Kelley Ross, retired philosophy professor
One site I’ve mention before is Friesian.com. In terms of content, it’s one of the best websites created: tons of great stuff for history and philosophy lovers. Unfortunately, as mention in a previous post, the site’s creator, Kelley Ross, is also deeply emeshed in Republican politics. He considers himself to be a Libertarian, but has become more and more of a Neo-Con as time has passed.
The following is the first of several emails I wrote him, starting back in 2007. My main complaints were with his page on Ayn Rand, which said: “With exquisite irony, just as the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Empire fell in the years 1989-1991, American 60’s radicals, who were essentially Communist sympathizers, were completing their takeover of American higher education and other “circles,” as the Soviets used to say, of the American intelligentsia,” and “Early in 2003, the Left, with their useful idiot supporters in Hollywood and anti-American (i.e. anti-capitalist) forces around the world, committed themselves to protecting the neo-Nazi dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein.” On another webpage about climate change, he claimed that: “There are many who may sincerely believe this scenario, but with far too many activists it is a smoke-screen for an “agenda” (as they like to say) for something very different: for a virtuous eco-poverty (as in Cuba) and a government that will make the “hard choices” of forcing people into that poverty (as in Cuba).”
I’ve added his reply and my reply to it in the comments section below. I’m not particularly happy with the letter now since the arguments come off as stale and sloppy, not to mention the fact that the way I move from appeasingly polite to aggressively accusatory and back again makes me come off as a tad bipolar. I also no longer consider myself to be a “left-leaning Libertarian.” But I wanted to post the other emails I sent so I figured I should go ahead and start with the first one:
Letter 1: Climate scientists are “whores” and “We will be their peons”
I wanted to write you to let you know that I think your website is my absolute favorite in terms in history and philosophy, but my least favorite in the realm of politics. I especially loved Decadence, Rome and Romania, the Emperors Who Weren’t and Other Reflections. It has greatly helped in putting to rest with certain people the often-heard fantasy that Rome “fell” for ethical reasons. I was especially impressed by the level of professionalism you used in the piece in criticizing Christianity on your website without ever attacking it, something I have found lacking in books such as God Against the Gods by Jonathan Kirshe.
The same is not true for your politics. Your accusations in this department rate up there with Ann Coulter. American 60’s radicals were essentially Communist sympathizers? You know, I didn’t live back then (I’m 29), but I’m pretty sure Woodstock wasn’t about overthrowing the government and replacing it with a worker’s Utopia. The real objective in environemntalism is not to protect the future generations from man-made disasters but to curb economic growth and ensure people are living in poverty? What, no super death ray? You know, I could try to make a similar argument that the Right actually wants the world to end so that all non-Christians can hurry up and burn in fiery hell forever and point to the Left Behind series as proof, but that would be pejorative. Then there’s the accusation that the Left committed themselves to protect the “neo-Nazi” Saddam Hussein. This is a truly ironic accusation from the Right considering the shameful support Saddam got for 20 years previous to the Gulf War in order to shift trade away from the Soviet Union. Even after the Gulf War, the rebellions against Saddam received no support from the U.S. because everyone knew the choas that would result in a Post-Saddam Iraq, and sure enough it did. But its funny that those who now accuse the Peace Movement of being Saddam sympathisizers had no complaints when the atrocities were actually happening.
But that’s indicative of the Right, who still blame the Islamic Revolution on Carter for not maintaining relations with the tyrannical Shaw without even considering that part of the Iranian resentment may have come from Eisenhower and the British deposing a democratically-elected Prime Minister in order to reverse the nationalization of the Iranian Oil company now known as BP. Yes, and why shouldn’t the Iranians come up and hug us after we helped associate our Western values with corruption and Soviet-style secret police? At least Eisenhower figured out at the end how the military industrial complex were parasitically fermenting this kind of ideology and gave a speech warning us to that effect before he left office. This same war profiteering can be seen today with Halliburton and Lockheed Martin, the latter of whom pays for commercials on CNN assuring us “We never forget who we’re working for.” (My question is, if the company has no private consumers and only sells weapons to to the government, who are they advertising to?) And, although I do consider myself a left-leaning Libertarian, I would also like to point out that it was the Libertarians who were against fighting the original Nazis in WW2, since (just as today) they are against all non-defensive wars, especially wars of aggression, which includes this adventure into Iraq that the far Right still indignantly defends despite being wrong on every prediction that was made.
