Land Rights Letter's February, 1993 report on the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) provided a window on some of the high–level planning and unprecedented financial resources behind environmentalist attacks on private citizens they deem to be a “threat” to the environmentalist cultural and political agenda for America.
The report on Debra Callahan's “wise use” session at the Oct. 1992 EGA conference illustrated how environmentalist leaders acknowledge to themselves the nature of the grass roots revolt they have themselves provoked – even while they continue to systematically smear those who dare to speak out against them: If you have the courage to protest a preservationist landgrab, you are automatically accused of all sorts of ulterior motives ranging from accusations of “fronts for the Moonies” to dark allegations of “corporate interests” out to destroy the planet – anything to deflect attention away from the issues. The environmentalist movement's agenda and methods cannot survive open discussion.
But there is more: Callahan's “wise use” session at the October EGA Conference al so outlined a proposed multipoint strategy for how they should contend with their grass roots opposition. This session, as well as segments from some of the others, reveal in an unusually explicit manner how environmentalists think in terms of a military–like campaign to destroy or at least “neutralize” those in their way as they attempt to force American life to conform to the environmentalist vision.
The strategies proposed against the grass roots rebellion can be grouped into several categories: personal attacks, organizing and funding, philosophy of anti–economics, and the private property “takings” issue. Many of the strategies discussed at the conference have already become apparent and are not new; others suggestwhat to watch for. Some are broad principles; others are narrow and specific or temporal in nature.
First, here is Callahan's outline of a proposed strategy against “wise use”.
- “First of all, tell the conservation story. Describe the victories, talk about how the environmental movement has improved people's lives. Use human interest. Give – people perceive environmentalism aa being theoretical – give it a human face, you know, the same thing politicians do. They always tell stories about, you know, Joe Mahoney and his community, you know, blah blah.”
- “We have to redefine the term Federal lands to mean public lands. Federal is government. Federal is bad. Public is all of us, it's a concept that we need to push. Theselandsthatareatstake belong to all of us.”
- “Identify our opponents and how they're ripping off America. They are the public interest. A fine example of this is the 1872 Mining Act where landis getting sold off at $2.50 an acre to these people so they can go extract a lot of value out of it and not giving a lot back to the public purse.”
- “Fourth, we need to side with the mainstream. We're not the radicals. And thatis probably the most critical message for us to take away from this; we don't want people to be jobless, and we don't believe it has to happen, but we need to work towards that goal and address environmental economic concerns simultaneously.” [The PR “message” is not to be mistaken for the goal, which she had revealed earlier: “How do you say to someone, no, I don't want you tohave your job?”] Later she would remind her audience, “Like someone said a long time ago when John McPhee said in conversations with the Arch–Druid, thank god for David Brower because he makes the rest of us look moderate. You know. Somebody's out there, it makes the rest of us look like we're moderates.”
- “We need to engage in coalition building with working people, farmers, sports people, main stream religious denominations – and that's critical because they are, are in their elitist messages saying that we're not Christian, we're pagans, we're cow worshipers, blah blah blah. And in fact we worked in coalitions on toxic spills on the Clean Air Act and a Jot of really important legislation with lobbyists side by side from main stream religious organizations. We need to pull these groups in to help us in this fight on wise use because they are our best defense because in fact religious organizations do support a strong environmental agenda very often.”
- “Third [sic], attack wise use. They're aggressive in our direction and we need to be aggressive back. Now I don't mean constantly engaging in negative campaigning because we have a real knee–jerk reaction to that, and in fact probably rightly so. But we need to find the ideological divisions in the wise use movement and exploit them.”
- “Why are ranchers and miners in a coalition together? They have very different interests. But in the wise use movement they work together.”
- “Wise use versus wise use. A lot of these groups hate each other. A lot of these leaders really are fighting for the microphone. The Farm Bureau says they won't have anything to do with Ron Arnold because they believe he's extreme. Grant Gerber thinks that investigators, has actually suggested to certain investigators that they should investigate Ron Arnold and hell give 'em everything he's got to help them with their investigation. These people don't get along very well in terms of internals.”
- “Wise use versus labor – because if this is a jobs issue, again who's better addressed the jobs issue than the labor community, than the working class, than working people. And wise use, part of its agenda is the dismantlement sometimes – certain organizations – of OSHA laws, of worker protection laws. When you get into the takings issue, part of what's at stake here is industry's regulation and for worker safety, so there's some really important hooks that we can talk with these communities about and try and find some wedge issues at least neutralize them if not bring them over to our side.”
- “We need to reveal the extreme positions of the wise use movement, talk about the wise use agenda. We need to expose the links between wise use and other extremists: the Unification Church, the John Birch Society, Lyndon LaRouche.” [This, despite her acknowledgment that the revolt against environmentalism “is really a local movement driven by primarily local concerns” and “we have come to the conclusion that this is pretty much generally a grass roots movement, which is a problem, because it means there's no silver bullet.” (LRL 2/93)]
- “We need to talk about the foreign influences in the wise use movement. There's a lot of Japanese motorcycle industry money in the wise use movement. And I don't think mainstream Americans want Honda and Yamasaki [sic] to be talking, to be dictating public lands policy. I mean I think that really drives the heart of the sort of nationalism that you're seeing showing up in polls that's popular right now in middle America,”
- “We need to re–invigorate the grass roots, which is critical... and we need to facilitate the communication of information among all of us.”
No, they are not nice people. This one segment alone reveals the calculated dishonesty and Orwellian double–speak: The cynical attempt to “give environmentalism a human face” – like politicians do “blah blah.” Federal control and acquisition equated to “these lands belong to all of us.” Straw man examples to misrepresent privatizations as “ripping off America.” “Attack wise use.” Divide and conquer. Manipulate differing economic interests to fight each other. Misrepresent property rights as threats to “worker safety” to “neutralize” labor. Smear opponents as “extremists” to dodge discussion of principles and issues. Redefine the vocabulary to manipulate thought. Manipulate personal ties. Politicize organized religion. Accuse “foreign influence.” The Moonies. Extremists. The John Birch Society. Lyndon LaRouche. Attack. Link. Incite nationalist emotions.
Old Joe McCarthy had nothing on this crew – an odd starting point for a group that strategizes on how to “capture the high ground.”
Copyright © 1993 Erich Veyhl and Land Rights Letter. All Rights Reserved
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