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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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April 3, 2008 8:46 AM

Distorting Nazi history to attack environmentalists

Posted by David Postman

Before you read this post please read the article on page 8 of the March issue of Building Insight, the newsletter of the Building Industry Association of Washington. It is titled:

Hitler's Nazi party: They were eco extremists

The article is written by Mark Musser, the storm-water field representative for the BIAW. He claims that Nazis “expressed many of the ecological refrains we hear today” and that “Nazis were the vanguard of conservationism.”

Musser wrote the piece to follow-up something he had written the month before that had drawn a less clear - and really less serious - parallel between Adolph Hitler and today’s environmental movement and the state Department of Ecology, or DOE.

Knowing my parallel would illicit screams of protest — how politically incorrect of me to mention Hitler and Nazis in the same breath as DOE or the environmental lobby —I explored the actual connection between environmental extremism and Hitler’s Nazi party.

Musser writes that “maintaining harmony with the natural landscape” was a tenet of Nazism, and says, for example, “the autobahn freeway in Germany was designed by Nazis with the utmost ecological care in mind and presented as a way to bring Germans closer to nature.”

Nazis were the vanguard of conservationism - they sought to remedy the increasing alienation of people from the natural world, deforestation, urban sprawl, the destruction of ecosystem balance, the extinction of species and the indiscriminate slaughter of animals.

… Of course, this Nazi environmental zealotry was insanely tied to German nationalism (racism) which relied heavily on the ideals of social Darwinism, a doctrine which some environmentalists have kept alive in spite of its evil reputation.

Musser claims a clear connection between Hitler’s Nazis and today’s environmentalists. Not all of them, but “some environmentalists.” And you can see in that last line above that he goes so far as to claim some of today’s environmentalists profess even the most evil doctrine of the Third Reich.

This is a misreading of history. And even a little research would have made that clear. The sources the BIAW cites for the work refute Musser’s theory - either in the past when others have attempted to misuse their scholarship or in response to my questions this week.

The article struck a nerve with me. If you read my blog regularly you know I dislike rhetorical excess, whether from the right or the left. It rarely serves the interest that the author claims. And I believe that historic analogies should not be made haphazardly, especially when dealing with events such as genocide or slavery. To say something - particularly something in the political world or, say, storm-water regulations - is akin to either one of those is a losing argument from the start.

I called Tom McCabe, executive vice president of the BIAW to talk about it. I asked if he had gotten complaints about the piece. He hadn’t.

It seemed like it was a history lesson more than anything else.

He said the piece showed Nazis “were environmentalists and maybe extremists in that sense.”

McCabe put me on a speaker phone so Erin Shannon could join the conversation. She’s the editor of the BIAW newsletter. She strongly defended the article and shot down any suggestion it was anything other than perfectly appropriate for a business newsletter.

It is an historical comparison and just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not true. …

We never try to diminish anything Hitler did. What we’re doing is discussing the fact that the Nazi party believed many of the same things that today’s eco-extremists believe.

She also told me:

Just because it’s politically sensitive or politically incorrect doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write about it.

Shannon and I argued about this quite a bit. I told her I thought the analogy was overwrought and a selective reading of Nazism. It read to me as an obvious attempt to paint state regulators and environmentalists as the ideological descendents of the Nazis.

I later met with Shannon and Musser. Musser said he began researching Nazi environmentalism after hearing an interview with Jonah Goldberg who recently published, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

He said as he read about the Nazi's green tendencies, "It all made sense to me." Musser clearly has read a lot about the era and can talk about the role of mysticism in the Third Reich and how the nationalist tendency of the European conservation movement predated Hitler's Germany.

He believes conservationism was a big part of the Nazi ideology and for Hitler's plans for the world.

If they had won the war we would have enviromental programs everywhere.

They had plans, big plans.

Musser sees strong connections between pre-war Nazis and today's regulators and environmentalists.

The point is, they say, 'We’re not racists but we do micro-magage the heck out of people.' And social engineering is micromanging and that was a big part of Nazism.

It’s not racism and its not the killing, but it is social engineering.

Musser graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1989. He says he was bothered by books he had to read that, he says, "blamed Christians and the rich for the destruction of our society."

"There’s a parallel there, too," he said, to the Nazi's scapegoating of the Jews.

When I initially asked Shannon for the sources that would back up the claims in the article, she mentioned two authors, Ohio State University Professor Raymond Dominick and Peter Staudenmaier, who she said was “an avowed anarchist.” She also told me:

If you go to wikipedia they devote an entire paragraph to how environmentally radical the Nazi party was.

A quick Google search shows that Dominick and Staudenmaier have refuted these sorts of claims before, saying their work was misused by conservatives trying to smear environmentalists.

In 2003, an Australian senator cited both men’s work when he talked in Parliament about “the extremely alarming, frightening similarities between the methods employed by contemporary Green politics and the methods and the values of the Nazis.”

Dominick told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that his work was not just misconstrued, but “in fact I think it was twisted almost into its opposite.”

There are numerous other ideas that can propel one to protect the environment, and among those ideas in Germany in the 19th century, and elsewhere too, one particularly problematic idea arose that eventually was taken over by the Nazis. I want to stress that this is only one idea among many. That idea preached that the natural environment shaped the races on the planet. …

But it is not the kind of conservation that the Greens preach. For the Greens, this kind of racist conservation is not part of their world view at all. I see the Greens as descendents of those parts of the conservation movement that were not tainted by Nazism, which is exactly the opposite of the argument that Senator Brandis was making. …

So to say that the Greens and the Nazis are closely related is to defy the evidence, I would say.