I was especially dismayed about your page on Unstoppable Global Warming. True, Albert Einstein isn’t going to be called a bastard because of his skepticism of quantum mechanics, but then again, nothing is at stake in that argument. When you set aside the verdict of the majority of climate scientists and are willing to risk disasterous reprecussions on the earth because global warming skepticism better fits your economic philosophy, you are taking on a huge responsibility, one that a single web page on the subject doesn’t remedy. And if you’re going to take offense to that, you may want to rethink calling Noam Chomsky a lunatic since he is well-read and whether you agree or disagree with him, his arguments do make more sense than Ann Coulter’s suggestion that we invade all Islamic countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity (I noticed her book is on your bibliography). And I would like to see proof that “unlimited government and command economics” means more “money and power” for Gore and his friends, especially since you seem skeptical that Bush, Cheney, and Rice would have any invested interest in the subject despite the fact that they came to the election directly off the rig.
You site three studies that do not agree very well saying that carbon dioxide is unrelated to temperature, but the graph at RealClimate.org shows a 90% correlation, and I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to take the word of a climate scientist over that of a philosopher.
My question is, shouldn’t a “conservative” take the safest route? Risking mass extinctions and global famine for the sake of oil expansion doesn’t seem like the “conservative” approach to me. Even if the chances for this happening were at 10% instead of 90%, are nuclear power and alternative fuels really so poor a substitute that we shouldn’t even bother investing in them for the future? Are we really going to try and pretend that the oil companies work in some free market economy completely independent of the government and foreign policy? As seen in the second article I have linked there, Tony Blair backs a study done that global warming will cause 40% of earth’s species to become extinct, cause the global economy to shrink 20%, and will cause water shortages for 1 in 6 people. Shouldn’t that mean something to someone interested in “conserving” the way things are now? Even Bush has left his previous stance of “needing more research” and has made the “liberal talking point” that we are addicted to oil and need to get off it, something much akin to a drug dealer telling a customer to cut down. So who exactly can you say is “on your side” now other than Micheal Chriton? You also say that the ones who would most be hurt by any due changes are the non-Industrialized countries, yet the fact that they are the ones getting a free ride are exactly what has helped drum up so much support against Kyoto.
Cutting oil dependence would also ensure that no American money is used in terrorist plots against us, but even that doesn’t phase the morally indignant Right. Instead, scare tactics are used to associate the Drug War with the War on Terrorism. The Right was horrified that border guards who illegally shot a Mexian marijuana smuggler then tried to cover up their crime by filing false reports would actually be punished as if what they did was a crime, but they could care less that the government, still expounding a “Zero Tolerance” policy, is actively protecting the explosion of poppy growth in Afghanistan that would never have been allowed under the Taliban. By continuing the War on Drugs, they ensure the crop will yield maximum profit for our allies, which goes to show that if anything, buying smack helps the War on Terrorism.
But what really gets me is the contempt you have for the people who take up the cause, with these green and “watermelon” rats that say “Global Warming Scaremongering,” as if the answer to the question is doesn’t even deserve contemplation. *Of course* climate scientists from many different countries and backgrounds are all participating in a global conspiracy to limit America’s economic growth. Everyone knows they’re really just neo-Communists working to put everyone back on the farm. We shouldn’t even “fear” that it might happen since it goes against the economics of Thomas Jefferson. I want to let you know that Jefferson is one of my personal heroes, but I think if he was alive today, he would say worrying about the planetary catastrophe takes precedence over worrying about the American economy. For that matter, he’d probably say that gun nuts should just chill out because he included the freedom to bear arms so that the U.S. government wouldn’t get too uppity, not because he thought gun collectors deserved the right to shoot machine guns with armor piercing bullets. And his statements would probably make him as hated by the Religious Right now as he was in his own time.
I’m sorry so much of this e-mail is negative, but its always easier to talk about what you disagree with than what you agree with. Once again, I’d like to point out that no one has put up another site that even comes close to rivaling yours in impeccable content. I also included a link below to my web site on the historical Jesus, which I thought you might find interesting.