MSNBC's Chris Hayes: Preventing Global Warming Is Like Freeing Slaves

MSNBC's Chris Hayes: Preventing Global Warming Is Like Freeing Slaves

In The Nation magazine MSNBC host Christopher Hayes spent thousands of words and four web pages explaining how those working at preventing global warming are somehow just like the abolitionists who fought to free the slaves just prior to the American Civil War.

Calling it a “new abolitionism,” Hayes opens his article rehashing the South’s “peculiar institution,” pegging its long life to “so much goddamn money.” Then he segues into likening today’s global warming alarmists to those moralists and abolitionists of old.

After 11 paragraphs of making this comparison, Hayes then weakly states, “So before anyone misunderstands my point, let me be clear and state the obvious: there is absolutely no conceivable moral comparison between the enslavement of Africans and African-Americans and the burning of carbon to power our devices.”

But this one-line disclaimer is hard to take seriously when he goes on with over 4,600 words proving his blithe denial to be a sham. He fully intends to compare the abolition of slavery to the religious cause of global warming. And, perhaps, that is all they really do have in common: a religious fervor on behalf of the believers.

The abolition of slavery, after all, was God’s work to folks like Theodore Parker, James Russell Lowell, Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, and a host of other abolitionists. They believed it with the intensity of religion. Even “science” at that time often insisted that people of African descent were mentally, physically, and morally inferior. It took an act of faith to defy the scientific (and cultural) “consensus,” if you will.

Similarly, today’s global warmists believe in their religion with an intensity that turns any questioning of their “facts” into heresy, not just disagreement. And there are those who doubt the shaky “consensus,” too.

But, despite Hayes’ best efforts, there is nothing but the most tenuous of similarities between the political, economic, and social conditions that fueled slavery and today’s global warming fight.

Hayes’ chief mistake is to view slavery solely in economic terms. This is a mistake that many make, and it is easy to do. There wasn’t much by way of physical wealth in the South (like cash money, for instance), except slaves. Slaves and land were what made a man rich in that era, and the sudden elimination of slavery would have impoverished thousands of very rich and powerful men. It is hard to imagine this happening without the war to dispense with slavery.

So, in that way, it almost makes sense to compare the wealth of slavery to that of the fossil fuels industry. A sudden abolition of fossil fuels might seem just as hard to accept as the sudden end of slavery in 1860.

Ultimately, the comparison is inapt because slavery was not merely an economic problem. It was also a cultural and political problem that was in nearly every way wildly different from the fight over global warming.

Further, the slavery problem was located solely in this country on the eve of the Civil War in 1860. We fought ourselves over it, we killed ourselves over it, and we warred with ourselves over it. We had fully isolated ourselves with slavery. We weren’t dealing with the rest of the world over the institution. So what we did about slavery mattered not at all to the rest of the world, and what they did or didn’t do had no direct or immediate effect on us in return.

But if we were to consider global warming to be something we must address–as the abolitionists did with slavery–today’s issue is a worldwide problem, not one centralized and isolated in the U.S. Even if we Americans stopped using fossil fuels this very minute, it wouldn’t matter even a tiny bit to the actual global warming problem as the warmists perceive it. That is because India, China, and every other nation would continue using their fossil fuels, making our purportedly heroic efforts not just pointless, but self-destructive.

Imagine if we fought the Civil War, losing 650,000 Americans in the process, thought we eliminated slavery, and then millions of slaves from other nations just flooded back into our country. It would have made the great loss a pointless exercise, for sure. This is what would happen if we destroyed ourselves over global warming while the rest of the world dallied.

Yes, there are certainly some superficial, economic-based similarities between slavery and the fossil fuels industry when viewing them as isolated within our borders. But the supposed problem of global warming is not “our” problem. If the warmists are to be believed, it is the world’s problem–and not one that really has anything to do with morality, religion, or human rights.

Worse, it is utterly insulting to compare the left’s political goals of centrally controlling our lives using the excuse of global warming–arguably itself an immoral cause–to the very moral human rights issue of eliminating the enslavement of African Americans!

Comparing the left’s political goal of central control to the movement for civil rights is yet one more disgusting example of the belittling of those rights.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at