How much opportunity, one wonders, has been lost in political disagreement over the years since Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, earned his standing as the first environmentalist president. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, also a Republican, signed legislation establishing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Richard M. Nixon signed into law the bill creating the Environmental Protection Agency. But increasingly, by Nixon's time, it was becoming necessary for a self-proclaimed environmentalist to wear an anti-establishment hat.
That's in part because Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., who founded Earth Day in 1970, set out consciously to harness the energy of the anti-war generation on behalf of the environment. With that energy came a powerful theme of leftist, anti-business ideology that in time equated pollution with conservatives, commerce and Republicans.
To be sure, the image promoted by the leftmost fringes of the environmental movement has more than a kernel of truth. Some people who are indifferent to the environment are indeed political conservatives and decision-makers in industry, just as some leftists are so deeply immersed in class warfare or multiculturalism that they have no room for concern for the least tern and the piping plover.
Yet one wonders, over the years, how many political conservatives who admired the environmental work of, say, the Sierra Club nonetheless felt unwelcome because of that organization's partisan rhetoric. And on the broader scale, how much has the environmental movement harmed the environmentalist cause by aligning too closely with the left, thereby shutting out a key segment of the potentially interested population?
Ooohh, how nice - a history lesson and a partisan slap in the face all wrapped up in one. Note the outright dismissal of the entire environmentalist agenda as extremist and on the leftist fringe, as if there were no difference between the Sierra Club and ELF (Earth Liberation Front).
This is just sloppy and insulting. It writes off every sin against the environment as a failure of those doing their best to protect it, taking no responsibility for the Republican Party, the Chamber of Commerce, and - yes - the Omaha World-Herald's placing of business interests over environmental concerns at every opportunity. These are not potential partners who are simply looking for an even shake and a strong argument where the environment is concerned. Too often, these are avowed enemies of the natural world with no regard for the facts whenever they stand in the way of corporate profit.
Does the OWH even consider that it is not the environmentalists who have placed corporations in opposition to the environment? The corporations have done so themselves. Environmentalists are notoriously reflexive. They push back when they see ol' Mother Nature being pushed around, but they're not the ones choosing the battles. The battles are chosen for them whenever greed is being used as justification to gut the world's resources.
In that same vein, environmentalists have not chosen their friends. One party has largely stood up for their interests, while the other has stood opposed. One party has listened, paying more than lip-service, while the other has offered lies like the "Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests" initiatives. Wishing it were otherwise simply would not make it so - no matter the amazing lengths to which the OWH proves willing to stretch its editors' feeble logic.
Amazing. They take good news - a political union that could have untold upside for all involved - and then exploit it to make an unconscionably one-sided attack. Like the devil telling the world he does not exist, it seems the World-Herald has learned the easiest way to cover its own partisan trespasses is to scream the evils of partisanship loudest at all those it seeks to destroy.
Is it the reflection of their own misdeeds or is it the truth itself for which they hold so much contempt?