Professor Stephen Hawking recently stated that aliens almost certainly exist and that it is probably unwise for humans to attempt to contact them at this time. Sure, in the context of his Discovery Channel television series such a statement seems innocent enough, but what the smartest man on the planet didn’t foresee was that every news station in the country would rebroadcast his comments to teabaggers.
Hawking’s reasoning is that aliens capable of faster than light travel would probably have been driven to such technology out of necessity; in particular the necessity for resources. If our history is any indication, we could be the next Native Americans to an alien white man. This is certainly sound reasoning and intelligent people should always be skeptical when dealing with unknown beings (be them human or alien). However, we must also reach out and try to make friends with our neighbors (be them human or alien).
I think Hawking takes that for granted. Unfortunately, we have teabaggers who are generally too emotional, superstitious, and fearful to begin with. Making them more afraid of the unknown is probably not the best idea.
What if we did make contact with aliens and they seem friendly. Rational people should still of course be skeptical but not to the point of being unfriendly or undiplomatic. Not too trusting, but trusting enough. Unfortunately, we have religious wackos who might see an alien race as a threat to their belief system. These people (not necessarily mutually exclusive from the teabaggers) tend to already be fearful and don’t really need Dr. Hawking to give them any more reason to pick up their pitchforks and form lynch mobs.
I think there is a middle ground between handing a stranger the keys to the city (or the planet) and chasing them off the planet with pitchforks. Could you imagine a President Sarah Palin having to deal with an alien first contact? Even if those aliens were genuinely friendly, I think we would be at war. Lesson to Dr. Hawking, don’t scare the superstitious.