On the broadcast, Dominick read from one of his books an excerpt from a section titled, “Connections Between Nazis and Conservationists.”

‘The allegation has arisen from diverse quarters that environmental protection at least in some of its manifestations, is intrinsically Nazi.’ And I go on a little further down to say ‘These allegations reflect a superficial understanding of the history and world view of environmentalists and today’s Greens.’ I thought I’d made the point of a lack of connection fairly clear with that comment.

Staudenmaier wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that his work has been routinely misappropriated, “and thus failed to do justice both to the very grave history that the book recounts, as well as to the current relevance of these issues in today's world.”

I have heard from a number of conservative political figures in the United States, where I live, who are eager to use my historical work as a weapon in the struggle against what they see as the Green menace. These people refer to my research on ecofascism as a cheap tactic to impugn virtually all varieties of political environmentalism. In my opinion, this is not a serious way to approach important historical questions.

After I pointed out to McCabe that the sources cited by Shannon had disavowed the sort of connections made in Musser’s piece, Shannon e-mailed me citing the Encyclopedia of World Environmental History, Volume 2, and the work of professors Shepard Krech III and J.R. McNeill.

Krech and McNeill are two of three editors of the encyclopedia. The article cited by Shannon was written by Staudenmaier. Staudenmaier, the anarchist, has written a lot about the rise of facisim and has gone a bit further in writing about Nazi conservationism than most U.S. and German academics in the field. Even given that, though, he has also made it clear, as he did in the Australia case, that his work is misrepresented when someone tries to draw a connection to modern day environmentalists.

Shannon sent this excerpt to back up Musser's claims:

Staudenmaier notes that Nazi leaders' "search for a lost connection to nature...reflected firmly held beliefs and, indeed, practices at the very top of the Nazi heirarchy which are today conventionally associated with ecological attitudes." Staudenmaier concludes the ecological fanaticism of the Nazi leaders allowed them to promote a National Socialism that could then be seen to "strive for the elimination of other races in order to allow the German people's innate understanding and feeling of nature to assert itself, hence securing a harmonic life close to nature..." Thus, Staudenmaier concludes, was the "true legacy of ecofascism in power: 'genocide developed into a necessity under the cloak of environmental protection'." Staudenmaier warns of the danger of ignoring this "legacy of classical ecofascism and its conceptual continuities with present-day environmental discourse."

McNeill, a professor at Georgetown University, is an expert in the field of the history of environmentalism. I sent McNeill a copy of Musser’s article. He told me:

I do not recognize any of my own work reflected in the piece you sent me.

And he refutes the premise of Musser’s article and Shannon’s claims that conservationism played any sort of important role in the Nazi party.

There is a core of truth to the proposition that some (by no means all or even most) Nazis cherished a romanticized ideal of German nature, free from the ravages of industrialization. But this was a low priority among the leadership, and never carried out. The laws of 1935 on nature conservation were not enforced or followed, as the regime preferred heavy industry, development and rearmament. It would be more accurate to say a small minority within the Nazi party took nature conservation seriously, but they were unable to prevail over the mainstream, which for reasons of national power and full employment favored coal, steel, armaments, etc.

Did Nazis express “many of the ecological refrains we hear today”?

The language was different, motives different, goals different. Nazis did express, in their own way (i.e. with emphasis on virtues of rural village life, sanctity of German soil and blood) some nature conservation refrains. But they were not interested in ecology (i.e. preservation of whole ecosystems, wildlife) or in scientific appreciations of conservation. For them it was a nostalgic, romantic, and nationalistic matter.

McNeill suggested I also talk with University of Maryland professor Thomas Zeller. He is a co-editor of the book, How Green Were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich.

Zeller also read Musser’s piece. And he said it was only one of many efforts that misuse the history of the Nazis.

This polemic has been used a lot and I'm sure this is going to continue to crop up, unfortunately. It's convenient, but doesn't advance our understanding of Nazism or of environmental history. Either you say the Greens are latter-day Nazis, or people from the extreme right wing say these people, the Nazis, weren't all that bad. Either view distorts the historical record for a current-day political purpose.

It was those efforts that prompted him and his co-editors to publish their book.

We wanted to move beyond the polemic and we wanted to see, does this rhetoric on the part of some Nazi leaders translate into sustained, systematic action and the answer is no.

…I would not claim that Nazis were in the vanguard in the field of conservation.

Some of the revisionist history that tries to make Nazis out to be conservationists comes from the fact that the party did pass a conservation law in 1935. But it was ignored as Hitler began preparing for war. Construction of coal plants, steel foundries, railroads and armament factories quickly trumped any idea of conservation.

But another clear flaw in Musser’s argument is that the conservation leanings of some Nazis were not a creation of the Third Reich, but merely a holdover from an idea that existed before the Nazi area.

University of South Carolina Professor Thomas Lekan wrote Imagining the Nation in Nature: Landscape Preservation and German Identity, 1885-1945 and recently co-edited with Zeller Germany’s Nature: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental History. He says that even though there were some conservationists among the Nazis, “they soon found that racial expansionism (Blood) trumped the environment (Soil) in the blood and soil rhetoric of the early 1930s.”

