Add UFOs to your list of issues

The aliens are here — illegal aliens from outer space. And what is President Donald Trump to do? Put out tweets referring to them as “little green men,” no matter if that is politically incorrect, stereotypical speciesism? Call for a transparent, impermeable, continental dome that the aliens will be forced to pay for? Or maybe just say a former Pentagon official is guilty of fake news?

This latter alternative is probably the most acceptable, although it would be a shame because we’ve been given something solid to think about. It is rare for a credible UFO investigator to say we have evidence of extraterrestrial vehicles, but Luis Elizondo has not hesitated. He says the case is beyond a reasonable doubt.

Understand that his conviction arises not from burying his head in science fiction, but from having served as head of a once-secret Pentagon agency that looked into thousands of UFO reports. What emerged was something extraordinary, and he wanted the persistently reluctant agency to go public with the details and to keep busily at work. Here, he felt, could reside a danger to our national security, and what he finally did was resign from the government last October to have his own say.

The heart of his message is that there have been incidents in which our own military has observed an oval-shaped object zooming about in the sky with no apparent means of propulsion. Its maneuverability and speed have been incredible to the point of aliens being a rational explanation. To check it out, you can look at an online 2004 video filmed by American jets that got as close as they could. One pilot, Commander David Fravor, said it was something unlike any aircraft in the world.

Elizondo has other backers. It was Harry Reid as a U.S. senator who was persuaded by Robert Bigelow, a billionaire entrepreneur in Nevada, to insert language in a budget bill establishing the agency. Bigelow, who heads up a large aerospace firm and has done much of the Pentagon agency’s research, said on “60 Minutes” that aliens exist and have visited our planet.

We’ve gone this direction before. In 1947, a military pilot had a close encounter with what he deemed as nothing identifiable as an earthly aircraft. His concerns led to the establishment of a program — Project Blue Book — that then responded to thousands of sightings, finding that all of those lending themselves to examination were provably natural phenomena or something manmade such as balloons, aircraft or rockets. The project ended in 1969 with assurances of no national security worries.

Scientists have mostly been dismissive of UFO claims, one pointing out that even an instance of something inexplicable might only mean science isn’t there yet. Other citizens believe a lot more is out there than the government concedes, and, surprisingly enough, Hillary Clinton said during the 2016 presidential campaign that the government should open up its mountain of classified UFO files unless national security is at stake. I agree with her — this time.

And while I myself do not believe in extraterrestrial visitors or drones, I do believe the evidence of the moment does suggest that we should continue researching the issue, not just to serve our security but because of all the fascinating things that might be learned. What we don’t want is something like the panic said to have ensued in 1938 when some people mistook an Orson Wells-directed radio drama about alien invaders for an actual newscast.

Even if aliens are visiting us, they might turn out to be kind and deeply moral, helping us to find peace on Earth and even solve something like global warming. Imagine Trump walking over to meet them, giving a big handshake and and saying they would help make America great again.

Jay Ambrose is a columnist for Tribune News Service.

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