A steadfast Republican, Allan counted as allies Olin Teague, Don Fuqua, Bob Roe and George Brown, all Democrats who held the committee’s top post between 1973 and 1995. And although the policy emphasis of the committee shifted when Republicans took control of the House in 1995, Bob Walker, current incumbent Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Sherry Boehlert, who served as chairmen between 1995 and 2007, never tied science to a political whipping post.
But today, House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, seems unable to rein in the anti-science attacks coming from the far right. Without question, those attacks are fueled by a strong anti-government fervor, but they are woefully misguided and extremely dangerous.
Fifty years ago, we faced few challenges to our technological superiority. The 21st century world is a vastly different place. Europe and Asia have caught up, and with their strong commitment to science, they are dispossessing us of our No. 1 ranking.
Attacking science and scientists in Washington may help right-wing radicals score political points back home. But it will do little to help our nation succeed in an increasingly competitive global marketplace of ideas, discoveries and innovation. My advice to them is simple: Leave politics at the door when you enter the House Science, Space and Technology chamber.
Michael S. Lubell is the Mark W. Zemansky Professor of Physics at the City College of the City University of New York and director of public affairs of the American Physical Society.