Op-Ed

‘Fourth Reich’ is coming to incinerate the planet

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general nominated to head Environmental Protection Agency
Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general nominated to head Environmental Protection Agency

For me, it’s the last straw. I’m referring to the nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. His nomination confirms the fact that the U.S. government has entirely lost its legitimacy.

I’m not just referring to the idiosyncrasies of an antiquated U.S electoral system. It’s not just that we will again find ourselves under an administration demonstrably unsupported by the majority of U.S. citizens. (Donald Trump lost the popular vote by at least 2.7 million votes.)

No, my claim is more stark. It is that the Pruitt nomination evokes the right to revolution as outlined in the Declaration of Independence.

Pruitt is the Oklahoma attorney general who hates the EPA and has made a career out of suing it for what he calls regulation “overreach.” By that he means laws expressing excessive concern about climate change — an issue he considers “far from settled.”

As a climate-change denier, Pruitt not only sets himself against the conclusions of 97 percent of climate scientists. He also contradicts the will of virtually the entire world as expressed in the recently concluded COP 22 climate meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco.

There, the Congress of Parties agreed on the necessity of strict regulations of carbon emissions in order to avoid climate catastrophe threatening to deprive our grandchildren of a humanly inhabitable planet.

Such irrational imposition of personal bias on the entire world evokes memories not only of Hitler’s Third Reich, but urgent recollection of the brave words of the Declaration of Independence. There Thomas Jefferson described the purpose of government and the circumstances that remove its lawful status. Jefferson wrote:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it. . .”

In the context of a Pruitt EPA appointment, Jefferson’s relevant points include:

▪ All of us (not just fetuses) have the basic right to life.

▪ The purpose of government is to secure that right.

▪ When governments destroy the basic right to life, they lose legitimacy.

The people then have the duty to overthrow them.

With the nomination of Pruitt, Trump promises to make human life as we know it impossible. Pruitt thus becomes the embodiment of a genocide far worse than Adolf Hitler’s. Hitler incinerated 6 million Jews, communists, socialists, gypsies, homosexuals and other “misfits.”

Pruitt’s nomination signifies the intention of the Trump administration to incinerate us all — or at best to leave our grandchildren with nothing but a planetary wasteland.

The question now remains what to do about this unprecedented disaster.

Setting aside Jefferson’s suggestion of armed revolution, it means we all must at least find our voices and denounce the emerging Fourth Reich. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A time comes when silence means betrayal.”

In addition, responding to Trumpism entails getting out of our comfort zones, taking to the streets and working every day to save the planet for posterity.

Reach Mike Rivage-Seul, a retired Berea College professor, at Mike_Rivage-Seul

@berea.edu.

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