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Earth Day Going from Red to Green By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, April 21, 2006


This Saturday, April 22, is Earth Day.  Launched by Leftists in 1970 as a kind of American “May Day” holiday to gather, seduce new converts, promote socialism and bash capitalism, this special day is now evolving from private property-devouring caterpillar into capitalist butterfly.

This is driving some leftists crazy.

“Speaking as an environmental, wilderness and anti-corporate activist, I see no reason to participate in this year’s celebration,” the head of the Oregon-based group Wild Wilderness Scott Silver told radical journalist Bill Berkowitz in a 2005 interview. “My opinion is that the iconic Earth Day event has succumbed to corporate takeover and it is time to move on.”

 

Earth Day has become a celebration of environmental progress touted – or in Berkowitz’s words “co-opted and commercialized” – by President George W. Bush, energy-producing and other corporate sponsors, “right-wing think tanks,” and even United States Army ads that depict our soldiers “Sustaining the Environmental for a Secure Future.”

 

“The Bush Administration and his corporate allies will frame Earth Day as a time for all Americans to do their part to help the planet,” said Silver. “They will encourage us to recycle more, waste less water….plant seedlings, save odd scraps of aluminum foil and compost our table scraps…. They will frame the issue saying that corporate interests are working on the technological fixes that will allow Americans to continue to drive their Hummers.”

 

Earth Day, said “old-school activist” Silver, has become “largely meaningless.” 

 

One can almost sympathize with the frustration of these Leftist watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) at having their carefully concocted anti-capitalist weapon, Earth Day, snatched away and used to celebrate capitalism.

 

Christians, too, have seen their biggest holy days “co-opted and commercialized” by such pagan substitutes for their Savior as Santa Claus and the chocolate egg-laying Easter Bunny. (The annual White House Easter egg roll comes from Mesopotamian pagan religion. In the Bible Jesus never colored or rolled an egg.)

 

The Left invented Earth Day as a tool for their ideology. One of the self-identified "founders" of Earth Day, Bay Area activist John McConnell, has written that in 1969 he proposed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors a new holiday to be called Earth Day on the first day of spring, the Equinox, around March 21.

 

But, he wrote, in 1970 local anti-Vietnam War and Environmental Teach-in activists "who were planning a one-time event for April 22, also decided to call their event Earth Day."

 

And what was this unnamed "one-time event" in 1970? It was the 100th birthday celebration for Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, known to history as Lenin, a pen name he might have coined from Siberia’s Lena River.

 

Lenin was the patron saint of the North Vietnamese Communists such as Ho Chi Minh who in 1970 America was fighting. And Lenin apparently has been patron saint to the Marxist vanguard of American activists who with their Teach-ins and other anti-war activities helped their comrades win in Southeast Asia -- and who now hold positions of power throughout American colleges, universities, and media.

 

Might it be mere coincidence that Earth Day falls on Lenin’s Birthday? No, this link was apparently intended from the beginning. Sincere environmentalists who objected that Lenin’s Soviet Union was a despoiler of the natural ecology of Russia, a dammer of rivers and polluter of ecosystems, have been ignored or silenced.

 

Requests by sincere environmentalists to change Earth Day’s date – as one logically would do if a holiday had been accidentally placed on the birthday of a mass murderer such as Adolf Hitler – have been rejected or harshly rebuffed. 

 

Thus, from its birth, Earth Day has been out of harmony with nature (the Equinox) and with cultural traditions of spring (May Day). Earth Day is an absurd imposition, like Marxism itself, rudely forced between those two already-long-established spring celebrations. But with the commercialization of Earth Day, the Left is losing control and its holiday has begun to fragment into a variety of celebrations that stretch from April 3 to April 30.

 

Earth Day’s best friends have been like the late David Brower, founder in 1969 of Friends of the Earth (FOE). Born in Berkeley, Brower was the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club (1952-1969) and spearheaded its efforts to shut down road construction and development in National Parks. He was the subject of John McPhee’s classic Encounters with the Archdruid. Brower put together books himself such as Not Man Apart, which juxtaposed photos of Big Sur to lines by self-labeled "Inhumanist," pantheist, and anti-capitalist poet Robinson Jeffers. In his later years Brower went on a pilgrimage to Nicaragua to praise and embrace its Fidel Castro-aligned Marxist Sandinista rulers.

