Argumentum Ad Hitlerum: Climate Change Denial Edition

As readers of this blog might know, one of my pet peeves is ridiculous comparisons of random things to Adolf Hitler that I find on the Internet. Here we go again.

Argumentum ad Hitlerum
Argumentum ad Hitlerum

This time, the culprit is a corporate-funded climate change denialist who apparently does not consider it beneath him to smear the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change by comparing it to the persecution of Jews under Adolf Hitler. You read that last sentence correctly.

As progressive media watchdog website Media Matters for America reports, Exxon-funded physicist William Happer—who is not a climatologist, mind you—appeared on CNBC recently, and was, to CNBC’s great shame, presented as an ‘industry expert.’

Happer claimed that

“the demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”

Where to start here? First, you cannot murder carbon dioxide. But six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. To insinuate that corporations with a high carbon dioxide footprint, such as Exxon, are persecuted like Jews in the Third Reich is just obscene.

Second, climatologists do not ‘demonize’ carbon dioxide as such. This is a total straw man argument. In reality, climatologists examine the effects of the high amount of greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere. The general scientific consensus, as compiled by the IPCC is very clear: humans are a factor in the rising temperatures on this planet. You can read about it here. Climate change denial is at this point willfully deceptive.

Christian Fundamentalism, Tea Party Libertarianism, and the Government Shutdown

How Christian Fundamentalism Distracts From Real Political Problems in America

To fundamentalist Christians in America, the government shutdown, a potential debt default, and the destruction of the environment do not matter in the grand scheme of things.

The western front of the United States Capitol. The Neoclassical style building is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. By United_States_Capitol_-_west_front.jpg: Architect of the Capitol derivative work: O.J. (United_States_Capitol_-_west_front.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AUnited_States_Capitol_west_front_edit2.jpg
The western front of the United States Capitol. The Neoclassical style building is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. By United_States_Capitol_-_west_front.jpg: Architect of the Capitol derivative work: O.J. (United_States_Capitol_-_west_front.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AUnited_States_Capitol_west_front_edit2.jpg
A recent article on AlterNet by Amanda Marcotte highlights how Christian fundamentalists among the Republican party leadership and their base do not care about the actual detrimental real-world effects of their obstructionist policies such as the current (October 2013) government shutdown and the battle over raising the debt ceiling.

Tea Party libertarianism meets Christian fundamentalism

Her conclusion, based on various polls, is that the Tea Party Movement, whose economic libertarian ideology plays out right now in these grand showdowns, is also influenced by Christian fundamentalism more than usually assumed. A Pew poll showed that supporters of the TPM “are likely to cite religious belief as their prime motivation for their political views.”

Obamacare as sign of the end times

One strain of American Christian fundamentalists think that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, colloquially called Obamacare, will reign in the biblical end times and believe they must do anything in their power to stop it from happening.

Marcotte sums up that perception of reality in these terms:

Sure, crashing stock markets, soaring unemployment, and worldwide economic depression sounds bad, but for the Christian right, the alternative is fire and brimstone and God unleashing all sorts of hell on the world.

Anticipating the end of the world

On the other hand, some Christian fundamentalists with notable Tea Party credentials, including Rep. Michele Bachman, founder of the Tea Party Caucus and one-time presidential contender cheer what they interpret as signs of biblical end times (such as violent conflict in Syria). Bachman wrongly claims that Obama intentionally supports Al Quaeda by providing aid to Syrian rebel groups and opines that the conflict in Syria is indeed a sign of the biblical end times.

This fits neatly with a recent right-wing conspiracy on the Internet claiming that during the government shutdown, President Obama had paid out of his own pocket for a museum of Muslim culture. As it turned out, FOX News had unknowingly, or intentionally ignoring the dubious source, reported a story from satirical news site The National Report. In the past years, numerous baseless allegations have been made from the same general direction (Tea Party Movement) about Obama being a Crypto-Muslim (read terrorist).

Add to that the fact that in 2013, according to a poll by the liberal-leaning PPP, 20 percent of Republicans and 6 percent of Democrats believed that Obama is the biblical Antichrist (!).

A similar line of (un-)reasoning holds true for the issue of climate change. To Christian fundamentalists who intentionally ignore scientific facts, such as the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the human influence on climate change, climate change is not real or no problem. In their view, the world will either not end until Jahweh wills it so, or they do not worry because they believe in the return of Jesus in their lifetime.

Other-worldliness is the problem and offers no solutions to this world

As you might have guessed, I personally consider Rep. Bachmann’s end times beliefs to be dangerous, irrational, and irresponsible delusions, especially regarding US foreign policy in the Middle East.

From a reality-based outlook, the thinking of American fundamentalist Christians is no less scary than that of Iranian mullahs, Afghan taliban, or the Saudi religious police.

True, in America there is still the tiny obstacle of democracy, but it does not take much to observe how fundamentalist Christianity works to subvert it and attempts to transform the US into a theocracy. The school textbook wars, the battle over reproductive choice, or high-level self-styled holy warriors within the US military imagining themselves as Christian bulwark against the ‘Muslim hordes’ are just some of the fronts this confrontation takes place.

More generally, the problem of other-worldliness extends to fundamentalists of all religions, everwhere. In my view, any religious zealot eager to see the end of the world, especially those with (potential) access to nuclear weapons and other WMDs, deserves extremely close scrutiny and must be kept away from the ‘red button’ at all costs (preferably, by not electing them to any meaningful office in the first place).

Even if one discards the horrifying apocalyptic scenario of religious zealots using WMDs to bring about the end times and returns to the mundane issues of government and the economy, the prospects for those of us living in this world do not become brighter in the face of willful indifference.

A prolonged government shutdown will cause continued suffering among the weakest in American society. Representatives and Senators in Congress, most of whom are millionaires, will on the other hand never personally feel the effects of the power play they are engaged in. Even worse, a government default in the US would have detrimental effects on the interconnected economies of the world.

Those who merely look for another world for salvation and are willing to let this one go to pieces are the problem.