Attorney General Merrick B. Garland recently announced the creation of an Office of Environmental Justice, which sounds like a plot device from a dystopian novel. Is it as damaging to liberty as it appears? In the olden days when justice meant justice, Garland’s new office might not have raised any alarms. But in the brave new world of woke language and social justice, words often are subversively given the opposite meaning.
Consider the first sentence of his official announcement:
“Environmental crime and injustice can happen anywhere, but communities of color, low-income communities, and Tribal communities often bear the highest burden of the harm caused by pollution and climate change.”
The rest details an agenda of race and intersectional power dynamics in which the majority is painted as the evildoer that needs to be hunted and punished in the name of “justice.” The office apparently will go after “crimes,” but does so based on claims that have either no evidence (the impact of climate change on minorities) or evidence that would never stand up in court (the claim that climate change will cause damage to the average American that warrants criminal prosecution).
For example, American oil producers may be targeted by the Department of Justice for causing harm (climate change) to minorities, and in a settlement, they would have to agree to pay damages to said minorities. Or perhaps selling or owning cars that run on fossil fuel could become a crime.
The logic behind this new initiative seems to be that President Joe Biden wants America to take climate action seriously. Since minority issues are in vogue now, minority concern is a convenient narrative to justify new incursions into liberty in the name of climate action.
The writer of a dystopian novel might have a nefarious supervillain create an Office of Environmental Justice. Literary critics would complain that the character is unrealistic and too much a stick figure to be taken seriously. It speaks volumes that real life is more parodic than fiction.
Leaving the newspeak aside, it is worth pondering that Garland was President Barack Obama’s candidate for the US Supreme Court, and, had his nomination moved forward, he might now be a justice. What he is now signing into policy likely reflects how he would have acted in that capacity.
Rather than entering lengthy legalese arguments, we can check his premises and ask simple questions: Would the Founding Fathers have approved of this new initiative? Is it within the intended purview of the Constitution? Not even remotely so.
They created constitutional checks and balances to curtail tyrants from using government power to enslave citizens – to protect individual liberty and not use minorities and vague distant future climate threats as weapons to persecute people.
Indeed, property rights already give individuals – minorities or otherwise – precisely the legal tool needed to protect them against environmental crimes. Therefore, no special Office of Environmental Justice is required.
On the contrary, such policies appear to be part of a larger pattern of behavior mimicking the boa constrictor. The predator tightens the grip every time its prey relaxes or is unable to fight the constriction, and it continues relentlessly until the victim is strangled and consumed. That happens only in dystopian novels, right?
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