 

April 22 has become a political holiday for those pseudo-environmentalists known as Watermelons, green on the outside but red on the inside. The fall of the Iron Curtain revealed that pollution in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe was thousands of times worse than anything in the West – but these phony ecologists uttered no anathema against Marxist dictatorships. (Brower, at Soviet request, visited Lake Baikal in Siberia, and Russian propagandists used this to project an international image of the dictatorship’s environmental awareness and caring.)

 

And the crowds and publicity of the first Earth Day in 1970 panicked some politicians. That same year Republican President Richard Nixon rushed to create the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and a Democratic congress imposed tough national standards in the Clean Air Act.  (To comply with its peculiar standards, by 2010 the City of Atlanta may be forced not only to banish every car, bus and factory but also to start cutting down surrounding trees to stop their emissions from exceeding federal air pollution limits.)

 

For many political Leftists, environmentalism is merely a pretext through which private property and capitalism can be regulated, strangled, and finally replaced with totalitarian government ownership of everything.

 

After all, Marxist (as well as Nazi) and ecological dogmas declare that we are all interconnected and interdependent, and therefore no individual can be permitted freedom to deviate from the collective will. (This, of course, ignores the fact that we live as individual self-contained organisms, and that every bit of human innovation has come from individuals deviating from old ways.)

 

But as the Left concocted it, Earth Day was supposed to be “commercialized” and exploited in ways that brought lots of green – to them. It may not give them as much power as Leftists crave, but Earth Day as an annual event continues to bring them fat, juicy profits.

 

This single holiday employs at least 3,400 leaders of tax-exempt environmental groups, many pocketing $150,000 or more per year, doing quite well by doing “good.” It has become an industry for the Left, a lucrative industry that would shut down if environmental fear and doomsaying came to an end. The wealth in the environmental organization business comes from mining other peoples’ wallets, using never-ending crises as tools to pry loose their money. Not surprisingly, it’s a dirty and often deceitful business that puts the “con” in conservation.

 

Hoover Institution fellow Peter Schweitzer documents such leftwing greed in his wonderful 2005 book Do As I Say (Not as I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy.  From radical Noam Chomsky to Marxist historian Howard Zinn to radio talk host and Democratic Party shill Al Franken, today’s lefties have made themselves millionaires by denouncing capitalism. They have called for confiscatory taxation of the “rich” while using shelters and other means to avoid paying taxes themselves.

 

The leaders of environmental organizations exhibit similar hypocrisy. The Sierra Club refused to oppose illegal immigration despite the huge ecological damage it causes. Like its watermelon comrades, the Sierra Clubbers thereby show themselves to be more concerned about partisan politics than the environment.

 

Greenpeace opposed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, even though this dictator’s deliberate destruction of Iraq’s marshlands did environmental damage comparable to the deforestation in the Amazon basin. The Nature Conservancy sold land donated for preservation for pennies on the dollar to one of its officials, who built a luxury waterfront estate on it. Almost everywhere you look closely enough in the leftward environmental movement, you find sleaze, hypocrisy, self-aggrandizement, dishonesty and corruption.

 

Even the so-called Green Party in 2004 stabbed in the back its former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, an honest and sincere leftist, and cut a backroom deal with the Democratic Party not to undermine its candidate Senator John Kerry in as many as 17 pivotal states. How much money changed hands in this deal remains to be discovered. In effect, the Green Party sold its followers out by becoming a mere auxiliary of the corrupt Democratic Party.

 

America’s self-appointed environmental spokesman, the prating and pompous former Vice President Al Gore (now a sock puppet for the radical group MoveOn.org and its bank-roller anti-American billionaire George Soros) continues to enrich himself through oil company dealings.  At the same time, Gore spews unscientific hot air about purported global warming as part of a carefully orchestrated worldwide propaganda campaign to increase taxes, regulation and government power everywhere.

 

Sincere environmentalists this Earth Day should pause and contemplate whether, in the long run, Marxism is actually compatible with the world they desire. This is necessary because many of those pushing today’s environmental agenda come from the fever swamps of the far Left and, like self-described “anti-corporate” eco-activist Scott Silver, admit almost openly that they are pushing this issue not to preserve nature but to destroy capitalism.

 

Want more evidence?  Consider the Oakland, California, radical “freelance journalist” Bill Berkowitz who gave Silver an interview platform for his views. His “investigations” in a column called “Conservative Watch” appear in dozens of leftwing publications, and virtually every word he writes bashes Christians, conservatives or Republicans.

