When I was eleven years old I had a friend who resolved to avoid a course of action purely because someone he loathed thought it was a good idea, and despite the fact that the course of action in question would have been highly beneficial to him. I decided then and there to make it a personal maxim never to repeat my friend’s mistake, and that was a resolution that has followed me, intact, into adulthood. Though I haven’t had many opportunities to use it, it has borne fruit in another unexpected way. It’s helped me better understand certain political divides, and why they occasionally persist.
Back in the day when feminism was referred to (sometimes disparagingly) as “women’s lib,” and “peace” was almost a dirty word, conservationists drafted the technical term “ecology” into their movement to define their advocacy, thereby converting it, too, into a word heavily freighted with liberalism. What’s more, they were often closely aligned to, at times interchangeably so, with the so-called “hippie movement,” rendering any advocacy for the planet guilty, by association, with acid-dropping hippies.
With the passage of time this association is still intact in the minds of the older generation of white Republicans, who are mostly the kind that continue to hold sway in Washington. Forgetting that Nixon founded the EPA, these are the conservatives who refer to conservationists, with a curled lip and appropriate snarl, as “tree-hugging liberals.” Never mind that the tree we are allegedly hugging is producing, on average, 118 kilograms of life giving oxygen every year to the snarling Republican in question – and his family. The tree never bothers to ask how one is registered.
It’s odd that preserving the only home we have from destruction should be a liberal-conservative issue at all. Odder still that the ones opposed to it should be called, of all things, “conservatives.” But there you are. These days ignoring the direct warnings of scientists who tell us we are in the midst of planet earth’s sixth extinction level event – and there just may be something we can do about it if we act quickly – ought to be the stuff of anarchists, or (grandiose) suicide bombers, not fiscal conservatives.
Conservatives don’t merely get it wrong, they get it wrong in ways that are, in defiance of the odds, malignant, stupid and ultimately deadly dangerous. So when they get it right one wonders who goofed. What’s more, one wonders who’s going to notice and how long will it take them to “fix” it.
It turns out that Kelly Craft, Donald Trump’s nominee for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is now, believe it or not, a climate science believer. She was a fence sitter before and that may be how she slipped past the commissars of conformity. Nobody bothered to double-check her papers.
It should be interesting to note what Trump does with her now that the truth about her unorthodoxy is out. The fact that Donald Trump is lazy may be her best hope. Trump watches TV, tweets, golfs, goes to his own Nuremberg-style rallies, attends state-level events when they are in his honor, and eats. He almost never does his job, which is why after two years and five months he still hasn’t filled all the open White House positions. Which is why many positions in his own cabinet remain unfilled.
As Craft puts it, “Climate change needs to be addressed as it poses real risk to our planet. Human behavior has contributed to the changing climate.” Why, if I didn’t know better I’d swear she sounded just like one of those tree-hugging hippies. Let’s see if Trump notices. I’m guessing he won’t.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.