The Nazis were not about restricting land use for the common good or ecological integrity - in fact they welcome industrial development if it served their military and racist purposes. To suggest a connection between environmental regulation today and the "fascism" of the interwar era is a distortion of the context in which "Blood and Soil" functioned in the context of interwar Germany.

Musser said other authors back his claims, mentioning Anna Bramwell. She is the British author of 1985’s Blood and Soil: Walther Darre and Hitler’s 'Green Party',

A much fuller picture of the Nazi green movement has emerged since then and Bramwell’s work has come under some criticism. Lekan said Bramwell looked at marginal movements of the pre-war era, and connected them to Darre, Hitler’s agricultural minister. Bramwell, he said, “assumed that a kind of Nordic ‘agrarian romanticism’ was at the heart of Hitler's ideology.

These folks were quickly marginalized in the regime due to the priorities the Nazis put on rearmament and land reclamation to prepare for war.

Musser told me he chooses to believe Bramwell, not those that have written since 1985 or are the leading experts in the field.

I could see a lot of reasons why people would want to deny this, or minimize this, because it’s too shocking, too hard to believe. ‘How could the Nazis be environmentalists?’

Musser thinks the research I did this week is part of that same effort. He told me:

I think you’re minimizing it, which I shouldn’t be surprised by.

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Posted by jcricket

2:12 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Great job David, but obviously futile. The BIAW, along with most Republican-tied advocacy groups has descended off the deep end as their ideas have been more and more rejected by the public at large. I suppose it's because they need shock value to get anyone to pay attention to them (see Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, etc.).

The fundamental truth is that the BIAW is trying to make us all believe in their faulty logic (Nazis are bad, Nazis were environmentalists. Therefore environmentalists are nazis and are bad). It's Logic 101 to refute this nonsense, even without going into the nuances of whether Nazis were environmentalist or not. But the BIAW doesn't care - they don't want or need logic to advance their cause.

They just want to scream and pout and use words like "SOCIALIST" and "NAZI" to get everyone to ignore the pragmatic reality that the Republican/conservative agenda is bad for the vast majority of America. It's only through their fear mongering that Republicans and the faux-Libertarian/Conservative agenda has any standing left.

Posted by Particle Man

2:34 PM, Apr 03, 2008

And Rossi refuses to disavow BIAW pastor McCabe or his sidekick Musser.

BIAW is a religious organization right?

Posted by Jim Guthrie

3:07 PM, Apr 03, 2008

If I had a nickel every time I - or somebody who adheres to my political philosophy - was called a Nazi by somebody on the Left ... well, I'd have an awful lot of nickels. A lot.

Yet somehow, I don't recall reading blog posts denouncing it.

It's not a shot at you, David. People should be able to 'attack' their political rivals without calling them Nazis. I'm just amused at the righteous indignation by those liberal posters here who are now all up in arms because somebody called them a name they didn't like.

Here's an idea - why don't you on the Left knock it off, and we'll do the same. Until then? Tough nuts.

Posted by Goldy

3:07 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Nice work David.

So, when the BIAW insists on perpetuating such offensive, dangerous and, let's be honest, crazy lies... don't the candidates who embrace their endorsement and seek their money have an obligation to denounce them? And don't you think it is time for journalists to stop treating folks like McCabe and Musser as credible?

Posted by Particle Man

3:40 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Jim, I would never dream of calling you a Nazi. Misguided and at times delusional yes. But never would I use the Nazi thing. When you respect the human loss caused by Hitler and his followers you just don't go around equating the average political tool or environmentalists with Hitler or Nazis.

Posted by Postman

4:34 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Goldy, it is not my job to tell people politicians when they should do something or whether they should do something. I think the BIAW will tell you this is a column by one staff members, not the position of the organization.

As to what the press should do, I will continue to treat McCabe and the BIAW as I always have - as powerful players in state politics. As you know they have influence among Democrats and Republicans and are among the most powerful players around here. McCabe has been controversial in the past and it never did anything to reduce his pull in Olympia.

Posted by Mike

4:51 PM, Apr 03, 2008

I'm sure the Nazi leaders liked puppies. Is the BIAW opposed to puppies too?

This is exactly why I love Free Speech. It lets people reveal what they are really thinking, which then lets the rest of us realize they are crazed loons. Does the BIAW seriously think this could actually help their cause?

Posted by Susanne Freeborn

5:24 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Musser's efforts to equate Nazis and environmental concerns is such a cheap shot you would think he'd be embarrassed to so nakedly misrepresent the published ideas of academics still available to refute the twisting of their research and opinions. But perhaps the building industry professionals such as Musser, maybe they just don't read or respect anything as much as their assumed right to pillage their way through the landscape doing as they see fit, leaving ugliness, rubble cheesy buildings and tainted groundwater in their wake and calling anyone who calls for them to be more responsible a Nazi or a socialist.

The BIAW, indeed the Building Industry Association and its iterations in the various states, are totally invested in their rights to do whatever they want simply because they believe property rights are superior to any rights the public at large may have in the effect the projects the BIA members may have on the communities where they do business. For BIAW, respect for the earth is secondary to the love of money.

Posted by steve

8:06 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Seems to me, the BIAW -- a big supporter of Dino Rossi -- is aligned with the practices of the Nazis: a distortion of truth at best and outright lies as a manner of practice.

