Wednesday, July 18, 2007

RFK Jr. Revisited

Writing at National Review Online, Marlo Lewis discusses Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s recent Live Earth comments. Mr. Lewis begins by quoting Kennedy's now infamous remarks:

The most important thing you can do is to get involved in the political process and get rid of all of these rotten politicians that we have in Washington D.C.—who are nothing more than corporate toadies for companies like Exxon and Southern Company. These villainous companies that consistently put their private financial interest ahead of American interest and ahead of the interest of all of humanity. This is treason and we need to start treating them now as traitors.

Lewis ably points out the absurdity of Kennedy's comments:

The Constitution defines the crime very narrowly: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort” (Art III, Sec. 3, emphasis added).

Kennedy is trying to silence his political adversaries by driving the marketplace (politically incorrect energy companies) out of the marketplace of ideas. That may be disloyal to the spirit of the Constitution, but it is not treason. To be guilty of treason, for example, Kennedy would have to become an “American Taliban,” pledge allegiance to Bin Laden, or give aid and comfort to Al Qaeda.

For the same reason, Kennedy’s charge of treason against ExxonMobil and Southern Company is absurd calumny.

However, it would be a mistake to write off Kennedy’s rant as mere bombast or rhetorical excess. It is more likely a window into his belief system. Calling your political opponents traitors makes perfect sense if you see yourself as a combatant in a war. And many eco-activists do seem to view the global warming crusade as a holy war to save the planet, our democracy, even our very souls. Thus, they naturally regard their opponents as villains and traitors.

In my view, Lewis is dead on in his analysis of Kennedy's worldview. In January 2002, just four months after 9/11, Kennedy proclaimed large hog farms to be a threat "greater than that in Afghanistan". This is just one example among many of Kennedy's willingness to use hysterical rhetoric, gross exaggeration, and highly dubious evidence in support of his radical environmentalist agenda. Like so many true believers, Kennedy seems to think that mere factual accuracy is unimportant when compared to the higher "truth" that he knows to be absolutely correct.

On the other hand, though, you do have to consider Kennedy's occasional willingness to shelve his principles when they conflict with his personal interests, as with his opposition to a Nantucket wind farm project that would have marred his beautiful seaside vistas while on vacation.

To the best of my recollection, Kennedy never used the word "traitor" in his June ALA keynote address, though terms like "criminal", "thugs", and even "fascism" were used quite freely. To my particular ire, he even concluded by trotting out the "Chickenhawk" canard. So progressing to use of the word "treason" was not too much of a stretch for Kennedy.

In short, inflammatory, ad hominem rhetoric is par for the course for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.


Blogger RFKJr. said...

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Otto Pilot said...

RFK Jr. on Fascism

Appearing on CNN's Genn Beck show, RFK Jr. gave a definition of fascism saying it came from the American Heritage Dictionary. He then quoted something from Mussolini referencing the evils of corporate influence.

In 1919, Mussolini founded the Fasci de Combattimento. They were later referred to as "Fascists". They were promoting the idea that business and commerce was the root cause of the current socioeconomic problems in Italy. Mussolini was hoping that class-struggle politics would eventually lead to economic and social collapse (sound familiar), creating the vacuum for him to some day step in as leader. His oppressive and brutal tactics have in the end become the current definition of fascism.

By that standard, Mussolini was indeed a fascist dictator (much like Hugo Chávez is now). RFK Jr. has been quoting his Mussolini "definition" of fascism lately to justify his shouting down of the climate change experts he does not agree with. He often calls those with an opposing view “traitors”, “corporate toadies”, “flat-earthers”, “fascists”, etc. Mussolini is mentioned in the AHD, but only as a historical reference to show how the word fascism earned it's meaning.

It looks like RFK Jr., Mussolini and Hugo Chávez may all have something in common.

- Otto Pilot

12:07 AM  

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