Sunday, January 09, 2005

On Hypocrisy and Chicken Little

"For neither man nor angel can discern
Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone"

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Infuriating in my youth but increasingly humorous as I stand unsteadily in the rocky land called (with apologies to Tolkien) "Middle Age," I find the hypocrisy of the liberal news media as amusing as it is astonishing. I will cite a recent example of how growing old and knowing the sound of past howlings of the political left make today’s screeching so very laughable.

Harken back, if you are able and among those of us who survived them, to the early 1960s. The world was being jarred awake to the tenuous balance nature was holding against the rising tide of the human population. The post-World War II "baby boom" saw the world’s population growing by leaps and bounds. We, in America, sought ways to increase crop production and farmable land to feed ours - and as is our sworn duty - the world’s bedraggled hoards abroad.

One of the boons to increasing agriculture productivity was the use of the pesticide DDT. DDT was developed as the first modern insecticide early in World War II. It was initially used with great effects to combat malaria, typhus and other insect-born diseases among both military and civilian populations. It was used on post-war U.S. crops in the late 1940s. It was very effective on food and industrial crops (such as cotton) and agricultural productivity increased. The number of lives saved worldwide by the use of DDT to almost eradicate vector-borne diseases such as yellow fever and malaria are inestimable

Then, of course, along came Rachel Carson. One of the early tree-huggers, Ms. Carson wrote the enduring environmental classic "Silent Spring." Upon it’s publication and, in particular, through excerpts printed in - you guessed it - New Yorker Magazine, Ms. Carson achieved instant fame and celebrity in the inner circles of the elite - specifically academia, limousine liberals, and Democrats.

As the cacophony of outrage rose to a fever pitch, the Chicken Littles began crying out "The sky is falling." Well, maybe not the sky, but the environment. "We are poisoning our planet!" they all cried out. DDT, it seemed, at least according to the esteemed Ms. Carson was killing wildlife. That was her thesis. Arcane, at least at the time, phrases like "food chain" were bantered about, first by the liberal press and, inevitably, by the finger-wagging Democrats.

And it came to pass, that Congress - during the Kennedy-Johnson years, when else? - directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the use of DDT in the United States. In 1972, the legislation took effect and was followed, in due course, by a U.S. imposed worldwide ban. Though we still have not developed an adequate broad-spectrum pesticide, the DDT ban remains in effect today.

Now, gentle reader, flash forward to today. Now, with the death rates from vector-borne diseases claiming millions of lives throughout the world, and DDT remaining on the shelves, who should come out of the woodwork but that liberal, environmental sensitive, rampart of liberalism, the New York Times. In an editorial of January 8. 2005 by Nicholas D. Kristof (he of the "Land of the Penny Pinchers" editorial just the week before) has written another symphony of half-hearted outrage entitled "It’s Time To Spray DDT." In a startling reversal (the sort which hides hypocrisy behind righteous indignation), Kristof writes:

"If the U.S. wants to help people in tsunami-hit countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia - not to mention other poor countries in Africa - there's one step that would cost us nothing and would save hundreds of thousands of lives.

"It would be to allow DDT in malaria-ravaged countries.

"I'm thrilled that we're pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the relief effort, but the tsunami was only a blip in third-world mortality. Mosquitoes kill 20 times more people each year than the tsunami did, and in the long war between humans and mosquitoes it looks as if mosquitoes are winning.

"One reason is that the U.S. and other rich countries are siding with the mosquitoes against the world's poor - by opposing the use of DDT."
Ok, so now the government is not guilty of killing the environment by using DDT, we are guilty of killing people for not using DDT. The editorial is dripping with the usual New York Times finger-wagging, hand-wringing, "we are evil rich suppressing the helpless poor," "why don’t we do something" detritus. Kristof includes this bit of pharisaism in his polemic:

"Is it safe? DDT was sprayed in America in the 1950's as children played in the spray, and up to 80,000 tons a year were sprayed on American crops. There is some research suggesting that it could lead to premature births, but humans are far better off exposed to DDT than exposed to malaria."

Rachel Carson be damned! I would be willing to bet a large sum of money (if I had such a sum that would be considered "large" by anyone's standards) that, if Kristof was old enough to scribble anything in the 1960s, he would have come out firmly against the horrors of using DDT to kill anything, including mosquitos. However, now the worms have turned, The leftists now believe DDT is good and we are, once again, the villains for not spraying it all over the world to save the downtrodden masses of poor and oppressed. I feel an overwhelming sense of nausea. But, then, I am older now and I do find solace and remedy from the sweet irony of it all.

Age does have its own rewards. The pendulum of hypocrisy never stops swinging. Now that the environment is safe from capitalist thugs - the few, the proud, the Americans - we must do an about face and start marching in the opposite direction. After all, we are the alpha and omega of the world’s woes, are we not? I certainly feel like I am and, considering my accusers, it gives me a warm glow on a cold winter’s night.
Addendum #1: Malaria is coming! Malaria is coming! Break out the DDT! And do it quick!
Addendum #2: Someone must be reading this BLOG! An article is written with the same theme.

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