Year 3, Month 5, Day 17: The Changer Things Are, The Samer They Get

The Washington Post is one of many papers addressing the Heartland Institute’s shark-jumping:

A stark mug shot of domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski briefly took center stage in the increasingly ugly debate over climate change Friday as the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank funded by major corporations, launched a billboard campaign equating people convinced that global warming is real to the convicted killer.

“I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” read big orange letters next to the Unabomber’s infamously grizzled face on an electronic billboard along the Eisenhower Expressway outside Chicago, the Heartland Institute’s home.

The billboard went live Thursday afternoon. But by 4 p.m. Eastern time, an outcry from allies and opponents alike led the Heartland Institute’s president, Joe Bast, to say he would switch off the sign within the hour.

By the time this surfaces on the blog, of course, the story will be old news. But Heartland’s people will still be assholes of brobdingnagian proportions. Sent May 7:

According to the Heartland Institute, the fact that various unsavory individuals have expressed concern about climate change is ipso facto an argument against the existence of anthropogenic global warming. Pooh. Ted Kaczynski probably mentioned the law of gravity somewhere in his screeds, but that doesn’t mean we should reject Isaac Newton’s math.

The grotesque billboards positing a false equivalency between a worldwide scientific consensus and the deluded rantings of Charles Manson and the Unabomber are a new version of an old trick: guilt by association. During the fifties and sixties, Khrushchev criticized American racism — and in response, segregationist politicians labeled Martin Luther King a communist. Unable to argue away the facts of the climate crisis, Heartland Institute can only resort to name-calling.

Aside from demonstrating the susceptibility of American conservatives to irrelevant ad-hominem arguments, Heartland’s latest stunt only reminds us: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Warren Senders

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