"How can ANYONE take this man seriously?" writes Marilyn, a frequent reader of our Center for Vision Values articles.
Attached to Marilyn's email was this headline, "Gore compares climate change fight to war against Nazis." As the accompanying article noted, Al Gore, speaking at the World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment in Oxford, warned his audience–mostly British–of the imperative to confront climate change, as Britain and the Allies once battled Hitler.
"The former U.S. vice president said the world lacked the political will to act," reported the London Times, "and invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill by encouraging leaders to unite their nations to fight climate change."
Fancying himself a contemporary Churchill, Gore sounded the clarion call, declaring that the essential missing ingredient is courage and commitment. Like the brave Sir Winston in those ominous days of the Battle of Britain, Gore stoically exhorted: "We have everything we need, except political will."
As for those pusillanimous appeasers who cover their eyes to the need for urgent action? Presumably, they are modern Neville Chamberlains, appeasing the evil of global warming, just as history's Great Appeaser placated Hitler.
Predictably, Al Gore's extremist proclamations were largely ignored by the mainstream press that tragically serves as educator-in-chief to most Americans. This isn't the kind of headline deemed newsworthy by Katie Couric and CBS News.
That brings me back to Marilyn's email: How can anyone take this man seriously? Well, the fact is we've done just that for almost 20 years. Believe it or not, Gore stated precisely these things in his 1992 international bestseller Earth in the Balance. What Al Gore said in London last week is no different from what he has said–and gotten away with–for decades.
Consider some passages from Gore's 1992 manifesto:
In one of the many deeply disturbing passages in a deeply disturbing book, Gore hailed ecological activists as "resistance fighters" and "people of conscience" engaging in a just war akin to the World War II resistance that fought the Nazis.
That thought alone is incredibly offensive, especially in what it implies of those who reject Gore's environmental prescriptions. In particular, however, the parallel is a grave injustice to those who suffered under the Nazis. Jews ought to be outraged. Gore's moral equivalency reveals a breathtaking lack of historical measure–odd for a man who writes on the triumph of "reason."
Gore's Nazi metaphors are ubiquitous in Earth in the Balance. Warning of an "environmental holocaust," Gore exhorted: "Today the evidence of an ecological Kristallnacht is as clear as the sound of glass shattering in Berlin." Gore asserted that America's consumption of resources is reminiscent of Germany's descent into fascism.
As if his Nazi analogies weren't aggressive enough, the Nobel Peace Prize winner envisioned "a kind of global civil war between those who refuse to consider the consequences of civilization's relentless advance and those who refuse to be silent partners in the destruction."
Yes, that's right: a "global civil war."
Consequently, Gore urged, the rescue of the environment must become the "central organizing principle" of all societies and modern civilization. This will require not just sacrifice and struggle but "a wrenching transformation of society."
Al Gore prophesied nothing short of environmental Armageddon, an apocalypse, and called for a crusade. The word crusade, in this case, had religious connotations, in contrast to when FDR, Eisenhower, or Reagan called for "crusades" for freedom.
Indeed, it is rarely recalled that Earth in the Balance carried the instructive subtitle, Ecology and the Human Spirit. This environmental manifesto was a sort of spiritual autobiography by Gore, his epistle to Mother Nature, his adoration of the Earth. This is evident in the chapter, "Environmentalism of the Spirit," where Gore insisted that the "environmental crisis" demands "a new faith in the future of life on earth."
So, in short, Al Gore's remarks in London are nothing new.
In a just world, or at least, in an America where "journalists" provided objective news coverage, these Al Gore absurdities would have been exposed long ago, and this man would have never gotten close to the vice presidency let alone the presidency. Of course, that's why journalists never touched them, in the hopes that Gore's scary statements would never see the light of day–or of television cameras.
What's even scarier is that a majority of Americans took this man seriously enough to vote him president in 2000. We dodged that bullet, but Al Gore's dream lives on with sudden renewed vigor, as the most leftist president and Congress in American history stand poised to make it a reality. ("Cap-and-trade" is the first shot in their environmental salvo.)
At long last, Al Gore's "wrenching transformation" may be upon us, courtesy of Americans' choices at the voting booth.
Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision Values at Grove City College. His books include The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.