Posted by Patrick

8:18 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Shannon and the BIAW are correct. Kudos to them for being politically incorrect. David and the Peoples' Republic of Puget Sound need to wake up and smell the coffee. Thanx to David for bringing up the subject even though it went right over his head. By the way David, the BBC reports today that the earth is getting cooler.....oops.

Posted by upchuck

8:24 PM, Apr 03, 2008

In response to Jim Githrie's post: I often compare Bush to Hitler as many others often do. I'll concede that the mainstream thinks we are over the top to make the comparison, but I am convinced that my level of rhetorical hyperbole is at least a couple magnitudes lower than the BIAW in Postman's story here... The difference I see is that Bush lied repeatedly to the entire country with a intricately managed massive media offensive to instill fear in the entire nation to create support for his ill-conceived deadly and unnecessary war... that's right a WAR with BOMBS that kill thousands of innocent people. The BIAW compares us lefties to Nazis because, what, we want to cut down less trees???

Posted by Postman

9:25 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Jim Guthrie, I agree people should be able to have political debates without calling each other Nazis. I have written about other things that seemed off-base, like a Democrat's attempt to say his opponent was practicing McCarthyism. Out of control rhetoric shouldn't be allowed to go unchecked.

And Patrick, it is not news that something went over my under-educated head. But it must be a real high-flying idea to have gone over the heads of the nation's leading experts in the Third Reich's conservationist leanings.

Posted by Goldy

10:35 PM, Apr 03, 2008

Dave... well... it was rhetorical question. I know what your job is.

Like I said, nice piece.

Posted by Ryan

10:39 PM, Apr 03, 2008

This is some of the best journalism I've seen in a long, long time. Good on you for putting in the research and for giving the BIAW a chance to respond, even if they came off looking even more foolish as a result.

We should all be profoundly troubled that a group with that much power would stoop so demeaningly low.

Posted by blathering michael

1:22 AM, Apr 04, 2008

thanks for this David. You attacked and aborted a right-wing meme still in the womb.This is the prevailing dynamic down there, not just the idle blatherings of a staffer. Why else would they have gotten Erin, their ace-boom flack, to go to the mat defending it. And despite all your inconvenient evidence, and preponderance of reasoning, there was no admission of error, no retraction. Such is the state of truth at the BIAW. Buyer beware.

Posted by spender

5:49 AM, Apr 04, 2008

Is next month's BIAW newsletter going to have a thorough examination of "lebensraum" and the parallels between that concept and the BIAW's oft-stated desire to eliminate, or make toothless, Washington's Growth Management Act? Surely the thorough academic research that Mark Musser did MUST have gotten him thinking about such parallels.

Posted by Mark Musser

9:24 AM, Apr 04, 2008

This is the infamous Mark Musser. I was actually very pleased with Mr. Postman’s piece about whether or not the Nazi’s had environmental connections. It certainly was the most even handed one that I have yet to see here locally on the subject, and I do understand and respect David Postman’s concern about right wingers (or even left wingers for that matter), distorting the facts of history for their own political agenda.

I was actually already fully aware of Staudenmaier’s concerns about just that very thing, and also of what the Australian senator did back in 2003, not to mention other pieces written by others who said that the Nazi’s were not really very good environmentalists after all, similar to Zeller’s book on “How Green Were the Nazis?” The latter arguments I did not buy for the simple reason that Staudenmaier, recognizing the potential dangers of the bringing this whole eco-fascism issue up, still boldly did so, and thus spent a considerable amount of time openly talking about the eco-fascist ideals of the Nazi Party, and discounting suggestions trying to minimize Nazi ecological commitments, all the while also trying to steer clear of potentially being misused by conservative right wingers, and even modern neo-nazis. If you read his piece carefully, you realize that he has done a masterful job of walking the tight rope on this whole issue. For this reason, I took Staudenmaier’s admission and discussion about eco-Nazism more seriously than other positions that minimize Nazi environmental views. He took the hard road, which in my mind, has all the earmarks of greater historical authenticity. The very fact that Zeller had to write an entire book on the subject, and that even David Postman himself spent some 4-5 long pages trying to free environmentalism from any serious kind of Nazi connections, tells you something. There is something here.

Thus in my article, assuming Staudenmaier’s position that the Nazis were ecologically minded, however loaded with racism they may have been, I purposefully and shockingly said point blank that the Nazis were indeed very ecologically minded. While Postman, Staudenmaier and many others may think that I am taking a cheap shot here against modern environmentalism, I would beg to strongly differ. In contrast to Staudenmaier’s position that there is no real correlation to modern day environmentalism, I think that Nazi eco-fascism can help us understand why it is that houses do burn down on occasion. I think that I can also make the case that some modern environmentalists do have Social Darwinist views, and still others lean in that direction, especially when they complain about humans being the scourge or parasites of the earth. In such scenarios, they dislike humans in general, not just a particular race, which I would argue is actually more reprehensible than the former, as bad as the former may be.

However, as my article points out, it is not really the eco-Nazis which are the present danger here, as egregious as they may sometimes behave, but a very strong Sovietesque social engineering scheme instead where people’s lives, here in this case, homebuilders, are being micromanaged to death to make sure that they live up to ecology’s stormwater demands of them, among many other ecological demands as well. Thus the home builders are caught between eco-Nazis who burn houses on the one hand with occasional acts of terrorism vs. ecological commissars on the other hand who are putting the big squeeze on them over the long haul.

