When we were visiting our good friend in Texas, saying goodbye, Whitley overheard some of her caretakers saying, "We can't let Whitley speak at the funeral." He assumed they were afraid he would mention one of the last the "taboo topics" in our society? UFOs and close encounters?so we decided not to go. This got me to thinking about the fact that being "anti-UFO," and making fun of people who have had close encounters, or are simply interested in the UFO subject, is one of the last acceptable prejudices.
As I write this, a "shock jock" named Don Imus has been fired for using racial epithets about a group of black female basketball players and the actor Mel Gibson has been embarrassed by ranting against Jews when pulled over for driving under the influence. Comedian Michael Richards got in trouble for using the "N" word in a routine in a night club.
In most places, you can't make nasty remarks about gays (although plenty of people do anyway). Along the coasts, especially, you can't be openly anti-Semitic. Only blacks use the "N word" these days (even white people in the South don't use it). But I can't think of ANYWHERE that people will look down on you for laughing about UFOs?in fact, some of the nastiest anti-UFO remarks are made by people in "official" UFO organizations! I can't think of any other minority group that indulges in this kind of self-hate.
I once lived among a large group of prejudiced people, and after I let one too many nasty remarks slip by without comment, I made a vow to myself not to keep quiet when someone made what I considered to be a biased remark against a particular group of people. It takes courage to be the lonely voice in a crowd, but I made a promise to myself to speak up and I've kept that promise. The result is kind of like farting loudly in public, but it does wake people up a little. Prejudice only thrives when people can make the assumption that everyone else feels the same way, so they're free to indulge their own dark impulses instead of hold them up to the light for inspection.
When Whitley toured for his ground-breaking book "Communion," he went on national TV shows where the host would laugh openly at him and encourage the audience to do so as well. But when he was backstage, talking to the camera men and the rest of the crew, he would hear stories like, "I had an experience with the same kind of alien that's on the cover of your book." This happened to him so often that it got to be routine.
I think science will vindicate all of these people eventually, which is why I helped design unknowncountry.com as a science website. When quantum mechanics (which is the way things REALLY work) becomes taught in school the way Newtonian physics is now, these experiences will make a lot more sense and we may even figure out what they are. My best guess is that what are typically called "aliens" are time travelers or beings from a parallel universe. I don't know the answer yet, despite reading letters from literally hundreds of thousands of experiencers, not to mention being with Whitley during the years he was having his own experiences nightly, but they make a lot more sense to me since I have struggled, over the years, to get a basic grasp of quantum physics. As I said to my daughter-in-law (who wants to be a writer) after I published two mystery novels: "If I can do it, anyone can!" and I mean that sincerely.
And those of us who are interested in UFOs don't DESERVE respect unless we take our cue from science, rather than belief, which only leads down the road to the kind of "my god is better than your god" warfare that we see daily in the news from Iraq. Mysterious and confusing UFO events, which are happening every day to people all over the world, will someday be understood, if enough scientists will only have the courage to investigate them, instead of scoffing at them in order to protect their reputations in the academic community. It's a lonely feeling to realize that you'll eventually be vindicated by history that you probably won't be around to see, but it's all that UFO experiencers have to cling to, right now.
NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.