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09.16 ACT plans far-reaching electrification of vehicles and homes in drive to reduce emissions

09.16 'Like a sunburn on your lungs': how does the climate crisis impact health? [Important]

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09.15 Sea levels may rise more rapidly due to Greenland ice melt

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09.14 Not Just the Bees, First-of-Its-Kind Study Shows Neonics May Be Killing Birds Too [A GESTALT: Like happened at Boeing, deregulation has displaced scientific and engineering professionalism in many companies and governments to focus on profits/economics almost exclusively. But after similar failure of scientific rigor, die-off reports of bees, worms and sea-life, generally, there must be a moritorium on production, sale and use of all potentially dangerous chemicals!]

09.13 Trump Rollback of Key EPA Water Protection Rule Denounced as 'Callous' and 'Immoral' Giveaway to Big Polluters

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09.09 The Climate Investment That Promises 400 Percent Returns

09.09 Suicide rates are rising across the US, especially in rural areas

09.08 Blend solar panels with agriculture, new study recommends

09.08 Before Hurricane Dorian, Charleston Already Had a Flooding Crisis

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09.16 From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing's Glass House

09.15 'No Policy, No Facts, Just Displays of Violence': Ocasio-Cortez Says Hysterical Ad Proves GOP Has No Response to Progressive Vision [0:30 video]

09.14 Sanders Campaign Hits Back Against 'Dishonest' Biden Attack on Medicare for All [The facts don't lie, but America's media totally does lie when paid by advertisers to distort single-payer as more expensive: 1:35 video]

09.12 Media bias is OK – if it's honest [‘It should be obvious that there can’t be such a thing as a neutral journalist.’]

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09.18 Why Trump Can’t Learn: An Educated Guess by a Veteran Teacher [Might dyslexia explain the Republican party, generally?]

09.18 'Heartless and Unconscionable': Outrage as General Motors Cuts Off Healthcare for 50,000 Striking Workers [Hideous corporate behavior putting 50,000 families at greater health and bankruptcy risk.]

09.18 Whole Foods Will Cut Health-Care Benefits for Nearly 2,000 Employees [Hideous corporate behavior putting 2,000 families at greater health and bankruptcy risk.]

09.18 US healthcare is booming. So why do one in five workers live in poverty?

09.18 Greta Thunberg to Congress: ‘You’re not trying hard enough. Sorry’

09.17 'The silenced': meet the climate whistleblowers muzzled by Trump

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09.17 The Guardian view on the future of work: share out the benefits

09.16 America is stuck with Brett Kavanaugh

09.16 Sanders Responds to Biden's Praise for Pharma Companies: 'Their Behavior Is Literally Killing People Every Day'

09.15 'Americans are waking up': two thirds say climate crisis must be addressed

09.15 The Plutocratic War on People: Centrists and Conservatives are Ignoring the Giant Elephant in Our National Living Room

09.14 The U.S. Health-Care System Found a Way to Make Peanuts Cost $4,200

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09.14 Taco Bell customer who was treating homeless group to meals says she was kicked out of restaurant [A coarsening of public behavior...]

09.14 We Asked Prosecutors if Health Insurance Companies Care About Fraud. They Laughed at Us.

09.14 Elizabeth Warren’s Health Care Plan Still Leaves a Lot of Unanswered Questions

09.14 Medicare for All Would Cut Poverty by Over 20 Percent

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09.14 NY AG uncovers $1 billion in Sackler family wire transfers amid opioid probe: report

09.12 'Decades of Progress Are at Stake' as Trump Reaches 150 Lifetime Judicial Appointments and Right-Wing Court Takeover Accelerates

09.12 JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR ISSUES SCATHING DISSENT TO SUPREME COURT'S ASYLUM RULE DECISION: THE STAKES 'COULD NOT BE HIGHER'

09.11 Former top FEMA officials arrested on fraud charges in Puerto Rico

09.09 The great break-up of Big Tech is finally beginning [Facebook and Google effectuate the evil of data analytics]

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09.12 The insidious ideology pushing us towards a Brexit cliff-edge

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09.18 If the world ran on sun, it wouldn’t fight over oil [1:45 video]

09.17 ONLY A GREEN NEW DEAL CAN DOUSE THE FIRES OF ECO-FASCISM

09.17 The Guardian view on Modi’s 100 days: trashing lives and the constitution

09.17 The Observer view on the threat posed to Israel by another Benjamin Netanyahu victory

09.17 For Palestinians, Israel’s elections promise nothing but defeat

09.17 I now look back on my 20 years of climate activism as a colossal failure

09.17 The world ignored the warning signs – and now the Middle East is on the brink

09.16 EXCLUSIVE: Iranian drones launched from Iraq carried out attacks on Saudi oil plants

09.16 'We walk with our heads high': the women who care for country by fighting fire with fire

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09.16 Tunisian exit polls suggest shock victory for political outsiders

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  Happy is the Columnist who has no History
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COMMENTARY:

Happy is the Columnist who has no History

by John Hickman
Historical analogies are usually flawed, but William F. Buckley's claim equating scientific consensus about global warming with the Inquisition is particularly absurd.
When William F. Buckley Jr. accuses respectable climate scientists and environmentalists of acting like the Spanish Inquisition, Americans ought to pay close attention. After all, what other living American knows as much about conducting an inquisition in America?

