The right’s new red scare

THE RIGHT’S NEW RED SCARE…. The headline from the conservative Washington Times yesterday was certainly attention getting: “Obama climate czar has socialist ties.” The article reported that Carol Browner, set to become the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, was “listed as one of 14 leaders of a socialist group’s Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which calls for “global governance” and says rich countries must shrink their economies to address climate change.”

This, as one might imagine, caused quite a stir among far-right bloggers and media personalities. Glenn Beck pointed to the story to insisted that “almost everyone who does believe in global warming is a socialist.” Townhall ran a similar item, arguing that some [sic] in the “environmentalist movement ” are “merely fronts for the some collectivist, totalitarian, statist impulses that have reared their ugly heads throughout the 20th century with such devastating results for so many.” Drudge, naturally, promoted the story heavily.

Brad Johnson has a helpful piece, not only documenting how this story worked its way up through the conservative movement, but just as importantly, explaining why there’s less here than meets the eye.

The [Commission for a Sustainable World Society] first convened in November 2007 to “articulate from the world of progressive politics a way forward to address global environmental concerns, climate change and the issues of governance required to deal with these common challenges” at 10 Downing Street, hosted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Leader of the British Labour Party.

The Socialist International is “the worldwide organisation of social democratic, socialist and labour parties” from Albania to Zimbabwe. Its members include the center-left New Democratic Party of Canada, the center-left Israeli Labor Party, and the ruling Labour Party in Great Britain. The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, founded by the U.S. government to support democracy in developing nations, works with Socialist International and other political parties “to help foster open, accountable and responsive political systems.”

Also, it has the word “Socialist” in its name. Not only that, the press is calling Carol Browner the “climate czar.” In a leap worthy of Stephen Colbert or Monty Python, the radical right wing is claiming these are signs that Barack Obama is going to transform the United States into a leftist dictatorship. […]

That’s right, according to conservatives, Carol Browner’s meeting with the prime minister of Great Britain to discuss global warming is equivalent to the genocides of Stalin and Hitler.

When environmental organizations are led in part by former heads of state and convene meetings at 10 Downing Street, it sounds pretty mainstream. The right’s apoplexy is badly misplaced. Again.