I would also like to add to David Postman’s critique that the nature mysticism and anti-Semitism of the 1800’s went hand in hand, where some German romantics began espousing that landless Jews were ruining the German landscape with their corrupt international cosmopolitan cities. This later developed into full blown Nazi racism in the 1900’s. Thus the idea that an ecological spirit was not part and parcel of the later Nazi Party is not credible in my estimation. The Final Solution and ecological “Living Space in the East” was a fulfillment of antecedent attitudes and passions about race and land, or better to say “,blood and soil,” a phrase which by itself wreaks of a quasi-religious ecological drumbeat. Moreover, what was vanguard about the Nazi conservation laws of the 1930’s was not that we are simply talking about a Teddy Roosevelt operation here where land is simply set aside for conservation/preservation. What was vanguard about the Nazi conservation laws were the social engineering schemes that were attached to them, and I can’t be told that that the Nazis were not interested in controlling people through land use restrictions.

I would also like to say that just because Nazi environmental schemes were not fully carried out should not surprise us. The Third Reich was only around for 12 years, 6 of which were involved in the biggest war of human history, and several years before that just getting ready for it. Just for a comparison, with regard to the current stormwater rules that are now on the books in the state of Washington, we are talking about an almost 20 year ecological odyssey that began in 1987.

I know that many people are upset and more than a few think I am some kind of moron, but I like my article, and I will stand by it. Modern environmentalism is quickly becoming an unassailable sacred cow in Washington State in spite of its occasional excesses of eco-terrorism on the one hand, and social engineering on the other hand. This by itself is another danger.

Posted by roger miller

9:34 AM, Apr 04, 2008

I agree 100% with Musser. Methinks you complain to much.........

Posted by upchuck

10:02 AM, Apr 04, 2008

The point is, Musser should know that using such over the top rhetoric will earn criticism. And deservedly so. Maybe he writes not to persuade, but to rally his audience (which I certainly wasn't intended to be a part of, so thanks Postman!) But now it has leaked into the public realm.

Pretty stupid move on Musser's part. To get somewhere on his agenda a rational debate would limit itself to the merits of the facts without the loaded references to Nazis. Instead of making a logical complaint about the nit-picky laws and 900-page codes, he just called everyone he disagrees with a bunch of Hitlers. Good luck lobbying those folks, buddy!

I still defend my use of rhetoric comparing a current leader of a country who lied and propagandized a country to start a war that killed 1000's to a past leader of a country who lied and propagandized to start a war that killed 1000s. But then again, I'm someone who gets off a little steam by semi-anonymously posting comments on a blog, not someone responsible for publicly representing an entire industry and political inte
rest group.

And to contend the Social Darwinist point... Musser has it backwards. It is the development interest groups who claim that they're right to do what ever the hell they want to do to a piece of land they control trumps all concerns for anyone who lives downwind, downstream, over the fence, or across the street. There is no concept of human equality or the public interest in this world view. Only money and by extension land ownership defines who has right, the power, or who is more "fit".

Posted by lupulin

10:04 AM, Apr 04, 2008

Makes me realize that 40 years later.... there is still immense work to do.

Posted by Brad

11:26 AM, Apr 04, 2008

Wow David, excellent article. But you have to realize that when dealing with total nutjobs like this, facts and "the truth" will get you nowhere in convincing them of anything.

Thanks for bringing all this to light.

Posted by bluneck

11:35 AM, Apr 04, 2008

It's really quite the logical stretch, isn't it? Fascinating that it comes from the stormwater guy for BIAW. Makes one wonder what Frank Chopp sees in the BIAW... There are more than a few environmentalists in the 43rd who also happen to be Jewish. Wonder what they think of his relationship with the BIAW?

Posted by Tim

11:46 AM, Apr 04, 2008

So if Hitler wiped his butt after taking a crap - I shouldn't do it, or be called a nazi. some things deserve no space at all - this is one.

Posted by Ebenezer

12:29 PM, Apr 04, 2008

Good work, David! Nice to see some legitimate research on the subject.

Someone on another blog mentioned Godwin's Law, which essentially states that when someone uses the Nazi comparison, they've lost the argument. That the BIAW has used it does not surprise me, as they went over the edge long ago.

I think the group is angry because they've lost much of their strength that they had when Locke was Governor. Now that Gregoire is Governor, we have some real leadership in the state, and the BIAW can't just bully people anymore (although they have been doing an effective job of stopping a homeowners' bill of rights).

By the way, my definition of an environmentalist is someone who values the work of God. That the BIAW thinks that's bad tells you a lot about them.

Posted by Thomas Brown

1:02 PM, Apr 04, 2008

Bravo Mr. Musser for a coherent and thoughtful response. People on this thread have no problem directly comparing Hitler to Bush but when you make a reasoned contrast between SOME of today's environmentalists and SOME Nazi policies, for some reason that is going too far. People need to contextualize history within a legitimate perspective. Hitler was a flat-out racist and was directly responsible for programs that killed millions while Bush simply wanted to believe what a minority of his advisors told him and used his media arsenal to push that message. He did not lie because he could honestly say that people were feeding him this information, period. He definitely misrepresented (deliberately I think) the information and refused to put it in context and is a bad leader for doing so but to compare the two-THAT is a lie. Or the result of ignorance without measure. People call him a racist, how many blacks did Clinton appoint to his cabinet? None. Unilateral war? Bosnia was an action condemned by the UN. And as far as ideolgical connections, Musser is absolutely right in that while many Nazi's hated, well most of humanity, many of today's environmentalists hate ALL of humanity. Look at PETA's website or ELF and they make it clear that humans are inherently evil, they blame every last man, woman and child on this planet and earth will be so much better off once homo sapiens are ALL dead. Perspective. Much needed, seldom seen

Posted by AntiGoldstien

1:11 PM, Apr 04, 2008

"So, when the BIAW insists on perpetuating such offensive, dangerous and, let's be honest, crazy lies... don't the candidates who embrace their endorsement and seek their money have an obligation to denounce them? And don't you think it is time for journalists to stop treating folks like McCabe and Musser as credible?"

