Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
One of the newest additions to our choir of sober-second-thought is a blog titled Haunting the Library. I love its habit of digging up old news clippings that add important historical context to some of our current debates.
A recent post, The Thoughts of Chairman Ted, turns its attention to Ted Turner, the chairman of the United Nations Foundation. Last month I reported on his disturbing comments in Cancun, in which he advocated the export of China’s brutal and coercive one-child policies. Haunting the Library makes it clear Turner’s remarks were not taken out-of-context or misunderstood.
Indeed, Turner seems to admire China rather inordinately – going so far as to make excuses for its Tiananmen Square crackdown by comparing it to the 1970 Kent State tragedy. So a 13-second incident that claimed 4 lives and wounded 9 others – which was documented and condemned by a free press – is placed on the same moral plane as a deliberate and extended government offensive that killed hundreds (perhaps thousands).
Twenty years later we still don’t know how many people died at Tiananmen Square, since China’s media is state-controlled and therefore no independent reporting – or investigation – was permitted. What we do know is that tanks were used to murder peaceful protesters, that family members of protesters were hunted down, and that those who sympathized with the protesters paid dearly by being purged from their jobs and political positions. The two incidents are in no way comparable. The idea that an influential person at the United Nations thinks they are should give us all pause.
Another great Haunting the Library post delves into the pages of The Ecologist magazine. Titled Ecologist Magazine: Using Machines Is “Morally Comparable” With Slavery, this post begins by focusing on a recent Ecologist article. But some of the historical material the post highlights is even more alarming.
In 1975, The Ecologist ran a long editorial applauding the genocidal policies of the Cambodian political movement known as the Khmer Rouge. According to The Ecologist, the forcible eviction-at-gunpoint of ordinary people from urban centers (including yanking the desperately sick out of their hospital beds) was an admirable thing to do. That editorial, titled The City is Dead, talked about “humanity’s self-destructive love-affair with the urban economy” and argued that “no one can be free who does not have the time and opportunity to grow his own food.”
The editorial insisted that the fact that New York City was laying off one quarter of its workforce (72,500 people) was proof cities were decaying and doomed. From the perspective of The Ecologist, it is apparently preferable for an anti-urban-political movement to slaughter one in five of a country’s citizens.
Please note: The Ecologist ran another editorial
about mentioning the Khmer Rouge in 1996. Rather than acknowledging its own shameful cheer-leading, it chose instead to denounce other people’s alleged sins:
Together with the US, Britain helped to legitimize the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s and early 1980s, following their genocide of over one million people in Cambodia, by continuing to recognize at the United Nations the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia. [p. 204]
It is said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The archives of The Ecologist supply us with plenty of evidence that many green activists are hardcore leftists in search of a mechanism by which they can impose their political vision on everyone else. (See also this post.)
We would be naive to ignore this component of the environmental movement. Some of these people are extremists. Their ideas would take us to murderous places. And I can assure you that our children and grandchildren (about whom the greens incessantly claim to be concerned) would not thank us for leaving them a world ruled by admirers of the Khmer Rouge.
Here’s to Haunting the Library! May it continue to shine light on our too-soon-forgotten history.