 

Born in New York City, Berkowitz entered the University of Kansas in 1965 and promptly became a leftwing campus radical who took part in at least some activities of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

 

Berkowitz was later on the “Defense Committee” for Randy Gould, a University of Kansas anti-Vietnam War activist indicted by a federal grand jury for suspected links to a series of 1970 bombings in Kansas and Missouri connected to the radical Weather Underground. Berkowitz later reported Gould’s claim that the government “alleged lots of things that weren’t true and lots of things that were irrelevant” about his purported ties to the Weathermen. Gould even named his pet dog after violent anarchist labor organizer Joe Hill. He was convicted of being part of a conspiracy to make, possess and transport explosive devices across state lines (without paying the required federal tax) and beginning in the mid 1970s served less than a year in prison and four more years on probation. Such were the close comrades of Bill Berkowitz.

 

In 1973 Berkowitz traveled to Communist Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade “to disrupt U.S. blockade efforts.”

 

Soon thereafter Berkowitz was hired on the west coast to do promotional work the North American Congress on Latin America. How far left are NACLA’s politics? This May 20 in Washington, D.C., they are one of the organizers of the “Hands Off Venezuela and Cuba!” march in defense of Marxists Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

 

In 1974, Berkowitz writes, he “joined the United Farm Workers Union boycott team in Oakland, California,” where he lives today. “My assignment was to organize Berkeley and North Oakland residents in support of the UFW’s boycott of grapes and Gallo wines.”

 

Berkowitz has worked hard to keep his radical past out of the brief biographies tagged to his articles, and with good reason. In a statement that tells volumes about his character, Berkowitz wrote of his UFW organizing: “Our mission was to ‘talk’ with the truckers delivering non-union products, and picket those fruit dealers selling non-union grapes….”

 

That “talk” he put in quote marks is Berkowitz’s way, in his article for a leftwing union crowd, of winking and telling them that he, of course, wasn’t really trying to share ideas or genuine honest conversation with these truckers. He was trying to manipulate them and milk them for information to help the radical union cause. Exactly the same can be said for his so-called “journalism” from that day until this, which has never deviated from being raw, far-Left propaganda designed to help overthrow capitalism and advance the world socialist revolution.

 

The closest I could find that Berkowitz has come to criticism of the radical Left is his 2001 article datelined Havana that chided Fidel Castro’s Marxist police state because “the Cuban Revolution has had a rocky relationship with its gay citizens.” Berkowitz hastened to add that gays are now treated well in Cuba, especially since the government has come to rely on tourism for its revenue.

 

The ugly truth Berkowitz was unwilling to call by name is that Castro routinely imprisoned, tortured and killed gays merely for being homosexuals, a pattern that Hollywood and the liberal media have been loathe to mention. And in the service of tourist dollars, Castro has forced thousands of young Cubans, female and male, adults and children, into prostitution and left his people degraded and diseased in ways far worse than anything under the casino and nightclub-accepting government Castro overthrew.

 

Berkowitz spent 24 years at the Oakland-based leftwing “public interest research group DataCenter” before becoming a freelance writer and regular columnist at Working Assets and its radical web site WorkingForChange.com.

 

On this Earth Day, understand that Bill Berkowitz is not the exception but the rule. Look deeply enough into the background of any of the leftwing journalists putting out environmentalist, global warming and other political propaganda designed to undermine American capitalism and you will probably find ideologues who worship the likes of Fidel Castro and are eager to turn our nation into a “Peoples Paradise” like Cuba.

 

Such are the “journalists” who craft the news stories and interviews that pretend to be so so sensitive about the environment, so caring and committed about our need for bigger government, higher taxes and more regulation. And, of course, they are willing to write an infinite number of scare or smear stories to push you into surrendering your freedom to the next stage of socialism.

 

As I and other journalists have said for decades, radical Leftists whose views have been discredited in all other spheres have found a refuge and rampart in the environmental movement from which they can counter-attack capitalism.

 

On the surface both worldviews appear to have many things in common. Both extreme Environmentalism and Marxism are collectivist philosophies. One dissolves the individual human being into an interconnected web of life and opposes his right to act "selfishly." The other dissolves the individual into a class and declares him a puppet of economic forces.

 

Both Marxism and extreme Environmentalism are utopian pagan religions. One aims to end all conflict in the world by eradicating all the but the Working Class, thereby restoring (at a higher level) the equality, harmony, sharing, and property-free world enjoyed by our distant tribal ancestors. The other envisions a future of simplicity, natural harmony, sharing, and an end to carving up Mother Earth with property boundaries and with the capitalist view of nature and labor as commodities to be bought, hoarded, and sold.

