Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
A Greenpeace activist thinks ‘the world would be a better place’ without a journalist who questions climate orthodoxy. Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, he says we’d ‘solve a great deal of the world’s problems by chopping off everyone’s heads.’
This week marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. When I toured that death camp in late 2013, its enormous size was difficult to absorb. Row upon row of barracks. Barbed wire stretching into the distance, fence post after fence post. (According to this article, the three-part complex includes 150 structures, 300 ruins, and 450 acres.)
1.1 million people were murdered in Auschwitz over a period of five years. Children. Seniors. Women. Men. Jews. Political dissidents. Intellectuals. Gypsies. Gays.
Everyone employed at Auschwitz needed some sort of internal explanation – a narrative that justified their actions. You don’t show up for work every morning and gas children and old people to death without having a story in your head that makes sense of your behaviour. You’ve obviously convinced yourself that this isn’t really murder, that your victims deserve it.
They’re scum. Vermin. The world would be better off without them. Yes, we humans can talk ourselves into anything.
Auschwitz is a grim reminder that some ideas and attitudes are dangerous. Contempt, scorn, venom – not to mention fervour about a new, improved tomorrow – lead to dark places.
Which brings us to environmental activism. As economist Richard Tol writes today in an essay titled Radical Greens, polarization and intolerance are a hallmark of contemporary environmental discussions. While climate warriors stopped being civil long ago, he says, “we seem to be entering a new level of radicalisation.”
Tol points to an article published by the UK Guardian last week. The author, Dana Nuccitelli, argued that people who hold opinions that differ from his own – such as journalist Matt Ridley – are propagating climate change myths. Like zombies, he says, these myths keep rising from the dead.
The Guardian chose to illustrate Nuccitelli’s piece with a grisly photograph that was hardly conducive to calm, rational debate:
Five days later, the newspaper swapped in a different photograph. In the meantime, Gary Evans, a self-described environmental scientist, former Greenpeace project manager, and current Greenpeace translator (who often hides behind the pseudonyms Bluecloud and Bluecloud Nine), asked in the comments below the article:
Should that not be Ridley’s severed head in the photo?
Shortly afterward, he declared:
We would actually solve a great deal of the world’s problems by chopping off everyone’s heads…Ask yourself a simple question: Would the world be a better place without Matt Ridley? Need I answer that question?
This is how people associated with Greenpeace see the world. These are the sentiments they’re unashamed to utter in public. In Tol’s words:
When challenged, [Evans] repeated the call, and again. People who questioned the wisdom of these remarks were attacked or banned. The Guardian actively moderates its comments, but even though Gary Evans’ calls to behead Matt Ridley caused a bit of a stir, it took the editors 32 hours to realize that death threats against political opponents is not really how we like to do things in Britain nowadays.
Killing a distinguished journalist would make the world “a better place.” Mass murder would solve problems.
How does this differ from what took place at Auschwitz?
Read Richard Tol’s full essay here