As others see it: Pipeline protesters win Pyrrhic victory
There's a reason why Republicans soon will control not only the presidency, but also the Senate, the House, 33 governorships and both chambers in 32 states.
The reason can be found in the Dakota Access Pipeline case. With its elevation of identity politics above all else, its twisting of facts to accuse others of racism, its fanatic claim of being above the law and its wild exaggerations of environmental risk, the protest helps explain why so few Americans are willing to give the Left power.
The protesters won an important battle on Sunday, when their efforts convinced the Obama administration to block the pipeline. But it's likely to be a Pyrrhic victory, not only because the Trump administration might reverse it, but also because it deepens the public's distrust of modern liberals' governance.
▇ For months, protesters have accused Bismarck residents of racism and used the charge to justify the anti-pipeline cause. That hurt: Racism is an explosive charge, and if, in fact, the pipeline had been rerouted because it was NSFW—Not Safe for Whites, in comedian Trevor Noah's words—the project would have been discredited.
Not one syllable of such evidence surfaced. Just the opposite: Clearly, the Army Corps' routing avoided cities, not "whites," and put the pipeline through the rural Midwest—which is mostly populated by whites.
Why didn't it matter that on its way toward skirting the Standing Rock Reservation, the pipeline passed near the North Dakota towns of Epping, Watford City, Halliday, Dodge, Golden Valley, New Salem and Almont, among others? Or near dozens of other towns and past thousands more people on its way to Illinois?
It didn't matter because evidence seldom matters, once the charge of racism is thrown.
As liberal columnist Froma Harrop recognized recently, "obsessive appeals to racial, ethnic, sexual and gender identity groupings are bad politics." They work on occasion; they worked in this case. But they turn off voters by the millions, as the GOP's dominance in statehouses shows.
▇ It's not just that protesters drove cars consuming oil enroute to blocking an oil pipeline. It's also that by driving, they used machines that kill 33,000 a year, in order to protest a miniscule water-contamination risk.
"There are 38,410 crude oil pipeline river and waterbody crossings in the United States, including 1,079 in North Dakota," as Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., noted on the Senate floor. Human life involves risk, and if environmentalists want the public to believe their dire warnings about global warming, they should stop making an ordinary engineering project—a pipeline—sound like a crime.
The pipeline company followed the law, passed regulators' muster, earned permits from the Army Corps and now finds itself blocked. That's an outcome that appeals to some. But it's extraordinarily dismaying for others—and there are enough of them, apparently, to have put Republicans in power across the land.