Let’s Go Extinct!

by John Derbyshire

Last week’s Radio Derb opined on the crazy environmentalist gunman who took hostages at Discovery Channel HQ, thus:

If disliking your own country isn’t wacky enough, here’s a guy who dislikes the entire human race.

Here was a guy, I mean: James Jay Lee was shot dead by a police sniper while waving a handgun at hostages he’d taken in the Discovery Channel’s headquarters building, which is in Silver Spring, Maryland. He left behind an online manifesto in which he said, amongst other things, quote: “Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what’s left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture,” end quote.

Such opinions are not as rare as you might think. There is actually an organization called the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement whose program is, and I quote here from their website at vhemt.org, quote: “Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth’s biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense.” End quote.

Now please don’t think I am slandering the good folk at VHEMT by association with James Lee. They want the human race to move towards extinction in a peaceful and orderly way by ceasing to breed; he wanted to speed the process along some with a handgun and some home-made explosive devices. They’re both out at the furthest end of the environmentalist spectrum; but the VHEMT people are sane … or at least, sane-ish, while Lee was plainly as crazy as a coot … though why that rather nondescript-looking waterfowl should be the archetype of craziness, I have never understood.

It ought to be a well-established principle that you can’t deduce anything at all from a lone act of insanity, but when you have an axe to grind, the temptation can be irresistible. Thus the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has done such a wonderful job of alleviating poverty among its own board members — Morris Dees, the SPLC Director, pays himself well north of $300,000 a year — the SPLC noted gleefully that James Lee belonged to that splinter group of environmentalists who think that mass immigration is bad for the environment, and therefore people who want restrictions on immigration must be crazy hostage-taking gunmen. I think that was the argument.

Then David Klinghoffer at the Discovery Institute, a creationist think-tank, chimed in with the observation that James Lee seems to have believed in the preposterous and utterly discredited theories of Charles Darwin, along with fellow Darwinists Charles Manson, Mao Tse-tung, Joseph Stalin, Josef Mengele, and of course Adolf Hitler. That doesn’t quite compute. Wouldn’t a Darwinist wish for his species to be successful, not go extinct? But no doubt the Discovery Institute people can discover a response to that.

Be interesting to see who else tries to squeeze some propaganda mileage out of this nutcase. According to his online manifesto, Lee was not merely an immigration restrictionist and a Darwinist, but also a pacifist. Quote: “All programs promoting war and the technology behind those should cease.” So perhaps we should be fingering Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa here as well as ol’ Chuck Darwin.

Oh, and look at this one, item number four on his manifesto, quote: “Civilization must be exposed for the filth it is.” I thought that Avatar movie already took care of that, but perhaps James Lee didn’t get round to seeing it.