Friday, April 23, 2010

Colbert report

Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien's chief of staff, Brent Colbert, was all fussed up about Earth Day yesterday.

Why? Because it takes place on V. I. Lenin's birthday--or, for the social-democratic traditionalists, Menshevik leader Alexander Kerensky's? Because its alleged founder (he wasn't) is currently in jail for murder?

None of the above. Here's the Tweet:

Before you wish me a happy earthday they better have studied the shameful past of this ideology eugenics, forced starvation

Naturally a reporter got curious and asked the learned Colbert to explain. Which he did, sort of, in a free-associating kind of way:

"Some of the people who promoted and first started the notion of Earth Day and whatnot go back and follow a history of support for eugenics, support for forced starvation and population control, through government rationing, things like that," Colbert said.

Well, like who?

Asked to name a person or group that is a present-day Earth Day supporter and eugenicist, Colbert said he could not think of one "off the top of my head."

But he enlarged, if that's the right word:

However, he said there was a shared intellectual history between the Earth Day movement and the ideas of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who died in 1966, four years before the first Earth Day.

"She was a eugenicist, believed that the weak and feeble-minded should be bred out of society because they were a drain on the resources of the planet. So there's all that kind of stuff," Colbert said.

He also said that early Earth Day celebrants drew upon the ideas of Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford University professor whose 1968 book The Population Bomb predicted mass starvation as a result of human overpopulation.

"Some of the people (were) talking about the fact that the planet was unsustainable and we'd have to take action to limit populations if we wanted to protect it and whatnot," Colbert said.

Pressed on the point, Colbert insisted there is

still a connection between Earth Day and eugenics. "There are still people that are doing research in terms of the issue of the overpopulation of the planet and things like that and it seems to coalesce around some of the things with Earth Day."

Mayor O'Brien was off planting a tree somewhere. Luckily, he didn't confuse it with his aide-de-camp.

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