Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Eco-Terrorism in Maryland

Heard about this in the car on my way in to work. From the Washington Post (registration required):

"A dozen empty houses in a new Maryland subdivision that is the focus of a long-running environmental dispute were destroyed and numerous others were damaged yesterday in what officials said were more than 20 coordinated, methodically planned arsons."

Currently no solid link to known eco-terrorist groups like Earth Liberation Front, but I would imagine that's just a matter of time.

I don't know exactly when I woke up and realized that environmentalism wasn't about picking up litter, and supporting National Parks anymore.

It certainly wasn't while I was in college. In college I fell for all the happy-time feel-good PR put out by the Sierra Club and their ilk. Extinction bad. Trees good. That kind of thing.

But at some point I became aware of something deeply wrong at the heart of the environmental movement. Rush Limbaugh was pointing out the socialists who had disguised themselves as environmentalists, but that's not really the part that I'm talking about. I'm talking about something that was increasingly not just pro-environment, but almost anti-human.

Two different discussions with environmentalists of my acquaintance come to mind. These weren't really radical people, which is what made the conversations so shocking.

One of them was a freshly minted college graduate, who worked in an office with me several years back. Cute girl. Intelligent too. And then one day we read some article in the paper about a woman being attacked and killed by a cougar while jogging in California. I do not recall her exact words. But she made it very clear that she didn't want the cougar killed, and that she felt the woman got what she deserved - after all the cougars were there first. It struck me as so absurd I thought she misspoke or was kidding. But she most definitely was not, as followup questions proved.

The other conversation was with someone I worked with more recently. We were bantering about politics a bit. The boss we both worked for at the time was outspokenly conservative. And while I try to keep politics out of the workplace, once it's on the table I don't pretend to be liberal or anything. So we got into a bit of a debate about environmentalism. I came from the perspective that environmentalism was an important political issue because many people cared about it. I expected him to agree with that, and debate me on the specific policies. But he was actually offended. He insisted - no matter how strongly I hammered at him - that it was arrogant and wrong for humans to think their own feelings about the environment were more important than those of other species. Again - this was not a radical activist type. He was a married suburbanite, who enjoyed things like camping, hiking and canoeing in national parks.

Both of those conversations struck me with the fact that there are people out there - how many I don't know - for whom the environment is not just appreciated or respected; it is worshipped. It is not just being treated like a religion by these folks - it truly has become their religion. This is perhaps an inevitable outcome in the post-Christian West. Chesterton observed a need in man to worship and believe that the dismissal of God does not extinguish.

I'm reminded of a speech on this same topic Michael Crichton gave last year to the Commonwealth Club. An excerpt:

"I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can't be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people---the best people, the most enlightened people---do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe."

I hope our government responds to this attack the same way they would had it been committed by Al Qaeda. Prior to 9-11, I doubt they would have. But these days, I have a feeling the eco-terrorists may be in for a nasty surprise.


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