 

Both Marxism and extreme Environmentalism, in other words, seem to believe that we can get back to Eden. This utopianism requires a certain self-imposed blindness. Science has now clearly shown that the "noble savage," free of civilization’s taint, that Marx and Rousseau idealized never really existed. The idyllic "nature" imagined by extreme Environmentalists is in fact carved constantly from Earth’s clay with tooth and claw.

 

The infantile Environmentalism exhibited by young Earth Day enthusiasts conjures an Edenic fantasy where the lion lays down with the lamb – without licking its chops. It is a pristine place where nothing ever changes except the color of leaves with the seasons. No Ice Ages drive species into extinction, no asteroids exterminate the dinosaurs, no fires from lightning burn down old growth forests. It is Eden, and the only serpent in this utopian socialist garden is man.

 

Deeper Environmentalists understand that fire and cataclysm are part of the natural cycle of things. If no volcanic forces polluted the skies or thrust the land upward, the whole world would have subsided beneath the oceans.  Because rain washes all sulfur and carbon to the sea, where it settles onto ocean bottoms, without volcanoes to recycle these life chemicals into atmospheric CO2 and acid rain, all life on Earth would have vanished billions of years ago. Of all the species that have ever lived on Earth, more than 90 percent became naturally extinct before humankind arrived.

 

And, if only subliminally, Deep Environmentalists dimly understand other contradictions within today’s popular shallowly-simplistic Environmentalist and Marxist thought.

 

One epithet that those on the Left hurl at capitalists is to call us "social Darwinists" who see society as a "jungle" where "the strong prey on the weak." Deconstruct this attack and what do you discover? They are accusing capitalism of being just like nature. But did not Leftist Environmentalists say they liked nature? Or is their idea of nature an English garden, full of tidy walks, benches, fountains and no carnivorous animals?

 

The free marketplace, in fact, is like nature. Competitors struggle to fill empty or vulnerable niches, win allies, defeat rivals, and control territory. Natural life forms, we now know, instinctively understand allocation of energy (investment), territoriality (property), possession (ownership and "selfishness"), and status (wealth).

 

Switching the game from individualist capitalism to collectivist Marxism or tribalism does not "de-nature" this competition. It merely changes the coin of the realm from money-and-voluntary-exchange (i.e., choice and freedom) to power-and-coercive-exchange (i.e., slavery). In the Soviet Union, as in Communist China and Cuba, the rulers have lived in the dachas and feasted on caviar; the workers have lived in one-room apartments or collective farms and stood in line for bread.

 

Capitalism is infinitely more sophisticated than Marxism. The free market responds to the democratic wishes of people, swiftly switching its supplies to meet demand like the cybernetic feedback loops of a living organism. Marxism, by contrast, is basically just a primitive command system in which a commissar decides that the shoe factory should produce only Size 12 black boots.

 

A marketplace will emerge, naturally, in Marxist societies – but it will be a black market that must expend its best energies circumventing the government. I still remember how when I visited there as a journalist my guide in Communist Cuba locked his car each time we parked in that "workers’ paradise." An unlocked car would quickly be stripped for scarce, valuable spare parts.

 

But in some ways Marxism seems more akin to Western capitalism than to radical Environmentalism. As Robert Tucker observed in Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx, mainstream Marxism is a utopian religion, but it is also materialistic and "scientific." It assumes that humankind, as a successful animal species within nature, is entitled to subdue and exploit nature and to use technology to alter nature for our benefit. The Hammer and Sickle are not symbols of eco-sensitivity.

 

The humanist Marxist religion is not "Godless," strictly speaking; according to Friedrich Engels, "Man is God," at least in the collective sense. For radical Environmentalists, by contrast, "Mother Nature" is God, and our planet would be better off if humankind, the cancer threatening to kill this planet by "ecocide," became extinct; humans have no right to exploit other creatures, nor to alter Earth’s environment in any way that harms others. And, of course, any change disadvantages some species and elevates others.

 

In short, Marxism holds that humankind is inherently good, despite all the evidence of how men behave in Communist states. Today’s extreme Environmentalists tend to believe humankind is evil. And traditional Western Judeo-Christian belief is that God is God; that human beings possess a "lower" nature that is evil or sinful; and that law, morality, and religion are needed to suppress the worst and encourage the "higher" potential in individuals. In this traditional view we have lost the Garden of Eden but, Felix Culpa, have within our reach something even better.

 

With Passover and Easter behind us, what should we believe on what was created to be April 22s Marxo-pagan celebration of Earth Day? Was, e.g., President Bush wrong to jettison a Kyoto Protocol on global warming already rejected by a 95-0 bipartisan vote of the U.S. Senate? No.