Give it up clownstein. Darcy Burner won't win. She is running against George Bush again and he isn't even running.

Posted by OhMy!

1:19 PM, Apr 04, 2008

Upchuck wrote:

". To get somewhere on his agenda a rational debate would limit itself to the merits of the facts without the loaded references to Nazis. Instead of making a logical complaint about the nit-picky laws and 900-page codes, he just called everyone he disagrees with a bunch of Hitlers. Good luck lobbying those folks, buddy!"

Funny how I cannot find any references to article condenmning Ward Churchill, darling of the left who called 911 viticims "Little Eichmans". Seems to me that after that over the top rhetoric Churchhill was invited to speak on campuses all over the nation like some sort of celebrity.

Posted by Badger Boy

1:36 PM, Apr 04, 2008

Joel Connelly, the left-wing columnist of the Seattle P-I, has repeatedly likened global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers.

(Seattle P-I -- “Deniers of global warming harm us,” July 10, 2007; “Evidence of global warming surrounds a skeptic,” September 18, 2007; "Views on warming hard to thaw," August 22, 2005).

Where was the outrage from the media and bloggers for this blatant trivialization of one of the worst atrocities in history?

Just curious.

Posted by Dale Roose

1:40 PM, Apr 04, 2008

When I look around, I see lots of parallels between the actions of Nazia and the actions of many individuals and groups but whenever I bring up those parallels, I try to have a rational point. For example, when I talk about the parallel between the primary mission of Homeland Security being to integrate all law enforcement at every level of government, first responders, leaders of industry, transportation workers, nations and individuals, and so forth into the Department of Homeland Security, I mention the parallel with the integration of all German law enforcment into the Schutzstaffel (SS) in 1936 and I point out the danger of having all these forces serving at the pleasure of a commander-in-chief. This is a far cry from drawing a general parallel between any group or individual and Nazis. It's easy to see how that could be intepreted as simple mudslinging or propaganda--fascism is okay or environmentalists are bad depending on the predisposition of the reader.

Maybe the bottom line is how we choose our truths, by what actually reflects reality no matter how painful or comforting that might be, or by what makes us feel good.

Posted by Jeeves

2:25 PM, Apr 04, 2008

Great research Dr. Postman. Seriously. Now on to the ranting.

BIAW's search to frame environmental regulation as a spawn of Hitler is deplorable. It should signal our elected leaders how toxic BIAW's view of Washington truly is.

Our leaders need to reject and repudiate the BIAW (may be the same thing, but Hilary made a big deal out of it) . Politicians should return their hate money contributions when given and speak out about how far they have drifted from mainstream WA and common sense.

Posted by Particle Man

2:41 PM, Apr 04, 2008

I get the whole power of the federal government under GWB looks like the powers concentrated under Hitler, but lets be clear, this was never an academic story for BIAW. It was just an over the top and obvious effort to demonize environmental policy for the reading pleasure of the burn it and pave it contingent among BIAW membership.
Heck, Nixon was an environmentalist and he sought power by any means. So what would Musser conclude about him????
What a bloviating tool for the locust crowd.

Posted by Don Ward

2:41 PM, Apr 04, 2008

We all wait with bated breath the next time Postman takes the time to complain about a liberal or progressive interest group or Democratic politician who misuses the Nazi label.

Although you better put it in a press release format first...

The fact that many of the commenters below who are so aghast about the BIAW's provocative stance over the environmental policies of the National Socialist German Workers Party are the same ones who first resort to calling their political opponents "Nazis" is telling.

Posted by Mike

3:05 PM, Apr 04, 2008

Folks, "but the leftists all call Bush a Nazi" is not a defense. First of all, you saying it here does not make it true. Secondly, two wrongs don't make a right.

Unfortunately, calling people Nazis is a cheap rhetorical trick used by many people involved in US politics (from all sorts of perspectives). Rush rode "feminazis" to fame and fortune, for instance.

The bottom line here, as several people have pointed out, is that whether or not the Nazi party was "environmentalist", it has no bearing on whether environmentalism is a positive value or not. The fascists made the trains run on time, but no one says trains keeping their schedules is an evil, right?

The communists were developers on a massive scale, creating whole industrial cities and planned residential towns out of wilderness areas, but I'm not calling the BIAW communists because of that similarity.

Posted by doctorfixit

7:04 PM, Apr 04, 2008

There is no mistaking the methodology and the political philosophy of the worldwide environmental movement with Mussolinism and Hitlerism. They are one and the same. The environmental movement is at the same time Marxist, Leninist, and Hitlerian. It is marxist because it pits the elites against the proletariat in a dialectic class warfare. Leninist because it will use any tactic to advance its totalitarian ideology, and Hitlerian because it believes that its adherents are part of an elite master race that is entitled to inherit the earth and more ominously, to dramatically reduce human population by eradicating "the other". Behind every environmentalist decree is a hidden agenda - that the only way to comply with their goals is to reduce human population to a tiny fraction , or perhaps even zero, because to take environmentalism to its logical conclusion, mankind is the evil polluter who must be destroyed.

