientist, I can’t accurately describe what internal shifts have caused this new species to arise, but its effects clearly include a loss of empathy, disintegrating factual comprehension, decline in human decency, collapse of integrity, inability to cooperate, loss of linguistic skill and incapacity to share, among other factors.

Which specific genes are involved, I’ll leave for the more qualified to identify, but I confess that, even if we are headed for extinction, I feel much more comfortable sensing that Donald Trump and his kind belong to another species. And far less guilty about my own.

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