01 Apr 2002 The Radical Spectrum: Environmentalists Push the Envelope to Push Their Cause
While most of America came together after September 11, the political fringe remains at odds with the rest of society. Our new realities, however, make it easier to spot their extremism.
Take, for example, Karen Davis. Davis is president of the animal rights group United Poultry Concerns (UPC). She’s leading a campaign against the California fast-food chain Carl’s Jr., which serves chicken strips, because the company’s television ads portray a group of restaurant executives examining a chicken in search of the “nuggets.” A UPC release likens the farcical examination to rape, proclaiming “the ad portrays chickens in a degrading and demeaning manner.”1
But Davis doesn’t stop at farce. In a letter to Vegan Voice magazine, Davis expressed utter contempt for the victims of September 11. She wrote: “I think it is speciesist to think that the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center was a greater tragedy than what millions of chickens endured that day and what they endure every day because they cannot defend themselves against the concerted human appetites arrayed against them.”2
Animal rights activists consider “speciesism” as akin to racism, except that it’s human domination over animals.
The most disturbing aspect of the Davis letter is that it was a complaint that the infamous Princeton University ethicist Peter Singer believes it is not speciesist to think the September 11 attack was worse than eating chicken. Singer, who is credited with founding the animal right movement,3 is notorious for his belief that parents should be allowed a 28-day period after birth in which they can choose to kill their children.4 Singer thinks people with debilitating diseases like Down Syndrome, cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer’s lessen the well-being of the rest of humanity, and that their elimination benefits society.5 In her letter, Davis outflanked Singer in her extremism. Now Singer is a moderate.
Animal rights activists are at the fringe of the environmental movement, but the radicalism of “mainstream” environmental groups goes largely unnoticed. An extremist agenda lies behind the “save the planet” mantra.
Global warming is one of the environmental movement’s major issues even though there is no conclusive evidence that mankind’s activities are warming the planet, or that such warming would be harmful. This hasn’t stopped environmental groups from advocating regulations on domestic industries that would raise the average American household’s energy costs by $1,740 per year and throw millions of Americans out of work.6
Environmentalist concerns usually pit man against nature, and man is always the problem. As in the example of Karen Davis and Peter Singer, the cries about faux crises such as global warming gain credibility when they are placed next to more radical activity.
David Brower, the Sierra Club’s first executive director, explained this extremist drift. He told E magazine: “The Sierra Club made the Nature Conservancy look reasonable. Then I founded Friends of the Earth to make the Sierra Club look reasonable. Then I founded Earth Island Institute to make Friends of the Earth look reasonable. Earth First! now makes us look reasonable. We’re still looking for a group to come along and make Earth First! look reasonable.”7
Brower made this statement in 1990, and a more extremist group has come along to “moderate” Earth First! – a group that first gained notoriety for driving spikes into trees to injure loggers. The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is credited with over 30 acts of domestic terrorism costing millions of dollars in damage over the past six years. On September 8, just three days before the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, ELF claimed credit for an arson attack on a McDonald’s restaurant in Tucson, Arizona.8 They encourage firebomb attacks on their web site, and provide a downloadable manual to teach willing followers how to build them.9
Pushing the political envelope helped environmentalists achieve extreme goals by making the extreme look moderate. But, since September 11, the previously accepted radicalism is no longer appropriate. The rest of America has undergone a reality check, and it’s time to use this newfound rationality to craft a sensible and sane environmental policy.
Let’s consider oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to relieve our dependence on foreign oil. Let’s create an endangered species policy that protects both animals and human interests. Those are some real radical ideas that help our nation.
And let’s finally figure out where on a chicken you’d find the nuggets.
David W. Almasi is the executive director of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a non-partisan Washington, D.C. think tank. He can be reached at [email protected].
Footnotes:1 “Offensive Carl’s Jr. Ad Using a Live Chicken,” Press Release,” United Poultry Concerns, Machipongo, Virginia, January 10, 2002, downloaded from http://www.upc-online.org/020110carls_jr_ad.html on February 5, 2002.
2 “An Open Letter to Vegan Voice,” United Poultry Concerns, Machipongo, Virginia,
December 26, 2001, downloaded from http://www.upc-online.org.011226vegan_voice_singer.html on February 1, 2002.
3 Kathleen Marquardt with Herbert M. Levine and Mark LaRochelle, Animalscam: The Beastly Abuse of Human Rights, Regnery Gateway Inc., Washington, DC, 1993, p. 3.
4 Wesley J. Smith, “Peter Singer Gets a Chair,” Front Page, downloaded from http://www.frontpagemag.com/archives/academia/smith10-22-99.htm on February 6, 2002.
5 “Mercy-Killing Advocate No Longer Controversial,” Religion News Service, downloaded from http://www.frontpagemag.com/archives/leftism/mercy_killing06-29-00.htm on February 6, 2002.
6 Representative John Peterson, “Global Warming Policies Could Unfairly Harm Minorities and the Poor,” National Policy Analysis #357, The National Center for Public Policy Research, Washington, DC, September 2001.
7 E, January/February 1990 as cited by Ron Arnold and Alan Gottlieb in Trashing the Economy: How Runaway Environmentalism is Wrecking America, Free Enterprise Press, Bellevue, Washington, 1993, p. 484.
8 Tom Randall, “As a Nation Struggles, Domestic Terrorists Brag, National Policy Analysis #368, The National Center for Public Policy Research, Washington, DC, September 2001
9 The official Earth Liberation Front Internet web site featured a downloadable version of the manual “Setting Fires With Electrical Timers: An Earth Liberation Front Guide” as of February 6, 2002.