Posted by KS

8:39 PM, Apr 04, 2008

I don't necessarily agree with the way the BIAW presented the argument - they seemed to have been careless with labeling Environmentalists as Nazis, but instead they should have drawn parallels with Nazi's environmentalist tendencies and then labeled their policies as Fascistic, but been specific about which ones.

I will volunteer carbon credits as a fascistic policy borne out of the environmental movement, based largely on junk science. That also has a detrimental affect - by trying to control and manipulate people in the world on a premise that is shaky at best. Jonah Goldberg's book is an inconvenient truth that enrages the left, but it is difficult to dispute the claims made by "Liberal Fascism" without rewriting history or citing half-truths.

Posted by 2cents

9:38 PM, Apr 04, 2008

I am always sickened by people invoking Hitler and Nazism to promote their points, whether it's left or right.

I encourage Mark Musser to visit Dachau or Auschwitz and contemplate quietly on the millions of deaths caused by Hitler and the Nazi party. Maybe he would rethink blithely using those deaths to further the BIAW's agenda.

Posted by Fred Zarguna

10:09 PM, Apr 04, 2008

One can only hope that your print columns have the benefit of a professional editor.


Next time, could you at least *try* to make it interesting? I don't think I've ever read such a soporific rant. Ever.

Posted by upchuck

11:09 PM, Apr 04, 2008


actually there was plenty of anti-churchill ranting in the press (more so in the media local to him), so much so that he was forced out his job and lost his tenure as a prof... if we could only expect the same to happen to all the mussers of the world!

Posted by Vermando

2:27 AM, Apr 05, 2008

If you want to throw something back in their face, you can note that the Nazis were also ardent pro-lifers, passing the most stringent anti-abortion laws in German history. Moreover, unlike with their environmentalism, these policies they never renounced; they made the laws successively more restrictive as the years went on. By the idiotic logic of the crowd you were arguing with, the anti-abortion movement shows remarkable parallels with the Nazi agenda...

The Nazis did this, of course, because they did not want German mothers killing off any of the master race. As a Catholic, I don't feel that my beliefs are sullied by their nonsense, and neither should contemporary environmentalists.

Posted by swampleg

5:44 AM, Apr 05, 2008

The writings of a German Nazi who worked as an economist named Sombert has a pretty thorough description of the Nazi party environmental program and aspirations in his Hitler era writings. It sounds very similar to what many western radical greens believe today.

Having read that and some other Nazi era work, it is hard to conclude that the academics you cite are doing anything other than trying to pretend that modern radical greens are somehow different from thier intellectual forbears in the various fascist movements in Europe.

They present many distinctions that are trivial and ignore many similarities that are great. Indeed, I find it odd that academics are claiming their works are being misused. It can only be misused if the writings were created with a specific use in mind, i.e. if they were biased. Any neutral academic investigation will lead to the investigator finding some things that disagree with thier previous held beliefs.

Indeed, the same goes for Postman's column. Jonah Goldberg's book is relevant and Postman did not appear to even make an attempt to talk to him.


Posted by John

9:36 AM, Apr 05, 2008

It’s appalling how some people can use terms against another person and smile about it.
This same person will pick and chose what upsets them. When it’s the view of this person to show outrage he looks to see who’s there. If it’s foe he gets upset if it friend he goes on like nothing happen.

The history of Democrats over the past 20 +years is hate driven.

Posted by Bill

1:08 PM, Apr 05, 2008

If the goostepping boot fits...

Given Hillary's anti-smitic screech at Bill's former campoaign director....

Given how the Democrats ostracized Joe Liebermann for not toeing the line, and Liebermann happens to be a Jew....

Given how the Nazis were also animal rights activists....

Given how Ernst Roehm, founder and commander of the SA, revelled in his homosexuality....

If the Swastika, and its mindset, fit...wear it!

Posted by chas

6:15 PM, Apr 05, 2008

vermando your line "If you want to throw something back in their face, you can note that the Nazis were also ardent pro-lifers, passing the most stringent anti-abortion laws in German history. "

is way off base. you better check the nazi's fascination w/ eugenics and their involvement w/ margaret sanger, founder of planned parenthood.

as for this article i notice that postman went straight to musser's superiors at the magazine, no attempt to contact musser and have a dialogue. why would anyone do that? maybe to get pressure put on musser? if you really wanted to discuss the article and hash things out musser wouldve been the place to start but no, he goes straight to the boss. looks like trying to get someone in trouble. an attempt to supress a differing veiwpoint. something that could be thought of as a fascist tactic maybe? but no, the greens arent fascist and they would never try to deprive anyone of their rights!

Posted by PH

9:54 PM, Apr 05, 2008

What I found most fascinating was looking at the other articles in the BIAW rag that were around the article in question.

They aren't perhaps as inflamatory as the one we're discussing, but they head in the same direction.

It seems that the whole BIAW is drifting off towards insanity because if they were to somehow get the world they want by eating everyone else around them, they'd have to resort to eating each other.

It was wise of David Postman to bring this group's philosophy and mind-set to light.

It is difficult to see how a serious candidate for any political office can accept money from them, and I admit that at one time they were probably a reasonable representative of landowners' rights.

