The Child Manipulators

by | Jul 9, 2001

On Friday (June 29, 2001), ABC news correspondent John Stossel aired a hard-hitting report challenging the environmentalist movement and suggesting that “tampering with nature” makes human life better — that such “unnatural” phenomena as clean water, heated homes and modern medicine are an advance over living in a mud hut and foraging for berries. The […]

On Friday (June 29, 2001), ABC news correspondent John Stossel aired a hard-hitting report challenging the environmentalist movement and suggesting that “tampering with nature” makes human life better — that such “unnatural” phenomena as clean water, heated homes and modern medicine are an advance over living in a mud hut and foraging for berries.

The environmentalists, however, have gotten used to treating the press as a wholly owned subsidiary — so they did their best to sink Stossel’s special. Under the auspices of the Environmental Working Group, several parents who had allowed their kids to be interviewed for a segment on environmental education announced that they were revoking their consent. One parent, Brad Neal, complained that he agreed to the interview because he thought it would be about “sharing our children’s thoughts on the environment” — but he changed his mind once he discovered the show’s “negative slant.” Apparently, he only allows his children to be exploited for the correct causes.

Revealing its exact degree of journalistic independence, ABC caved in to the greens and cut the segment. But the most shameful aspect of this story is that the suppression of the Stossel interview covers up the real case of child manipulation: the environmental indoctrination of children in our schools.

The kids Stossel interviewed were found at an Earth Day fair held for schoolchildren in Los Angeles. I attended that event, and what I saw was an exercise in manipulation so cynical that it must be exposed. If Stossel won’t be allowed to expose it, I will.

The children, ranging in age from 6 to 15, were bused in by the hundreds. It was an official school field trip, supported by the park service and the City Council.

The students were told that Earth Day was like Mother’s Day, that we celebrate Earth Day to show that we “love our mother.” What would you think of someone telling your 8-year-old that if he doesn’t accept a certain political agenda, that means he doesn’t love his mommy?

The children were asked to sing along with the “Please Conserve” song, with lyrics like, “They want to drill our parks for oil/That will pollute their sea and soil.” I’m not sure which is worse: children at a school-sponsored event being drafted to take sides on a current political controversy — or the presentation of these serious issues, which ought to be debated by thoughtful adults, in the form of a simple-minded children’s song.

The practical purpose of the event was to push “green power,” as opposed to coal, oil and nuclear, which were condemned as evil and “dirty.” The students were told repeatedly that solar power is the wave of the future. As the event’s organizer declared, “If anyone ever tells you that (solar power) won’t work, tell them that you were here at Earth Day and you saw it work.” He did not tell them that, although 100 percent of the nation’s central station solar power plants are located in California, they generate less than 200 megawatts, a measly 0.3 percent of the state’s power supply. Had he given them these facts, they might have been able to decide for themselves whether solar power really works.

Or perhaps not. To assess the merits of a new source of power requires a basic background of scientific, technological and economic knowledge. The real absurdity is that the pro-solar propaganda was being pushed to children who are too young to know what a megawatt is or even what a percentage means. These children are being indoctrinated in environmentalism before they have any capacity to grasp its meaning and judge it for themselves. And they are being taught this dogma as a substitute for learning what they would need to know to become rational, informed adults.

This was revealed most eloquently toward the end of the event, when the children were herded onto an open lawn and guided into the shape of a giant sun and its rays, with the slogan “Go Solar” spelled out in giant letters, each composed of about a dozen children. The formation was photographed by helicopter to be published, I was told, on the front page of the Los Angeles Times. As the children were finishing the formation, I heard one of the organizers yell, “Here come the last rays of the sun!” I looked over to see a train of 6-year-olds, joined hand-to-hand, led by an adult to take their place in the environmentalists’ photo-op.

Judge for yourself which side of this debate is guilty of manipulating children.

Robert Tracinski was a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute from 2000 to 2004. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Mr. Tracinski is editor and publisher of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily, which offer daily news and analysis from a pro-reason, pro-individualist perspective. To receive a free 30-day trial of the TIA Daily and a FREE pdf issue of the Intellectual Activist please go to TIADaily.com and enter your email address.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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