Green Terrorism's New Left Roots

How Sixties radicals influenced the lethal anti-human philosophy of would-be killer James J. Lee.

On September 1, James J. Lee was shot and killed by police after he took several hostages and threatened to set off explosives at the Discovery Channel’s communications headquarters in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The Washington Post called him an “environmental militant” and provided a link to his website To the general public, his views are certainly extreme, but the alarming reality is, within the Green movement, his views are mainstream.

Lee wrote that he was greatly influenced by Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth.” Other Green propaganda obviously also made a deep impression on him. What has grabbed the most attention was Lee’s hatred for the human race. His demands for changes in Discovery Channel programming included this disturbing diatribe: “Focus must be given on how people can live without giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution….programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed.”

Lee’s theme was not merely “the planet does not need humans,” but also that humans do not need civilization. He stated that his campaign would continue until “the natural world starts improving and human civilization building stops and is reversed.” He thought TV programs should “talk about ways to disassemble civilization…..Civilization must be exposed for the filth it is. That, and all its disgusting religious-cultural roots and greed.” He wanted to bring down “the whole blasted human economy.”

The same day Lee was committing his act of eco-terrorism, the left-wing website opened with an editorial arguing:

The idea of boosting production or increasing output or efficiency is mired in the old way of thinking– about more is better. We need to end that approach and switch to the model Keith Farley describes, in his book TIME’s UP, where he suggests that we need to start buying things that last, keeping them, fixing them buying used goods, with the goal of decreasing production. That idea challenges the consumer economic model. It challenges the idea that we maintain a healthy economy by maintaining production and consumption.

OpEdNews has been very critical of the betrayal of leftist beliefs by President Barack Obama, running columns calling for him to join former President George W. Bush in the dock for war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the editorial also expressed discontent with Obama and his party on environmental issues: “Things are at a point where we need to start thinking about stronger measures to bring about change. The Democratic victories failed to make anywhere close to the changes we need.” Apparently, unemployment isn’t high enough yet to produce the decline in living standards and the negative economic growth the Green Left desires.

These views might be dismissed if they were just nonsensical musing on fringe websites. But Al Gore is a former vice president of the United States and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his Green activism. John P. Holdren, who is Obama’s director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, has argued in the past for the “de-development” of the United States, believing the country is “over developed.” He co-authored the 1973 book Ecoscience with Paul and Anne Ehrlich, believers in the need to reduce human population. The trio wrote:

The need for de-development presents our economists with a major challenge. They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in the present one.

The most critical change of all must be a change in goals; all people, rich and poor alike, must come to recognize that being a citizen of a giant, smoggy, freeway-strangled industrial state is not necessary to being a happy, healthy, fulfilled human being.

This Green worldview is common fare at the United Nations, where negotiations are in progress to produce a global treaty limiting energy use and production in the industrialized nations by the end of this year. In the wake of the failure of the UN process to adopt a treaty in Copenhagen last year, Climate Justice Action, an international coalition of over 70 organizations whose protests have included invading buildings, declared:

Today we know that is up to all of us to collectively reclaim power over our daily lives. It is we who must start shutting down and moving beyond the engines of capitalism, the burning of fossil fuels, the conversion of all life into commodities, and the toxic imaginaries of consumerism. It is we who must create different ways of living, other ways of organising our societies. Today we know that climate justice means taking action ourselves.

The UN talks are based on the notion of a zero-sum world which has reached its limit of tolerance for human civilization. One of the most direct statements of this view came from Nick Dearden, Director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign:

The rich world has gobbled up far more than its fair share of the earth’s atmosphere in order to develop. In essence, industrialised countries colonised the atmosphere, in the same way they did other resources.

The solution: rich countries need to ‘pay’ through redistributing a fairer share of limited atmospheric space, as well as helping poorer countries adapt to the mess they find themselves in.

General hatred for civilization turns into specific hatred for American and Western civilization. It is the self-loathing of the “anti-imperialist” New Left of the 1960s that spawned the environmentalist movement in the first place. The first Earth Day was in 1970. Its rallies were attended by the same activists who were burning American flags while protesting the raiding of communist sanctuaries in Cambodia that year.

The theme was that the U.S. must be brought down, both at home and abroad. Reducing America’s wealth would reduce its power, which the New Left considered an evil influence on the world. As life-long radical Jeff Jones wrote in 2008: “There can be no solution to the world’s environmental crisis as long as Americans enjoy their rapacious and engorged standard of living at the expense of the health and survival of billions of other.” He traced his feelings back to 1969, when Students for a Democratic Society “famously announced that those of us living in the heart of the imperial empire were going to have to give some of it back.”

These words are from Jones’ chapter on the environmental movement in the book Sing a Battle Song: The Revolutionary Poetry, Statements and Communiqués of the Weather Underground, 1970-1974 which he co-edited with President Obama’s old Chicago friends Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

The Antiwar and Green movements remained linked, as was evident in John Lee’s manifesto where he demanded: “War must be halted. Not because it’s morally wrong, but because of the catastrophic environmental damage modern weapons cause to other creatures.”

Lee’s assault on the Discovery offices was essentially an act of suicide by a deranged “true believer” in Green ideology. But since that ideology is very much a demand that Americans, if not humans worldwide, commit what would amount to mass suicide, the insanity has it origins with those who founded it and continue to spread it through schools, government agencies and international organizations.