 

Truth be told, as this column detailed, one of the chief experts Vice President Al Gore relied on in his predictions that global climate was warming has now changed his mind, at least about cause if not effect. Dr. James Hansen, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, still says Earth is warming – but the cause, he now finds, is not CO2 from burning fossil fuels but carbon black (soot) and other pollutants. But the Kyoto treaty is focused on restraining CO2. It, therefore, should be rejected, even according to the new analysis of this most famous global warming doomsayer.

 

But the publicity-loving Dr. Hanson continues to appear on media outlets such as CBS’s “60 Minutes” and to complain of how routine government rules to prevent its employees from making official policy declarations without permission are “gagging” him.

 

Why, one wonders, has CBS refused to tell its viewers that Dr. Hanson backed Senator Kerry’s 2004 presidential candidacy and, surely by coincidence, pocketed $250,000 from a foundation run by Kerry’s wife. He has a long record of political partisanship that has included support for Mr. Gore and attacks on President George H.W. Bush, as well as a reputation among his climatologist colleagues for drawing extreme conclusions from his data.

 

Most of the media alarm over purported global warming has come from only a tiny handful of scientists such as Dr. Hanson. When scrutinized, in most of them it is hard to discern where science ends and political advocacy or other motives for their alarmist statements begin.

 

One good lesson for Earth Day would be to teach our children that science, however noble and pure in its ideals, is practiced by fallible human beings who sometimes go cockeyed or become politicized.  (The late Carl Sagan was one who in near his end totally betrayed the ethics of science in his passion to push a political agenda….but that is a story for another column.) Scientists, like any other human, can fall prey to megalomania, self-delusion, ideology, greed, self-aggrandizement, or a stubborn unwillingness to reconsider what they have asserted with certitude in the past.

 

Around this Earth Day do not hold your breath waiting for liberal teachers to show their students the many flaws and dubious claims made by the global warming advocates. Sadly, our public schools are no longer dedicated to teaching children to think critically and analytically like real scientists. Our kids, instead, are taught to swallow leftwing dogma unquestioningly and to cease thinking altogether. If they could think, they would vomit up such leftwing filth up and no longer have their minds poisoned by it. And where would their liberal teachers and their ideological agendas be then? This is why so many in our schools and universities try to impose mental totalitarianism.

 

Ongoing research has found that Antarctica may not be melting down from human pollution. Major flaws have been detected in global temperature measurements, as I was first to report in Reader’s Digest more than a decade ago, and these flaws make global warming claims unreliable. Bush’s science advisors also have reasons to believe that if human activity is warming our climate, then human technologies can be used to reverse that warming. We are not helpless animals on this planet.

 

Several European nations and the United Nations are outraged that the U.S. has backed

away from a bad Kyoto treaty promoted so assiduously by President Bill Clinton and Vice President Gore. Warming climate, however, has little to do with their upset. Even if fully implemented, the Kyoto Protocol, impartial scientists calculate, would have lowered global temperature by only seven one-thousandths of a degree Celsius.

 

But the Kyoto treaty would have opened the door to a whole new universe of massive new taxes on virtually every form of energy. It also laid the basis for vast new government powers to control and regulate virtually all citizen and corporate activities. It is, in short, a classic Marxist attempt to concoct a crisis to frighten people into accepting one of the biggest government power grabs in human history.

 

And since European welfare states are already under such taxes and regulations, it is no wonder that they want to put freer international competitors such as the United States under the same burdens and into the same chains and manacles.

 

This Earth Day our children will continue to be targeted by this crisis propaganda. They will be told that we cannot drill for oil on 20 acres of the two million acres of the desolate Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. (Notice how Watermelon Environmentalists want you to "love nature," but they lock you out of it or deter visitors by charging you a fee to visit your own National Parks?)

 

And our children will be told that even though nuclear power now costs less and is safer than burning all those fossil fuels Environmentalists warn are warming our climate, no new climate-friendly nuclear power plants can be permitted.

 

If America’s original spirit of liberty were still alive, April 22 would be remembered only as "Elian Day," that infamous date in 2000 when President Bill Clinton and his stooge Al Gore, at Fidel Castro’s command, sent storm troopers to re-enslave six-year-old Elián Gonzalez at gunpoint in Miami, Florida.

 

Lenin might not be on display this Earth Day, but his evil spirit still haunts the edges of this strange holiday where green fades to brown and red. In his Red Square shrine Lenin’s embalmed body is turning green.

 

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Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.


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