Jewish World Review Dec. 16, 2004 / 4 Teves, 5765

Thomas Sowell

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Green bigots international

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | First they destroyed the gasoline station, so that you have to drive miles out of your way to get gas. Then they destroyed a parking lot. Now they want to destroy a dam and a reservoir that supplies more than 2 million people with water.


No, these are not al-Qaeda terrorists. These are our own home-grown fanatics — and the places mentioned are all in Yosemite National Park.


They call themselves environmentalists but a more accurate term would be green bigots. What makes someone a bigot is that he wishes to deny other people the same rights he has. That is the hallmark of the environmental zealot.


Green bigots operate internationally, just like the more famous fanatics. They are trying to stop a hydroelectric dam from being built in Uganda and they have already succeeded in getting "nature preserves" created in various parts of Africa — which is to say, vast amounts of land where Africans are forbidden to hunt for food because the green bigots prefer keeping the land "natural."


African economist James Skikwati in Kenya put the case against affluent Western environmental extremists very plainly when he said, "wealthy countries want the Earth to be green, the underdeveloped want the Earth fed." He asked: "What gives the developed nations the right to make choices for the poor?"


A hydroelectric dam in Uganda would bring electricity to millions of Africans but it would also annoy the delicate sensibilities of environmentalists in Berkeley who like waterfalls.


By and large, the green bigots use politics, nuisance lawsuits, and physical obstruction, rather than violence, but some of them do not hesitate to booby-trap trees, threatening those who cut them down with injury or death. And they use the media to spin their party line.

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A recent newspaper story — headlined "Renaissance at Yosemite" — refers to new restrictions on people who visit Yosemite National Park, created at the urging of environmentalist groups. "The fight to get people out of cars and onto bikes and buses has been won after years of bitter wrangling," the story says.


If people wanted to get out of their cars and onto bikes and buses, they could have done this at any time and without any wrangling. We are talking about green bigots forcing millions of visitors to Yosemite to do what the green bigots want, rather than what the visitors themselves want.


Such ego trips by coteries of self-exalting people are treated in the media as idealism, rather than the petty tyranny it is.


Making it a hassle to drive a car in Yosemite means letting the green bigots regiment visitors in buses. Instead of going where you want to go, when you want to go there, you will go where the park bureaucracy wants to take you.


When you are in your own car, you can stop and get out to walk around when you see something you like, or just go to the bathroom when you need to. When you are regimented in buses, you can go only when and where the bus schedule permits. For young children and the elderly especially, this can turn what could be an enjoyable experience into needless stress.


The last thing you can expect to learn from most media accounts of the activities of green bigots is an account of other people's objections to their power grabs.


Instead, there is a whole vocabulary of misleading words used to paper over and sugar coat the plain fact that green bigots feel entitled to impose their vision at the cost of other people's rights. Thus it is called a "renaissance" to lose your right to choose what you want to do in Yosemite.


There is never a lack of excuses when people want to boss other people around. There are lots of vague and lofty words about a "fragile" or "sensitive" environment — but ask the green bigots for concrete criteria by which we can determine whether a particular environment is or is not "fragile" or "sensitive."


Then ask for hard evidence. You are not likely to get any.


The story about the "renaissance" in Yosemite speaks of the new changes as having "restored" the Merced River. I have watched the Merced River flowing and cascading through Yosemite for more than 20 years without seeing anything that needed to be "restored."


Maybe honesty needs to be restored.

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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, "Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One." (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) To comment please click here.

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© 2004, Creators Syndicate