Planet Gore

From the Archives: Earth Day

An Op-Ed classic from Russell Baker on “Earth Day” from the New York Times, April 21, 1990. An excerpt:

If good sense were involved here, of course I would be against Earth Day, for the simple reason that practically everybody else is for it. When you find something being supported by practically everybody, watch your step.

Anything that isn’t opposed by about 40 percent of humanity is either an evil business or so unimportant that it simply doesn’t matter. In the first category I list the Tonkin Gulf resolution, approved by every member of the Senate but two, which President Johnson later used to justify full-scale war in Vietnam.

The second category (simply doesn’t matter) is probably where Earth Day belongs. It’s a media event, which is to say a public-relations stunt for the folks of P.R. World.

Another good reason for opposing it is that it’s a feel-good stunt. A day spent praising the earth and lamenting man’s pollutionist history makes you feel like a superior, sensitive soul.

You enjoy the smug warmth of feeling like one of the good guys, and it doesn’t cost you a cent, which, as George (”Read My Lips”) Bush realizes, you’re probably too cheap to pay. It’s the kind of thing we do beautifully here in P.R. World: inconsequentiality.


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