Politics & Policy

Al Gore’s Horror Theater

Isn't Cars a moral outrage?

The No. 1 movie in America today is a fun, family-friendly romp of a cartoon about sending Jews to the gas chamber.

Just kidding.

It’s actually the movie Cars by Pixar. But according to some people, there’s not much difference. Indeed, the No. 1 movie in the hearts of liberals and environmentalists is An Inconvenient Truth, starring Al Gore, a man who believes that the threat posed by the internal combustion engine is not only the gravest peril mankind faces, but that defeating it is a moral imperative equal to stopping the Holocaust.

Gore is both serious and consistent on this point. In his 1992 book Earth in the Balance, he wrote that “today the evidence of an ecological Kristallnacht is as clear as the sound of glass shattering in Berlin.” He repeatedly refers to the unfolding “ecological holocaust” and invokes Martin Niemoller’s famous quote (“When the Nazis came for the Communists, I remained silent; I was not a Communist. … When they came for the Jews, I did not speak out; I was not a Jew. …”) to label himself and other environmentalists “the new resistance.”

In An Inconvenient Truth and in interviews, Gore sticks to his guns. He quotes Churchill’s warning about the gathering storm of fascism and declares: “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequence.”

In interviews, Gore calls global-warming skeptics “deniers” with an acid surely intended to conjure comparison to Holocaust deniers.

Of course, Gore isn’t alone. The people of good will who raise relevant and sober-minded questions about global-warming scaremongering are subjected to vicious character assassination on a daily basis. Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes recently asked why he should interview skeptics of the new environmental groupthink: “If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?”

There’s no need to revisit the arguments about the science of global warming. Let’s give Gore et al. the benefit of the doubt and stipulate that they’re right about their worst-case scenario hysteria. Let’s also give them the benefit of the doubt that they actually believe global warming is the moral equivalent of the Holocaust.

And if we do this, we must ask: Why on Earth aren’t these people denouncing the movie Cars? Laurie David, a Hollywood environmental activist and producer of An Inconvenient Truth, said that after she saw John Kerry lose to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, “I made a pledge to myself. I’d do everything I could in the next year to permeate pop culture on this issue. My whole thing is to get it off the science page and onto the front page. Get it off PBS and onto TBS.”

Al Gore and his confreres argue time and again that Americans must change their habits and culture to avoid the ecological holocaust. Chief among these changes is for Americans to give up their addiction to driving, or driving “unnecessarily.” Surely a film that teaches young children to love cars is a great moral crime given the supposed moral stakes. Similarly, why isn’t Gore — or anybody else in the Democratic party — denouncing NASCAR? If global warming is the moral equivalent of the Holocaust, aren’t NASCAR races the moral equivalent of corporate-sponsored, televised neo-Nazi rallies? NASCAR creates greenhouse gasses for pure entertainment. Millions of people drive to these races, poisoning the atmosphere, to watch grown men poison the atmosphere even more. Where is the condemnation?

I know I’ll hear from all sorts of angry readers for taking Gore’s position to the extreme. But this has it backwards. I’m merely taking Gore’s extreme position seriously. We have lots of debates over the factual soundness of environmental extremism but nearly none on the moral soundness of environmental extremism. Once you compare a problem to the Holocaust — even remotely — you’ve lost your moral wiggle room. No politician, indeed no responsible person in this country, would endorse a comedic cartoon about genocide, never mind take their kids to it. Give PETA credit. While it repugnantly compares the raising of chickens and cattle to Auschwitz, the organization at least has the courage of its convictions, and protests virtually everything that treats animals as anything less than people.

Environmentalists like Gore who invoke the Holocaust are too afraid to follow through. They want all the credit for denouncing what they consider a moral horror, but they’re unwilling actually to face the real consequences of their rhetoric. I don’t believe global warming is akin to the Holocaust. But if I did, I’d like to think I’d have more courage about it than Gore is showing.

©2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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