The other N-word, &c.

Al Gore


Just about the cheapest, and commonest, thing you can do is call someone a Nazi. It is almost never justified. But I have recently read of an interesting case.

First, a little background. Several years ago, global-warming people started to call their critics “deniers.” That is a clear, nasty parallel to “Holocaust deniers.” Environmental activists have long liked to use the language of Nazism and the Holocaust (as virtually everyone does, really).

In an op-ed piece for the New York Times in 1989, Al Gore warned of “an environmental holocaust without precedent.” That piece was headed “An Ecological Kristallnacht. Listen.” Gore wrote, “Once again, world leaders waffle, hoping the danger will dissipate. Yet today the evidence is as clear as the sounds of glass shattering in Berlin.”

Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, along with the U.N. global-warming panel (the IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Let me quote from Peace, They Say, my history of the peace prize:

Skeptics or critics were called “deniers,” in a parallel to “Holocaust deniers.” Gore is one who regularly uses this term. A reporter for America’s most important television news program, 60 Minutes, was asked why he did not include skeptics or dissenters in his global-warming reports. The reporter, Scott Pelley, said, “If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?”

Okay, the recent and interesting case I mentioned. At the Daily Caller, I saw the headline “Climate scientist will say ‘global warming Nazis’ until they drop ‘denier’ label.” What an interesting move, or counterpunch. The article began,

Former NASA scientist Dr. Roy Spencer is sick of being labeled a global warming ‘denier’ by politicians and environmentalists. So sick of it, in fact, that he’s going to start calling detractors “global warming Nazis” until he is no longer called a “denier.”

You know, I’m usually not one for tit-for-tat. We have to rise above, etc. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But I don’t know: I like Dr. Spencer’s spirit, and even, in a way, his idea. This “denier” thing has been a nasty offense for a long time.

I realize I quoted from Peace, They Say, in yesterday’s column, too. Sorry about that! (The Nobel Peace Prize, it do come up.)

Ike’s Tree was the most famous tree in golf. I spoke of it on a podcast with Mona Charen last week. The tree was on the 17th hole of Augusta National, the home of the Masters, in Augusta, Ga. Why was it called “Ike’s Tree”?

Eisenhower was a member of the club from 1948 until his death in 1969. He loved golf, and he loved Augusta National. He did not love that tree on the 17th hole. It interfered with his tee shot, and it interfered with everybody’s.

One day in 1956, when he was president, he raised the issue at a club meeting. The tree should be removed, he said. According to most versions of the story, the club chairman, Cliff Roberts, told the president he was out of order, and that was that. The tree stayed.

And, with loving irony, it was known ever after as “Ike’s Tree,” or “the Eisenhower tree.”

The thing was felled by an ice storm — a rare occurrence in Georgia — the other week. So, R.I.P. And here’s the point I want to make:

Augusta National would be the last place most people would think of as democratic. It has been criticized, and reviled, for its admissions policies, among other things. But what could be more democratic than a golf course, a private club, telling the president of the United States, who had won World War II, to stuff it?

Throughout all history, rulers and leaders have gotten their way. They have certainly gotten their way on such piddly issues as tree removal. But here, in this democratic country? Sorry, Ike.

There is a lot wrong with this country, but, blessedly, a lot right with it, too.