I HAVE RAISED A SWEET, THOUGHTFUL, ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS MONSTER—AND SOON I WILL BE FREE: Glenn already linked to the jaw-dropping article titled “Bidding My College-Bound Son Good Riddance,” written by a veteran Bay Area journalist/environmentalist activist last night, but it’s worth another look for a variety of reasons.
First, modern-day radical environmentalism isn’t that modern anymore — RFK ran on doomsday environmental ads in 1968, and the first “Earth Day” in 1970 was chockablock full of nightmare predictions that never came to pass. As Fred Siegel wrote in 2010 at City Journal in “Progressives Against Progress,” as a result of Earth Day and the like:
Crankery, in short, became respectable. In 1972, Sir John Maddox, editor of the British journal Nature, noted that though it had once been usual to see maniacs wearing sandwich boards that proclaimed the imminent end of the Earth, they had been replaced by a growing number of frenzied activists and politicized scientists making precisely the same claim.
And beginning in 1970 with Walter Cronkite and CBS, environmentalist crankery has been very much approved by Big Business for decades. In 2007, GE, which makes a considerable amount of money selling light bulbs, urged its customers for the sake of Gaia to turn off the lights in their homes via the TV network it owned at the time – during halftime of a Sunday night Cowboys-Eagles NFL game whose stadium was bathed in a zillion watts of klieg lights. A couple of years later, American Express was praising would-be California “Dam Busters,” AKA, the people who helped bring you California’s current water crisis. In 2009, James Lileks linked to the following jaw-dropping MasterCard ad:
If they’d intimated that Mastercard can be used to placate your humorless little eco-scold, no one would have minded much. But no: the child is making his father a better man. It’s nice to see that Dad exists in a state of such unearthly perfection that the only means of betterment consist of abjuring incandescent lighting for pig-tailed CFLs, right? Alas: dad is a scoff-law who lets the tap run, uses doubleplus ungood bulbs, and doesn’t correct the clerk when the food is put in a cornstarch bag, perhaps because he’s thinking about his job, the cutbacks and layoffs, the tiresome daily scrum of adult life. He works hard, but of course he could work harder – he has a part-time job so he can stay at home with his son. Mom’s full-time. He downshifted so someone would always be there when Ethan came home from school. This makes him an okay man, I guess.
But he could be better. He could buy a florescent bulb. On credit.
If I had a Mastercard, I’d print this ad out frame by frame and sent it along with my shredded card.
Afterwards, Lileks embedded a frame from the film version of 1984, in which early on in the movie, a nine-year old uniformed “Youth League” member whose father works alongside Winston in the Ministry of Truth blurts out to Winston, “You’re a thought criminal!” Later in the book, after his sister turns in dad for being a thought criminal, he and Winston sit in the white porcelain abattoir-like Ministry of Love awaiting their fates. As dad ponders how many years in a prison camp he faces, he’s proud that he raised that he raised such a good little citizen of Oceania!
‘It was my little daughter,’ said Parsons with a sort of doleful pride. ‘She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? I don’t bear her any grudge for it. In fact I’m proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway.’
How many parents allow their kids to hector them over environmentalist minutia without reminding them who is in charge of the family? Even if you do, how do you raise a kid knowing that they’ll be sent off to school where they’ll hear endless variations of Al Gore-style eco-crankery from their teachers? And assuming you don’t personally buy into the corporatist mantra that “we only have [fill in number of years] to save the planet” — or eco-doomsday is sure to follow — how does a parent counteract such programming?