By Kate Jaimet, The Ottawa Citizen April 23, 2010
Hours after mayor Larry O’Brien celebrated Earth Day with a speech and ceremonial tree-planting, his chief of staff, Brent Colbert, sent out a message on Twitter linking Earth Day to eugenics and forced starvation.
“Before you wish me a happy earthday they better have studied the shameful past of this ideology eugenics, forced starvation,” read the message on the social networking website.
Contacted by the Citizen to explain the posting, Colbert said the message represented his personal opinion, but agreed that he identified himself on his Twitter profile as the mayor’s chief of staff.
Colbert said he wrote the message in response to messages from people wishing him a “Happy Earth Day.” He said he believed people should research the history of Earth Day before associating themselves with it.
“Some of the people who promoted and first started the notion of Earth Day and whatnot go back and follow a history of support for eugenics, support for forced starvation and population control, through government rationing, things like that,” Colbert said.
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970, as an “environmental teach-in” by U.S. senator Gaylord Nelson.
Nelson, a prominent environmentalist, worked on legislation in Congress to protect the Appalachian Trail and to ban the use of the pesticide DDT. Nelson hired Denis Hayes, a Harvard University graduate student, to help organize the event.
Asked to name a person or group that is a present-day Earth Day supporter and eugenicist, Colbert said he could not think of one “off the top of my head.”
However, he said there was a shared intellectual history between the Earth Day movement and the ideas of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who died in 1966, four years before the first Earth Day.
(SANGER’S Eugenic ideas exposed in the film: Maafa21)
“She was a eugenicist, believed that the weak and feeble-minded should be bred out of society because they were a drain on the resources of the planet. So there’s all that kind of stuff,” Colbert said.
He also said that early Earth Day celebrants drew upon the ideas of Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford University professor whose 1968 book The Population Bomb predicted mass starvation as a result of human overpopulation.
“Some of the people (were) talking about the fact that the planet was unsustainable and we’d have to take action to limit populations if we wanted to protect it and whatnot,” Colbert said.
Colbert said that concerns about a clean environment and the proper use of resources were “very valid.”
However, Colbert said he believed there was still a connection between Earth Day and eugenics. “There are still people that are doing research in terms of the issue of the overpopulation of the planet and things like that and it seems to coalesce around some of the things with Earth Day.”
In his Earth Day speech this morning, O’Brien said: “Earth Day highlights something that’s extremely important to all residents of the world, and that is the protection of our planet.”
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