A group in White City, Ore., has opened a broad attack on teaching environmental sustainability in our public schools and universities, calling it the kind of brainwashing Lenin and Hitler would do.
Operation Green Out, ran two full-page ads in The Oregonian,
Oregon’s largest daily newspaper, earlier this year. They
warned of a covert plot by the "international Green Party" to
manipulate our school-aged kids into thinking green.
might say this is at least better than programming kids to think
"red," as in communist. But the ad’s sponsor says that red is
the true color of the greens -- sort of like a watermelon: green on
the outside, red on the inside.
Operation Green Out is an
enigmatic organization. It is not a registered nonprofit
organization, it has no listed telephone number, refuses to
disclose its revenue sources and will not give out its street
address. In its ads, it asked: "Why are political extremists
targeting our kids?"
Operation Green Out’s
self-supplied answer: "It’s a political tactic perfected by
dictators like Lenin and Hitler who brainwashed kids as a means to
take over a nation." Green extremists, the ads went on, know that
"if they brainwash America’s children they control
Just think of it: A vast
international conspiracy discovered by a small organization right
there in White City, Ore., population 6,000. One thing that really
has Operation Green Out steamed is a collective (oops! bad word)
effort by several nonprofit organizations, educational
organizations and businesses such as Nike to promote "education for
sustainability" in the classrooms of colleges and public schools.
Spearheading that effort is Second Nature, an
internationally known nonprofit that works with hundreds of
universities and businesses across the country. Its approach is to
make sustainability a foundation of their teaching and practice.
Second Nature and its partners define education for sustainability
as empowering society’s future leaders, teachers and business
professionals to solve problems facing our planet, to help college
campuses save resources, to improve the health and economies of
local communities, and to work to build a just, secure and healthy
society, with economic opportunities for all.
harmless enough. So I asked Holly Swanson, Operation Green
Out’s founder, what could be subversive about teaching kids
to respect ecological systems? She told me it’s a smokescreen
for a revolution that seeks to transform our culture and our
political and economic systems into something that "mirrors
Nike’s normally sharp capitalists
apparently missed this point.
Swanson said the conspiracy
is pervasive, but she could not identify a university or school
district that had been contaminated.
When I asked Swanson
for specific examples of brainwashing, I was directed to the Web
site of the Oregon State University Extension Service, and a story
about the eco-worries of sixth-graders in Corvallis. In the
article, 11-year-old Wyatt Moum says he is concerned that when he
is an adult, many animal species clinging to the edge of extinction
will be gone.
Operation Green Out thinks this youngster
has been brainwashed. But the World Conservation Union says species
are vanishing even faster than during the extinction episode 70
million years ago, when the dinosaurs disappeared.
group called the World Conservation Union is probably not apt to
cut much ice with Operation Green Out, though. The group’s
very name has the word "union" in it -- by definition a
collectivist term (red flag!).
Out’s $10,000 ads contained no substantiation for their
charges. When I asked for corroborative sources, Swanson told me
twice that I could buy her book, "Set Up & Sold Out," for $20
Operation Green Out is, of course, free to
market its views even when they seem to promote ignorance of the
environment. But by smearing the loyalty of citizens with whom it
disagrees, the organization is engaging in guilt by association,
red-baiting and trying to chill freedom of expression. Now, you
tell me who really threatens American values?
thing: Holly Swanson said she hopes Operation Green Out’s
work will "bring Americans together." She asked if I would be sure
to mention it in this piece.