Seeing the Green Scare as a Cultural or Religious War

by Will Potter on September 12, 2006

in Government Priorities,Terrorism Scare Mongering

There’s an article floating around by Alex Epstein of the Ayn Rand Institute (Ugh, I know, but stay with me here) that reveals a lot about the goals of the New McCarthyists in this Green Scare:

Animal rights terrorists are often cast as “extremists” who take “too far” the allegedly benevolent cause of animal rights. But… the terrorists’ inhuman tactics are an embodiment of the movement’s inhuman cause.

…While these terrorists should be condemned and imprisoned, that is not enough. We must wage a principled, intellectual war against the very notion of animal rights; we must condemn it as logically false and morally repugnant.

People ask me all the time why corporations and politicians spend scarce anti-terrorism resources going after animal rights and environmental activists that have never killed anyone. After reading about all the legislation, court cases and general harassment, they often say something like, “Ok, so some property crimes have taken place by some activists, but I don’t understand such a disproportionate response against all activists.”

My response is generally that corporations see their profits at stake, and politicians, in turn, need to protect the profits of the corporations that support them. But it goes much deeper than that, I’m realizing. I still can’t completely put my finger on it, but these New McCarthyists feel that more than money is at stake here.

They see it as a new culture war, in a way. To people like Epstein, it’s not just about profits. It’s about a way of life. The War on Terrorism is merely a tactic to fight an ideological war against those who challenge the notion that humans have the right to subjugate the environment or animals to their own selfish interests. Environmental activists and animal rights activists are not merely seen as “pro-environment” or “pro-animal,” they’re seen as “anti-human.” They’re seen as a threat to the sanctity of human life.

To some, the activists are a threat to the deeply-held religious belief that humans were created by God to hold dominion over all other species, and use them for whatever purposes they choose. It’s hard to do that when pesky activists are willing to put their freedom on the line to challenge that dominion.

If we begin to look at this Green Scare as exactly that– a moral war influenced by religion– it takes on even stronger parallels to the Red Scare. I visited the new National Portrait Gallery this weekend (highly recommended if you haven’t gone) and a few quotations on the walls of the presidential gallery caught my attention. I tracked down one of them (or a variation, perhaps).

Replace “communism” with “environmentalism” or “animal rights activists” and tell me if I’m just imagining things:

Our religious faith gives us the answer to the false beliefs of Communism… I have the feeling that God has created us and brought us to our present position of power and strength for some great purpose.

President Harry Truman, Public Papers of the President of the United States: Harry S. Truman – 1951 U.S. Gov. 1966 pp548-549

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