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A Different Kind of Protester: Conservative College Students Hit Bonn

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A Different Kind of Protester: Conservative College Students Hit Bonn

Horner Op-Ed in National Review Online

Horner Op-Ed in National Review Online

“College Students Protest Climate Negotiations,'' is the headline equivalent of "Sun Rises in the Morning''. But wait. The 40 bookworms taking to the streets of Bonn this week screamed their support for George W. Bush and objection to the U.N. Kyoto Protocol. That treaty, addressing the theory of "man-made catastrophic global warming," is being further negotiated here this week amid U.S. calls to start over.

The students were accompanied by costumed characters mocking environmental doomsayers, including a six-foot chicken, and a cow who believes that blaming the weather on her flatulence is a little odd (other bovine emission). These aggrieved "Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow'' drew a large crowd and even the attention of gathered international media. The latter fact so enraged the Left that they demanded a debate.

That's right, student protesters from Greenpeace insisted they share the stage with that "other'' perspective. The moderator was fairly accurately described to the Greenpeacers as an ogre who has said horrible things to their leaders on television. Still, moderate I did, with Solomonic evenhandedness and wisdom.

Central casting came through with the six debaters: On the Left, a racially and sexually diverse cast from Harvard, Berkeley, and the Fletcher School; on the Right, three white males from small Christian institutions such as the colleges of Cedarville and Patrick Henry ("give me affordable energy or give me death'').

No ground was broken, but entertainment abounded. Given the schoolyard nature of much of the Left's arguments in favor of energy suppression, the conservatives responded in kind with "I'll show you mine if you show me yours',' citing a petition signed by over 17,000 such dissenters. The Greenpeacers dismissed this list by (inaccurately) claiming it currently includes Spice Girls and cartoon characters.

What motivated these youths to travel at their own expense to this torpid festival of U.S.-abuse? "We have a mandate. George W. Bush was elected on a platform of practical environmentalism,'' said Robert Bauer, a conservative student at Georgetown University.

These students took it upon themselves to try and impact the process. As to why they feel suited to argue with U.N. scientists, Cedarville's Alex Kauffman patiently explained, "This is about environmentalists and scientists competing with cancer research, illiteracy, and a thousand other social problems for funding. The larger the problem they claim, the more their funding and salaries increase.'' This drew nervous laughter from one side of the room.

At the counterprotest outside the convention compound the previous morning, the students were initially denied access to their permitted site for wearing tee shirts festooned with "Stop Global Whining." A compromise was reached allowing six such offending shirts to participate. Consistent with what transpired in the negotiations, objections arose over plans to bang a drum, and even to march in a circle. The students prevailed on both counts, conceding no bullhorn in return.

As for their reception, the group reported a favorable response and encountered only minor controversy. "I'm glad we were here, to do our part to promote the side of logic. Kyoto is an expensive insurance policy for an empty threat that scientists have not even agreed exists," said Craig Rucker, director of Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the D.C.-based think tank that, along with the Campus Leadership Program at the Leadership Institute, coordinated the trip. As for who won the debate, Rucker opined that the very fact the Left felt compelled to acknowledge them meant only one outcome was possible.

Copyright © 2001 National Review Online