Don Imus’s firing for remarks about the Rutgers’s women’s basketball team has opened a new debate about what comments in public discourse are forgivable. Many are pointing out that rappers and others have said much worse and were not drummed out of public life.
But Imus’s insensitive remarks pale especially in comparison to disparaging comments and cruel recommendations made time and again by leaders of environmental groups.
Here are some outrageous and racist comments by greens, many of whom are considered “mainstream” and revered by the media. These statements are compiled and documented in my book "Eco-Freaks: Environmentalism Is Hazardous to Your Health."
See if you think anyone else, say a right-wing talk show host, could get away with making these cruel and disparaging statements.
John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club:
Muir said American Indians are “mostly ugly, and some of them altogether hideous.” They “seemed to have no right place in the landscape,” he continued. Muir is still honored without qualification on the Sierra Club web site, which proclaims, “John Muir is as relevant today as he was over 100 years ago.”
Paul Ehrlich, influential “overpopulation” guru and professor of population studies at Stanford University:
In his best-selling book, "The Population Bomb," Ehrlich called for all men in India who had three or more children to be forcibly sterilized. He also scorned those who helped to feed the Third World’s hungry, blasting them as “the assorted do-gooders who are deeply involved in the apparatus of international food charity.”
Charles Wurster, co-founder and former chief scientist of Environmental Defense Fund (now Environmental Defense):
When asked about human deaths that would result from the banning of DDT, due to exposure to more acutely toxic DDT substitutes, Wurster allegedly said, “It doesn’t really make a lot of difference because the organophosphate acts locally and only kills farm workers, and most of them are Mexicans and Negroes.” Wurster was accused of saying this by EDF co-founder Victor Yannacone, and the accusation was reported at a Congressional hearing. Wurster denied making the statement, but Yannacone — a prominent environmental attorney — has never taken back his accusation against Wurster.
Alexander King, co-founder of the Club of Rome:
In an essay in a book called "The Discipline of Curiosity," King wrote that DDT’s main problem was that it worked too well at saving Third World lives. “In Guyana, within almost two years, it had almost eliminated malaria, but at the same time the birth rate had doubled. So my chief quarrel with DDT in hindsight is that it greatly added to the population problem.”
Jeff Hoffman, poster on popular environmental news site Grist.org:
Arguing against efforts to resume DDT use to combat malaria in Africa, Hoffman explained, “Malaria was actually a natural population control, and DDT has caused a massive population explosion in some places where it has eradicated malaria.”
Don Imus has taken a lot of grief for his inappropriate remarks, but the media have yet to hold environmentalists like these individuals accountable for their pattern of vicious and bigoted comments. The worst part is that unlike Imus, the ill will of many environmentalists toward minorities and humans in general has been allowed to influence destructive public policy decisions, such as the DDT ban that has resulted in 2 million people a year dying in Africa from mosquito-borne malaria that DDT could prevent.
It’s time that environmentalists be called on the carpet, like others are for far less offensive statements, when they make these horrible remarks about disadvantaged groups. Loving the planet should never be an excuse for making hateful comments and recommendations concerning its people.