The conservative movement’s favorite public intellectual drew the parallel between the “whole business” of scientific consensus about the anthropocentric causes climate change and the Spanish Church’s 15th century campaign against heresy in his March 31st column in the National Review. Buckley asserts that the belief that “carbon-dioxide emissions threaten the basic ecological balance” is required in the same fashion that profession of belief in Christianity was required by the Spanish Inquisition.

Historical analogies are usually flawed, but this one is particularly absurd. Unlike the thousands of accused heretics who were “put to the question” by the Spanish Inquisition, the tiny number of dissenters from the scientific consensus on climate change do not fear punishment, let alone fear torture during interrogation. The United States reserves that practice for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay or various CIA operated black sites.[i] Indeed, publicly dissenting from the scientific consensus on climate change is likely to be rewarded by Big Energy or its servants in the Bush administration or at the American Enterprise Institute.

If there had been no hysterical Red Scare in the Fifties, would Buckley and the rest of his ideological cohort ever have achieved national political influence?
What might explain the deployment of this peculiar historical parallel? Perhaps it is a way for Buckley to process repressed and disturbing psychic material. Remember that half a century ago he was leading young conservatives in defending the reputation of America’s own Tomas de Torquemada: Senator Joseph McCarthy. To read Buckley and L. Brent Bozell’s 1954 McCarthy and His Enemies [ii] is to be reminded of the extraordinary debt that the American conservative movement owes to this manic and repugnant demagogue. If there had been no hysterical Red Scare in the Fifties, would Buckley and the rest of his ideological cohort ever have achieved national political influence?

Perhaps Buckley is dealing with feelings of guilt about all the eggs broken during the McCarthy Era by displacing it onto climate scientists and environmentalists.
In McCarthy and His Enemies, Buckley and Bozell explicitly defend the government’s enforcement of political ideological conformity through the methods of the inquisition. They demand that security officers be given authority to purge any U.S. State Department employees deemed to “hinder our cause, whether this be their conscious aim or not.”[iii] They devote an entire chapter to defending the conformity that descended on American intellectual life in the Fifties through the vehicle of anti-communism. Buckley and Bozell write that, “we recognize that some coercive measures—i.e., restrictive sanctions of some sort—against dissidents are indispensable to the achievement of any conformity. Coercion takes different forms. It may be exercised through education, through social pressure, or through laws. But it must be exercised in one form or another if naturally diverse minds are to form a common tendency.”[iv] In effect, like so many authoritarians before and since, they argued that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. So perhaps Buckley is dealing with feelings of guilt about all the eggs broken during the McCarthy Era by displacing it onto climate scientists and environmentalists.

Before dismissing this little exercise in 'attack Freudianism,' consider what prompts the anxiety that many conservatives express about the scientific consensus on climate change. The predicted consequences of global warming paint a picture of inexorable catastrophe, against which the usual political tools of conservatism are irrelevant. Elites who made their political careers trading in fear and hatred of the Other are threatened with obsolescence by an environmental problem threatening most of humanity. Responding effectively to manifold problems caused by global warming will likely require national and international efforts dwarfing those of the Cold War. Even if the national and international response is ineffective it will expose the emptiness of the conservative intellectual tool kit. Solving collective-action problems means cooperation, and neither justifying nor organizing cooperation is not a conservative strength. That explains why the primary rhetorical ploy conservatives are now offering in service to Big Energy is denial. Despite the tendency to discount the future, they must know that denial will not save them from the coming floods.


John Hickman is associate professor of comparative politics at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. His published work on electoral politics, media, and international affairs has appeared in Asian Perspective, American Politics Research, Comparative State Politics, Contemporary South Asia, Contemporary Strategy, Current Politics and Economics of Asia, East European Quarterly, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, Jouvert, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Science, Review of Religious Research, Women & Politics, and Yamanashigakuin Law Review. He may be reached at jhickman@berry.edu.

NOTES:
[i]That the Spanish Inquisition employed its own form of the water torture that is now called “waterboarding” makes this a much better historical analogy.

[ii]William F. Buckley and L. Brent Bozell. 1954. McCarthy and His Enemies: The Record and its Meaning. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.

[iii]Ibid, p. 252.

[iv]Ibid, pp. 317-318.

































Copyright © 2007 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on April 6, 2007.
 

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