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Rep. Bachmann’s reckless rhetoric targets environmentalists

Rebecca Poswolsky • Jan 13, 2011

Signs at a Bachmann rally

In a 2009 interview on a conservative radio program, Michele Bachmann urged Minnesotans to become “armed and dangerous” against Obama’s energy tax bill to reduce carbon emissions.

According to the Huffington Post, when Bachmann was asked about the White House-backed cap-and-trade proposal to reduce carbon emissions, she told WWTC 1280 AM:

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people – we the people – are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.”

A legislator instructing her supporters to become “armed and dangerous” may not be a literal call to arms, but it does contribute to a politically violent atmosphere and focuses irrational anger towards environmentalists working to address global warming.

Bachmann has gone so far as to say that she doesn’t believe human activity causes global warming.  In March of 2009 she said, “And actually, we want this debate because the science is on our side on this one. And the science indicates that human activity is not the cause of all this global warming. And that in fact, nature is the cause, with solar flares, etc.”

Bachmann uses the climate bill to inject an anti-environmental, rightist agenda into her political platform.  In her speech on the House floor in 2009, she said, “But what is worse than this is the fact that now because of this underlying bill, the federal government will virtually have control over every aspect of lives for the American people…It is time to stand up and say: We get to choose. We choose liberty, or we choose tyranny — it’s one of the two.”

It is unclear what Bachmann means by tyranny and why she chooses that particular language to reach out to her base.   Environmentalists should be concerned that Bachmann is using the proposed climate bill as a vehicle to ignite anger against those addressing global warming.

This is not the first time environmentalists have come under attack.

The Wise Use movement of the 1990s gave rise to a new movement that was hostile to environmental organizations. William Kevin Burke from Political Research Associates described the movement this way:

“The Wise Use movement seeks to open all federal lands to logging, mining, and the driving of off-road vehicles. Despite much rhetoric about seeking ecological balance and environmental solutions, almost the only environmental problem The Wise Use Agenda addresses rather than dismisses is the threat of global warming from the build-up of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere. The solution proposed is the immediate clear-cutting of the small portion of old growth timber left in the United States so that these forests can be replanted with young trees that will absorb more carbon dioxide.”

Born on the far right, the Wise Use movement became a movement spun on the notion not only that climate change does not exist, but that clear cutting of natural forests can actually be good for the environment.  The goal was to form a platform that was good for industry, logging and that could claim that it was preserving land.

Common Dreams covered the impetus of the Wise Use movement:

“Twelve years ago, Audubon magazine’s Kate Callaghan pointed out that during the 20th century’s first decade, Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, likely used the term, ‘wise use’ when he ‘called conservation the wise use of resources.’ Eighty years later, Ron Arnold expropriated the phrase and turned it into a political movement. Using the term during a multiple use strategy conference in Reno, NV, Arnold suggested that ‘wholesale mining, logging and grazing are possible while simultaneously preserving the land.”

Arnold’s 1989 book, The Wise Use Agenda, brought the “wise use movement to the center of an anti-environmental, pro-industry nexus.”

Bachmann has not only made anti-environmentalism part of her political platform, she used violent rhetoric to do it.  Environmentalists should be aware of Bachmann’s call to arms and the motives behind it.

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