I’m sure by now everyone has heard about James Lee, the homeless Korean-American man who, inspired by Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and enraged that his ideas for cable programming were rejected, stormed the Discovery Channel’s headquarters in Maryland, bandied a weapons, and took hostages. He might have been carrying a bomb.
Lee’s central demand was that the Discovery Channel revamp its primetime lineup.
We should be cautious reaching any sweeping conclusions about bizarre cases like one, regarding environmentalism, Asian immigration, or what have you. Lee was what people, before our age of therapy, called a lunatic. Sane people are all alike; every insane person is insane in his own way.
That said, commentators and activists love to latch on to sensational news stories like this one for the sake of their own pet projects (much as the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, by another crazed Korean, was turned into a call for gun control.) My sense is that the Discovery Channel Gunman will lend himself to many a “You know what that leads to…” argument.
Obviously, conservatives and libertarians will use Lee in making accusations that the EPA has an “anti-Human” agenda and the like. (Though it should be noted that a global movement, of sorts, based on extreme misanthropy and eco-terrorism does exist. And in 2008, Discovery Channel, which Lee found so comprised and disappointing, aired a series entitled 10,000 Years After People.)
And, I’m afraid, “You know where that leads to…” will be used against right-wingers, for Lee wasn’t just an environmental fanatic but a eugenicist, Malthusian, and immigration restrictionist, to boot.
Thus reads demand number 5 from his manifesto:
5. Immigration: Programs must be developed to find solutions to stopping ALL immigration pollution and the anchor baby filth that follows that. Find solutions to stopping it. Call for people in the world to develop solutions to stop it completely and permanently. Find solutions FOR these countries so they stop sending their breeding populations to the US and the world to seek jobs and therefore breed more unwanted pollution babies. FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM TO STOP THEIR HUMAN GROWTH AND THE EXPORTATION OF THAT DISGUSTING FILTH! (The first world is feeding the population growth of the Third World and those human families are going to where the food is! They must stop procreating new humans looking for nonexistant jobs!)
The SPLC has already “associated” Lee with immigration restrictionists (in its usual way of bringing up two things that aren’t logically or casually related in the same article and … well … letting the organization’s hysteric readers reach their own conclusions.)
The argument that immigration fuels environmental degradation has become increasingly popular in nativist circles. In late July, in fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a special report — “Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism & the Hypocrisy of Hate” — that detailed how right-wing immigration restrictionists were attempting to appeal to environmentalists to join their battle. The report suggested that most of those making such appeals were disingenuous about their interest in the environment, and were merely cynically seeking allies.
That doesn’t seem to be the case with Lee, who seems to have started out as an environmentalist, but one who became more and more extreme.
Salon has offered the theory, semi-ironically, I think, that Malthus made him do it.
No doubt, the Religious Right will go nuts (so to speak) with this one in that it has found a mad man who’s identifiably “liberal” and who references Darwin and wants to abort non-White babies as “DISTGUSTING FILTH.”
I fear that we will never hear the end of the deranged Mr. Lee.
UPDATE: Not five minutes after posting this blog, I was emailed a link to this post from The Discovery Institute's David Klinghoffer, who associates Darwin with James Lee along with everything but the kitchen sink:
My purpose here, of course, isn't to suggest that Darwinism drives people mad or anything like that, but merely to point out, as I've done in the past, the strange attraction Darwinian theory exerts on some people who are crazy, or wicked, or both. This is a truth that's suppressed again and again, yet it remains true.
Witness the recent examples of Holocaust Memorial Museum shooter James von Brunn, Columbine High School shooter Eric Harris, Jokela High School shooter Pekka Eric Auvinen. Historical figures who drew inspiration, if indirectly, from Darwinian theory include Charles Manson, Mao Tse-tung, Joseph Stalin, Josef Mengele, and of course Adolf Hitler. I've written about this many times before ... There's also an interesting connection between Darwinism and modern occult theories.