December 1, 2014

Evil masterminds behind citizen opposition to evil masterminds

Here’s a mildly fun game. The New York Times’ crusade against Russia has become such a caricature of cold-war-era propaganda that it now resembles the tirades against the Koch brothers for forcing all of us to burn fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow and duping us into opposing the turning of our last rural and wild places into industrial wind and solar energy facilities.

On Nov. 30, the Times published an article by Andrew Higgins titled “Russian Money Suspected Behind Fracking Protests”. As with most such openly propagandistic pieces at the Times, the article is not opened to comments. The article is reminiscent of one at The Guardian on June 19 reporting then Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s claim that Russia is “secretly working with environmentalists to oppose fracking”. Yes, the choice is between fracking (injecting a slew of toxic chemicals into the ground at high pressure to fracture rocks and release deposits of methane, much of which is released into the air, with some 25 times the greenhouse gas effect of CO₂) and ... what, exactly?

In each of these articles, one can simply substitute Russia with Exxon, Putin with the Koch Brothers, and fracking with wind turbines and, as if they were written from a “Mad Libs” template, one has another typical article that avoids the actual issue involved, rather evoking a vague powerful network of “astroturf” organizations surely backed by a nefarious puppetmaster. The articles flip the power relationship to portray the frackers/wind developers as victims of the monstrous power of local opposition. The local officials who thought it was fine to sell out their communities are left scratching their heads, cursing (and having it dutifully reported) what they can only assume (out of their own worldview) to be “well financed and well organized” opposition instead of acknowledging the power of democracy and information. The lack of evidence for the charges only proves how powerful the evil geniuses behind it really are. The fact that people across the social and political spectrum unite against these developments is also presented as proof that they can only be paid agents – or gullible dupes – instead of recognized, even celebrated, as the populist power of a common cause.

In the Guardian article, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth laugh at Rasmussen’s claim. Maybe those groups should reconsider their own demonization campaigns against people who oppose large-scale wind and solar developments in rural and wild areas.