Thomas Sowell

First they destroyed the gasoline station, so that you have to drive miles out of your way to get gas. Then they destroyed a parking lot. Now they want to destroy a dam and a reservoir that supplies more than 2 million people with water.

 No, these are not al-Qaeda terrorists. These are our own home-grown fanatics -- and the places mentioned are all in Yosemite National Park.

 They call themselves environmentalists but a more accurate term would be green bigots. What makes someone a bigot is that he wishes to deny other people the same rights he has. That is the hallmark of the environmental zealot.

 Green bigots operate internationally, just like the more famous fanatics. They are trying to stop a hydroelectric dam from being built in Uganda and they have already succeeded in getting "nature preserves" created in various parts of Africa -- which is to say, vast amounts of land where Africans are forbidden to hunt for food because the green bigots prefer keeping the land "natural."

 African economist James Skikwati in Kenya put the case against affluent Western environmental extremists very plainly when he said, "wealthy countries want the Earth to be green, the underdeveloped want the Earth fed." He asked: "What gives the developed nations the right to make choices for the poor?"

 A hydroelectric dam in Uganda would bring electricity to millions of Africans but it would also annoy the delicate sensibilities of environmentalists in Berkeley who like waterfalls.

 By and large, the green bigots use politics, nuisance lawsuits, and physical obstruction, rather than violence, but some of them do not hesitate to booby-trap trees, threatening those who cut them down with injury or death. And they use the media to spin their party line.

 A recent newspaper story -- headlined "Renaissance at Yosemite" -- refers to new restrictions on people who visit Yosemite National Park, created at the urging of environmentalist groups. "The fight to get people out of cars and onto bikes and buses has been won after years of bitter wrangling," the story says.

 If people wanted to get out of their cars and onto bikes and buses, they could have done this at any time and without any wrangling. We are talking about green bigots forcing millions of visitors to Yosemite to do what the green bigots want, rather than what the visitors themselves want.

 Such ego trips by coteries of self-exalting people are treated in the media as idealism, rather than the petty tyranny it is.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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