President’s Message

Destroying A Town To Save It

President George Hollister

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it”, was an infamous quote from the Vietnam  War attributed to an unspecified US Army major regarding the bombing of Ben Tre to rout the Vietcong with no regard for civilian casualties. This quote symbolizes a faith based ideological  mindset, usually from afar, that a dubious ill-conceived end, justifies any means in order to achieve a moral good. This mindset is not unique to the Vietnam War, is seen in history with the Christian  Crusades, and in the modern day environmental movement.

The most pointed modern example was the destruction of timber based rural economies across the American West in order to “save the forest” from corporate lumber profiteers. The timber towns were destroyed, and in the end so were the forests as those forests suffered a series of catastrophic  wildfires primarily due to the abandonment of active forest management. Those from afar never see the consequences, history, or ironies of destroyed towns, or the destroyed forest, either. Meanwhile the corporate lumber profiteers have not skipped a beat as  the demand for forest products in America continues unabated, satisfied with imports from Canada.

Removing Scott Dam, and draining Lake Pillsbury to “save the Eel River” is another attempt to “destroy a town to save it”. From afar, removing Scott Dam makes sense to those that think that, “Dams are always bad for fish”. The human economies, and the real world fish that depend on stored Eel River water are out of sight and out of mind. But pursuing an environmental moral good, by any means, is all that matters. We are “saving the planet”.

“Saving Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF)” is the latest. A movement afoot to ban logging from JDSF, and “save it” from profiteers would end much of the good work, including a lot of scientific research, that has been carried out at JDSF in the last 70 years, along with a significant amount of local high wage private employment, and county property tax. Again, this is being done to achieve the moral good of “saving the planet” with no regard to negative consequences.

Does this mean the case for freedom, why we were in Vietnam; or the case for religion, as in  the Crusades; or the case for environmentalism are all invalid? No, but destroying a town to save it is never valid. In all the cases I have mentioned, and there are many more, the town being destroyed was not offending anyone, except in an abstract way. The purported moral good was never achieved, in fact the opposite was the case.