But how can Dino Rossi answer for some of the other headlines in that newspaper, let alone this one?

Do landowners in King County feel safer knowing that their interests are being represented by a bunch of crazy people?

I also believe that with the megahome fires in Woodinville spread because it was a BIAW philosophy to cover the entire county with one single roof, owned by them, and when one part burned, the whole thing went up.

It means that anyone else who wants to build a megahome will at least look at how close the dry 2x6's of his home's walls are to the dry 2x6's of his neihbor's walls and decide if he's going to pay millions for a house, it's going to have some space around it, at least enough for a firebreak.

And that drives the BIAW nuts.

Posted by Bob

12:32 AM, Apr 06, 2008

It looks like Musser is confusing his political ideologies, both in his article, and in his response to David's posting, which casts further disrepute upon his arguments. In both he freely mixes terms like Nazi, "Sovietesque" and Communist in assailing modern-day environmentalists, and those who regulate the environment and/or homebuilding. These are different ideologies, with different histories.

Furthermore, Musser has a disquieting talent for muting mention of the most indisputably accurate depiction of the Nazis -- that of genocidal racists, as opposed to tree-huggers. His references to this elephant in the room are oblique and seemingly dismissive: "[H]owever loaded with racism they MAY have been"; or stating of modern environmentalists that they "dislike humans in general, not just a particular race, which I would argue is actually more reprehensible than the former, as bad as the former MAY be." (Emphases added).

Coupled with Musser taking the environmental views of a few Nazis entirely out of context to present a distorted picture of Nazism, his failure to acknowledge the Holocaust's existence, quite apart from failing to unequivocally condemn both anti-Semitism and its genocidal consequences, does, at a minimum, diminish (if not impliedly deny) the Holocaust, and I cannot blame a survivor's descendent like Goldy for being apoplectic about that.

It would seem that equating the right-wing ideology of BIAW to the right-wing fascism behind Nazism is the far fairer comparison -- and even that is, of course, patently unfair. Thus it is utterly irrational of Musser to have gone down this path, and one fears his thesis can be not coincidentally juxtaposed with the religion of the enemy that they demonize the most in the same issue of Building Insight: homeowners' rights champion Senator Brian Weinstein.

I'm a little surprised that BIAW's 4-page insert denying the threat of global warming did not also raise David's eyebrows, particularly their junk science conclusion that it's attributable to eccentricities in the Earth's orbit. An appalling little magazine indeed. I would suggest that the WASL be administered to BIAW staff immediately.

Posted by N. O'Brain

6:30 AM, Apr 06, 2008

Sure, burning down research labs and new construction are NOTHING like burning down a Jewish business, is it?

"Scratch a lefty, you'll find a totalitarian."

-Kim du Toit

Posted by upchuck

10:02 PM, Apr 06, 2008

yes, and it was the DOE backed by every liberal in the state responsible for those arsons....

good grief!

Posted by Chris

7:20 AM, Apr 07, 2008

Hey Bob, better get Goldberg's book and read it.

Fascists were a development in response to the death of the dream of international communism due to WW-1. Instead they looked for a nationalized communism where all the citizens of one nation would stand together. Nazi's employed fascism focused on the german "race", which made their nationalism also racism. But fascists of all kinds happily employed the same tools that the communists did such as elimination of property rights.

So to call Fascists "right wing" doesn't map onto today's political landscape.

Posted by Richard

12:40 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Mr. Postman's ignorance of history is almost comical.

Posted by Wind Rider

7:46 AM, Apr 08, 2008

The problem with Mr. Postman's argument, and that of a number of his supporters in the comments about it is that they attack the straw man of enviros being credited as one of the fore-runners of the Nazi movement, and the attachment of all the baggage that goes along with the label Nazi. At which point the trump card of Godwin's Law is available to play, and so that's all settled, right?

The point isn't that the enviros spawned the Nazis, or that the Nazis are the ideological descendants of it - the point IS however, that the Nazis very ably incorporated various aspects (and methodologies) of environmentalism where and when doing so fit in with their overall, larger social engineering agenda - which is NOT at all different or removed from the assumption of the environmental mantra to further an overall, larger social engineering scheme (can anyone say carbon credit scheme? Can anyone think of any efforts to change people's basic behaviors 'for the good of the Planet', despite the evidence for doing so being rather speculative or outright dubious in validity?)

And in this respect, yes, today's 'eco-fascists' are a resounding 'echo' of fascists from years past...

Posted by rfjason

2:03 PM, Apr 08, 2008

This huge smear attempt against the BIAW is obvious and vulgar. Instead of rationally deconstructing the argument, you resort to emotional tactics of fear and politically correct sympathy mongering to make your point.

Posted by Withabeat

1:03 PM, Apr 10, 2008

-----This huge smear attempt against the BIAW is obvious and vulgar.------

It seems clear to me that it is the BIAW that is engaged in a smear campaign, aimed against all environmentalists. Have you read the articles in that March '08 newsletter?

Despite protestations by Mr. Musser in his response here, and by their PR person in a letter to the P-I, that no aspersions were cast towards mainstream environmental groups, I offer you this quote from his article where he equates environmentalists with not only Nazism but Communism as well:

"What environmentalists offer today, instead of the racist German National Socialism that defined the Nazi party, is an international environmental socialism, an amalgam of Nazism and communism".

Who's smearing who?

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