Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

02.27 How to Make College Cheaper

02.24 Knowledge Isn’t Power

02.24 The Downfall of For-Profit Colleges

Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

02.26 Shell shelves plan for tar sands project in face of low oil prices

02.25 Obama blocks Republicans' Keystone pipeline bill in rare veto

02.25 Driverless big rigs: new technologies aim to make trucking greener and safer

02.25 Lester Brown: 'Vast dust bowls threaten tens of millions with hunger'

02.24 'Socialized' or not, Britain's health care system is superior

02.24 Are Siberia's mysterious craters caused by climate change? Scientists find four new enormous holes in northern Russia

02.24 Oysters, clams and scallops face high risk from ocean acidification, new study finds

News Media

02.27 CBS Has Released the Falklands Protest Footage Bill O'Reilly Asked For. It Doesn't Support His Claims. [13:41 video]

02.26 America’s cult of the newscaster-hero has swallowed itself

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & Culture

02.27 SPIEGEL Interview with Naomi Klein: 'The Economic System We Have Created Global Warming'

02.27 The Warming World: Is Capitalism Destroying Our Planet?

02.27 DC legalises recreational marijuana despite GOP opposition in Congress

02.26 This Billionaire Governor Taxed the Rich and Increased the Minimum Wage -- Now, His State's Economy Is One of the Best in the Country

02.26 As Shutdown Nears, McConnell and Boehner Remain Far Apart

02.26 DHS shutdown: Boehner says House in 'wait-and-see mode' as deadline looms

02.26 Warren and Cummings on MSNBC's Morning Joe [9:26 video]

02.24 Elizabeth Warren, Elijah Cummings Launch 'Middle Class Prosperity Project'

02.24 Are Democrats in Denial?

02.24 Senate vote to pass DHS funding defeated as immigration dispute escalates

02.24 Who said it: Rudy Giuliani or Donald Trump? – quiz

02.24 Who Loves America?

Justice Matters

02.27 Watch John Oliver Tackle One Of the Biggest—And Least Talked About—Problems in US Politics [13:26 video]

02.26 Rape in the American Prison

02.26 Can Bipartisanship End Mass Incarceration?

02.25 Rapists Go Free While Rape Kits Go Untested

02.25 The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site'

High Crimes?

02.27 Aid agencies sound alarm on Gaza amid fears rebuilding could take a century

02.25 Syria has used barrel bombs in hundreds of locations, says rights group

Economics, Crony Capitalism

02.25 Net neutrality: Republicans to strike back against Obama's 'internet grab'

International

02.27 A Partial Accounting of the Damage Netanyahu Is Doing to Israel

02.27 The Human Stain

02.27 The Increasing Harassment of Jews Around the World [600 comments]

02.27 An Anti-ISIS Summit in Mecca

02.27 China 'aggressively' expanding into South China Sea says US

02.26 Saudis Said to Aid Israeli Plan to Bomb Iran

02.26 Emma Thompson and Greg Wise in tax boycott over HSBC scandal

02.26 3D-printed cities: is this the future?

02.25 The city that privatised itself to death: 'London is now a set of improbable sex toys poking gormlessly into the air'

02.25 Binyamin Netanyahu turns down invitation to meet Democrats on US trip

02.24 Greece bailout: Athens submits reform plan - live updates

02.24 Leaked cables show Netanyahu’s Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad [the leaked document]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Happy is the Columnist who has no History
Newspaper logo

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.
 


Public Service Ads: