A recent remark made by an Air Force general, along with the reaction it caused, leads me to believe America is in serious need of reconsidering its concept of Unidentified Flying Objects, or UFOs. I want to make a bold proposition — this country may be in need of a Make America’s UFOs Great Again movement (MAUFOGA).
Without such a movement, our national sense of awe and wonder could be permanently diminished. Such a possible consequence does not bode well for our country’s traditional outlook regarding the future.
As many know, when the latest of four UFOs was recently shot down by an Air Force jet, General Glen VanHerck, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command was asked at a press conference if aliens could be involved, “I haven’t ruled out anything,” he said.
His comment threw UFO enthusiasts, of which there are many, into a collective tizzy. “This is the proof I have long been waiting for,” they shouted, hopeful the general was somehow right about aliens zipping across galaxies and coming to visit us in objects apparently closely resembling hot air balloons.
I can see why UFO true believers would desperately seize upon the general’s comments. Finally, no more relying on blurry photos or grainy video footage as questionable UFO evidence. No more depending on dubious individuals and their hazy accounts of being probed by overly curious aliens. No more explaining to skeptics how giant stone heads on Easter Island equate to aliens once frequenting this planet. U.S. aircraft shooting down slow moving UFOs, followed by a four-star general alluding to the possibility of aliens, lent a degree of credibility to their UFO beliefs.
The Biden administration eventually threw cold water on their hopes. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made it clear in a subsequent press conference that “there is no—again, no— indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I respect the typical UFO fans’ desperate desire to be proven right. In a way, they resemble San Diego Padres fans in their stubborn perseverance and unbroken sense of faith, no matter the same unsatisfying outcome.
Yet, I worry what the general’s comment and the UFO enthusiasts’ reaction say about our national psyche. After all, balloon-like objects do not represent the sense of wonder and awe that UFO’s have traditionally inspired.
America has long been an optimistic forward-looking country — always looking ahead with rose-tinted glasses, faithfully assuming we are bound for greater levels of greatness. And I contend our concept of UFOs has consistently coincided with that positive, futuristic outlook.
Accordingly, what we need to do now is reappraise General VanHerck’s comment and avoid any national inclination to scale down on the concept of UFOs. We need to once again think big in terms of UFOs, like we did in our optimistic American UFO past.
America has a long history of imagining UFOs as super high-tech vehicles capable of transporting aliens from highly advanced interstellar civilizations. We have often visualized them as cool looking flying saucers traveling through galaxies at speeds we can’t comprehend. Even on those occasions when UFOs are described as less streamlined, they are still speculated upon as displaying the advanced technology that can traverse worm holes and skip past black holes at warp speed.
I contend that for several decades now, UFOs have helped Americans visualize the future in a positive manner. It’s no coincidence the first American sighting of a UFO took place in 1947, immediately after World War II, when our country looked toward a bright future as a global superpower. Optimism was in the air, and so were flying saucers, like the one that purportedly crashed at Roswell, New Mexico.
So, what are we to think when our latest impression of UFOs has been reduced to the level of hot air balloons? Seems we have stopped identifying UFOs with flying saucer-shaped objects possessing nimble turn-on-a-dime maneuverability.
Americans now appear so eager to settle for UFOs looking like slow, old school balloons — a phenomenon that ironically happens to be just the opposite of what originally occurred at Roswell, where Air Force generals claimed a UFO was a mere hot air balloon, but UFO aficionados countered by wildly imagining flying saucers, and the rest of the country said, “Yeah. Sure. Why not?”
What harm is there in Americans now accepting UFOs as hot air balloons? I warn you, wanting so desperately to believe in UFOs that we are willing to conceive of aliens traveling the universe in low tech hot air balloons is one giant leap backward for mankind, or at least for America. I much prefer the concept of advanced technology aliens — whether they actually exist or not — because as I have laid out above, the concept historically goes hand-in-hand with a promising American future replete with hip, stylish, socially beneficial technology.
America’s future has never been imagined as one dominated by hot air balloons. The Jetsons certainly didn’t zoom around Orbit City in hot air balloons!
I worry about the diminished expectations associated with our envisioned future. I fear settling for small-minded unimaginative UFOs will soon have us thinking unimaginatively about our future in general —we will grow more pessimistic about the promise of what lies ahead for U.S. generations — and that’s not what Americans exceptionalism is all about.
If UFOs no longer represent the promise of a fantastic American future, I say we must immediately reconsider the direction of our UFO national imagination. I implore us to return to that golden American UFO era when UFOs were cool, fast, sleek, and elegant. More like Chevy Corvettes, than the more mundane description used for the first downed Chinese balloon as an object “the length of three school buses.” There is nothing cool or futuristically appealing about school buses.
Quite frankly, I am surprised former president Donald Trump did not take more political advantage of this UFO development to criticize the Biden administration. I can just see a potential Trump tweet: ”During Trump presidency, UFOs were big and beautiful. The best. So fast. So awesome. Biden UFOs are low energy. So sad,”… or maybe… “If you don’t fight for faster and sleeker UFOs, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Let’s hope the Biden administration reverses this dangerous trend toward unimaginative, lumpy, slow moving UFOs and returns us to our former big and beautiful UFO days. Yes, the infrastructure bill was nice, but I want the promise of a future worthy of the awe and wonder that flying saucers have traditionally inspired in us.
President Biden needs to talk to his Air Force generals and encourage them to go UFO big or go home. Our country’s future depends on it. If Biden hesitates, then I will soon be attending a meeting of the San Diego chapter of MAUFOGA.
Steve Rodriguez is a retired Marine Corps officer and high school teacher who last taught at Olympian High School in Chula Vista.