The Al Gore eugenics conspiracy theory: How my 1-minute YouTube clip became a right-wing sensation.

News and commentary about environmental issues.
June 25 2011 7:11 AM

How To Spark a Right-Wing Frenzy

My one-minute YouTube clip of Al Gore was a conservative-media sensation. Here's why I took it down.

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The more tactful articles merely employed the power of suggestion, leaving it up to readers to 'uncover' the implicit Brave New World in Gore's words. The Daily Caller's Jeff Poor demonstrates:

[...] when the world's top global warming activist is talking about the size of population and how that contributes to the choices societies make, it might be worth taking note... [Gore] offered some ideas about what might be done for females in the name of stabilizing population growth.

That's knowing your audience. These sentences are carefully worded to hint that Gore harbors a dark intent to install some kind of one-child policy or forced sterilization regime, to stir up latent feelings of anger Poor surely knows his readers have toward the man.

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My head spinning from all this nonsense, and feeling partly responsible for unleashing such venom, I angrily took to Twitter to lambast Poor's article—the most popular of the lot—and we had a protracted war of words. But it was no use.

The methods of the fringe are overwhelmingly effective: They made a poorly shot, haphazardly edited YouTube clip a sensation in deeply conservative circles. They rallied a small army under the banner of a common hatred for an outspoken Democrat.  I've got an inbox filled with seething comments to prove it. I would have had more if I hadn't removed the video from YouTube.

Tired of the openly hateful remarks, the bizarre displays of rage, the assortment of inexplicable anti-Muslim comments, and the various descriptions of murder, I pulled the plug on "Al Gore: How Empowering Women Fights Climate Change."

This decision sparked some outcry from those who thought me a fellow conspiratorial crusader and killed the popularity of any article associated with it.

"Please, please, please, please put it back up ... You can be a HERO if you so choose!" YouTube user FreeinTX wrote me in a direct message. An author of right-wing dystopian novels mocked me for taking it down in a tweet. It seems my days of celebrity in the far right were to be short-lived.

And for that I'm grateful—it was a truly unsettling experience, coming digitally face-to-face with so many misguided people with unhinged perspectives and violent urges. Tapping into the undercurrent of bilious hatred for Gore, I couldn't help but worry a little for his safety.

There's a pervasive rumor amongst his detractors that Gore doesn't allow recordings to be made of his talks. It's not true, of course. But getting caught up in this outpouring of malevolence, seeing firsthand the unrepentant distortion of even innocuous comments, I can't blame him for wanting to keep the cameras out.

Brian Merchant is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY. He covers politics for TreeHugger.com and is an editor at the Utopianist.

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