It may be the most important and least talked about question of our era.
In the last few years, we’ve seen the U.S. government be more open about encounters that members of its services have had with unidentified flying objects and its efforts to fully investigate such incidents, leading to all kinds of speculation about alien alloys and requests from lawmakers to know more about what exactly is going on. I’ll spare you the armchair psychiatric analysis of why we as a society might long for a species with higher-intelligence to come down and save us, put us out of our misery, or just say hello—but we certainly do long for it. After all, a couple of million people have internet-pledged to raid Area 51 next month, and internet pledges are binding. It stands to reason that if someone credible were to come forward and tell us what the government knows about aliens, that person would be a hero. In the absence of someone credible, the president would suffice. So why doesn’t Donald Trump tell us everything there is to know about the aliens?
Trump has, in fact, talked about the subject a little bit. In June, George Stephanopoulos visited the Oval Office and brought up the subject of Navy pilots seeing strange objects flying through the sky and behaving in erratic patterns. Stephanopoulos asked the president if he’d been briefed on the subject and what his thoughts were. Trump said that he’d had one “very brief” meeting on it and appeared to be wary of contradicting the accounts of soldiers. He said, “we’re gonna see,” which is a stock answer for him when he doesn’t want to answer a question. And he gave his own opinion on the topic, telling the ABC News anchor that “People are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly.”
I find his lack of belief believable. Trump is a deeply incurious man when it comes to subjects that don’t personally involve him. As president of the United States, he has the right to declassify any confidential information he deems fit, and he’s exercised that right in flippant ways that don’t do anyone much good. Nevertheless, he believed it helped him, somehow.
What the government knows or doesn’t know about aliens would be extremely valuable. If put in his shoes, a normal person would ask the question on day 1, just because it’s a cliche that it should be one of the first questions one should ask. Trump isn’t a normal person. But he does love valuable information that can help him politically or financially. In the very same interview with Stephanopoulos in which he discussed UFOs, he also said he’d take information against his political opponents from foreign governments—an act that would be a crime. At the same time, he has a wealth of information available at his disposal from the biggest intelligence gathering apparatus in the world, but he seems to prefer to look for answers from cable television.
Maybe he asked for the alien info, was handed a thick dossier by an intel agent with a short summary on top that told him nothing, and he just blew the whole thing off. But that still doesn’t prevent him from going to a top intel official and saying, “I want to know about the aliens. Yes or no: Do they exist?” It would likely be a crime for that person to give him false information that he’s requested. The answer could simply be, “we don’t know.” Or maybe they gave him an answer one way or another and he simply sees the knowledge as some kind of all-purpose card one keeps in their back pocket that should only be used at the most opportune moment—the exact phrase escapes me at the moment. And even if he has no idea, how has he never just pulled out a big whopping lie about it? It would be so much easier to lie about aliens than, say, lying about being side-by-side with the first responders on 9/11.
Without going into a bunch of hypotheticals about how the info could be used, let’s just stick to political gamesmanship. We’ve established that he could be a hero who finally told us the truth. But telling the truth isn’t his style, and most people wouldn’t believe him anyway. Of course, he could actually go beyond just telling us, declassify the information, and dump it on all of us with the receipts. What does he care? For a man who is obsessed with going down in history as the hero who got us to Mars, being the guy who told us about the aliens would seem tempting.
But revealing information about aliens also carries the motivation of serving as a distraction. I’m not going to say Trump plays 4D chess and is always making calculated decisions to distract the public when he’s in a bind. He does stupid and distracting things naturally (see the weird-ass McDonald’s meal he served to the Clemson Tigers), and he’s often in a bind. But from time-to-time, he does make obvious attempts to distract from an issue at the centre of the American conversation. Just before former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony in front of Congress, he tried out an incoherent tweet that connected Mueller’s lawyer to a “basement server guy” who had something to do with Hillary Clinton. This received zero attention. Aliens would give him a solid week of shifting the news cycle before we got tired of the subject.
This is the point in our blog when the questions about Trump’s alien knowledge start to get dark. Maybe, in all of the mess and all of the controversies, through all of the threats of impeachment or jail time in the last couple of years, he has never thought that what he faced was big enough to pull the alien card. Maybe he knew he was capable of far worse things and much bigger controversies and he’s always held onto the alien thing for when he’ll really need it. Or maybe he’s just saving it up for a week before election day in 2020.
But it keeps nagging at me. Trump would’ve pulled it out already. He’s too much of an impulsive oaf not to have blurted out “Aliens are real, folks” amidst the din of helicopter rotor blades on the White House lawn. He wouldn’t be able to stop himself. He just does things, and many times those things work for him. And all I can determine is that he knows the truth and the truth is indeed too much for us to handle.
Trump certainly wouldn’t avoid spilling the beans for the good of the country. No, the answer, whatever it is, would have to pose a threat to his very existence. Maybe it’s the one piece of information for which even the president could be disappeared for revealing. Or maybe the knowledge itself was so horrible and beyond our imagination that it sunk in and he had to immediately forget about it to avoid going mad.
All I know is that after running the question through my mind for an inordinate amount of time, I think everyone should stay far away from Area 51.
Featured photo: Getty