Human Exceptionalism

“Man is Not a Cancer On the Planet”

A horticulturist named George Ball writes a piece in the Wall Street Journal.Com warning against the radicalization of environmentalism.  From, “Naturalism Has Been Hijacked: Man is Not a Cancer on the Planet:

Now a segment of the Green movement presents a fresh challenge to mankind’s place within nature. Humans, the thinking goes, are one species among the many, a life form coexisting with others, our rights commensurate with those of snail darters, mosquitoes and coral reefs. The new environmentalist thinking occupies that treacherous terrain between rationality and romanticism. It’s highly logical, too, an all-encompassing equation where everything is equivalent to everything else — communism at a cellular level.

The premise glows with the innocence we forsook when Adam larcenously appropriated an apple from its rightful owner, the tree. This dangerous new unnatural naturalism sees the planet as a realm of halcyon purity. Conversely, mankind is portrayed as a cancer on the planet. Welcome to secular subhumanism. The Earth-Firsters are not fools. There are choice elements in their deranged philosophy that merit consideration; such is the essence of temptation. However, their failure is that they undermine their cause with acts of brutality. Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, a Ph.D. with kindred neo-Luddite views, was one such activist run amok, responsible for dozens of injuries and four deaths. He is a case study of how, contaminated with extreme emotion, logic becomes toxic.

Self-described “evo-lutionaries” and animal-rights activists feel justified in spiking trees, burning down housing developments, vandalizing laboratories and threatening the lives of researchers and their families. By all means save the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, but not at the cost of human lives, no matter how few. That way lies madness.

He’s exactly right, as far as he goes, and I like the turn of phrase “cellular communism.”  But Ball misses the core point, and as a consequence, digs a shallow well. It isn’t “bad tactics” that is the problem with the radicalization of naturalism: It is the movement’s fundamental and fervent rejection of human exceptionalism.  Once you depose us as the unique and special species, it inevitably unleashes a drive to turn people into mere fauna , which leads directly to the self destructive nihilism against which Ball reacts.

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