Tom Purcell: Americans, unite: The Martians are coming! |
Tom Purcell, Columnist

Tom Purcell: Americans, unite: The Martians are coming!

Tom Purcell

An invasion from outer space might do America some good.

And maybe one’s coming?

In June, Politico reported a top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee sought details from the Navy about pilots reporting an “unidentified aerial phenomenon” that appeared to defy the laws of physics and aerodynamics.

The same month, CNN reported on classified Navy briefings for U.S. senators, including the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that treated those reported Navy encounters as potential threats to pilots, and maybe even to national security.

All this sets up an incredible opportunity to possibly unify our divided mess of a country.

Our rhetoric is at such a fever pitch that family members, friends, even spouses have quit talking to each other, and relationships are breaking up. American pride, reports Gallup, is at an all-time low since Gallup first measured it in 2001.

It might just take a truly scary foe to bring out our best.

World War II unified Americans to defeat the Axis powers. Americans together staved off the Cold War prospect of nuclear annihilation — and rejoiced when the Berlin Wall came down and the USSR crumbled.

The horrific events of 9/11 dissolved political, cultural and other animosities as millions of Americans united — even congressional Republicans and Democrats held hands and sang “God Bless America.”

An apparently daunting challenge — but one without massive death and destruction — just might reinvigorate our sense of community, civility and togetherness.

Which brings us back to invaders from outer space.

The federal government could borrow billions of dollars more to stage a spectacular re-creation of Orson Welles’ 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, which dramatized a Martian invasion of New Jersey — and scared the bejeezus out of millions who believed it was real news.

Of course, this new “War of the Worlds” would use radio, TV, websites and social media to announce “breaking news” of an alien invasion — targeting not New Jersey but today’s high-tech industry, which makes yesterday’s science fiction today’s reality.

“Tech billionaires Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have discarded their human forms to reveal they are crustacean-looking extraterrestrials hell-bent on world domination,” cable news might report.

The media wouldn’t buy it, you say? People are too sophisticated to fall for it?

If only!

First off, if a crustacean-looking ET did try to hide within a human form, it would look pretty much like Gates, or Bezos, or Zuckerberg.

Second, the media would happily report the story 24/7 — once President Trump tweeted that it’s a “fake news” hoax.

Third, at a time when objective, critical thinking is shouted down by emotional groupthink, too many Americans believe pretty much anything that appears in their social media news feeds.

Yes, a new “War of the Worlds” would be an outlandish way to bring us together in these divided times. But would it really be any more outlandish than lower taxes in combination with lots more spending or trillions in promised government dough to pay off college loans for students with degrees in international pantomime theory?

Sooner or later, the hoax would become known. But at least we’d have that feeling of unity again — if only for a while.

And I’d have fun auditioning for — and hopefully playing — the part Orson Welles played so masterfully in 1938.

Freelance writer Tom Purcell of Library is author of “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood.” Visit him on the web at

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