We all know The New York Times has become a parody of itself and its latest opinion column does naught to quell that image.
In a piece titled "Lenin's Eco Warriors," author Fred Strebeigh touts how Vladimir Lenin's "love of camping and hiking" positively impacted "conservation in Russia."
"Much of the answer begins with Vladimir Ilyich Lenin," the author writes.
In 1919, a young agronomist named Nikolai Podyapolski traveled north from the Volga River delta, where hunting had almost eliminated many species, to Moscow, where he met Lenin. Arriving at the Bolshevik leader’s office to seek approval for a new zapovednik, Podyapolski felt 'worried,' he said, 'as before an exam in high school.' But Lenin, a longtime enthusiast for hiking and camping, agreed that protecting nature had 'urgent value.'
In the eyes of the NY Times, any person, no matter how repugnant in life, should be viewed through a sympathetic lens so long as he or she is/was an environmentalist -- or communist. What's more, the outlet and its contributors see no hypocrisy in glorifying those who destroyed actual human lives so long as they sought to save the trees. The article continues:
Two years later, Lenin signed legislation ordering that “significant areas of nature” across the continent be protected. Within three decades, some 30 million acres (equal in area to about 40 states of Rhode Island) from the European peaks of the Caucasus to the Pacific volcanoes of Kamchatka were set aside in a system of 128 reserves.
Conservationists across Russia are following his now unbridled commentaries, including that the ministry views Russia’s nature reserves as “a resource that can be used for personal recreation and entertainment.” He has attacked the government for failing to uphold the system’s century-long “sacred idea.”
For now, at least, Lenin’s legacy is preserved and Russia remains the world leader, ahead of Brazil and Australia, in protecting the most land at the highest level. Russian naturalists continue to advance their not-yet-hopeless cause of keeping free a few vast landscapes on this planet where humans do not tread.
I can only anticipate that the next installment at the Times will be a piece on how Nazis advanced the cause of animal welfare in Germany. After all, the party banned animal experimentation (human beings were another story though, of course), Heinrich Himmler tried to ban hunting outright, and Hitler himself loved dogs and vegetarianism. Real conservationists, they were.