MINOT, N.D. — Winona LaDuke is a Native American activist whose group, Honor the Earth, has been very active in opposing energy development projects, typically pipelines, across our region.
Her group fought against the Dakota Access Pipeline here in North Dakota, in addition to the Line 3 replacement project in Minnesota.
Recently the folks behind the Line 3 project — which, again, is the effort to replace an existing line — got some good news from Minnesota's state government. After an absurdly tortuous review process, dotted with many protests and legal challenges, state regulators recently granted key permits to allow construction to go forward.
This has enraged LaDuke and other anti-pipeline activists, many of whom posture themselves as representing the best interests of our region's Indigenous peoples.
During a recent interview on a Twin Cities PBS affiliate, LaDuke was asked about people in Native American communities who are supportive of projects like Line 3 because of things like the jobs they provide.
LaDuke responded to the question by suggesting these people are like Nazi collaborators (her comments begin at about the 39:50 mark in the video):
“So, you know, there’s some people that are up there trying to get some money because it’s a really difficult time in the north. But you know what? It’s kind of like getting a job in the gas chamber,” she said.
“That’s a great job to have, but it’s really not the job you want to have for the long term and that’s what this pipeline is like. It’s like the ecological equivalent to Auschwitz. That’s what this pipeline is. So I don’t want to work in the gas chamber and I don’t want an Auschwitz,” she continued.
Just to review, Auschwitz was a Nazi prison camp in Poland where some 1.3 million human beings were imprisoned, and about 1.1 million were systematically exterminated.
Line 3, meanwhile, is a piece of energy infrastructure duly permitted by various government jurisdictions that will be used to transport a product every single American, including LaDuke herself, uses every day.
LaDuke claims to be an advocate for Native American people, yet suggests that Native Americans who get a job working on this lawful project are akin to Nazi collaborators.
Remarkably, when LaDuke said this awful thing, the PBS hosts didn't challenge the assertion.
Which is a problem in and of itself, don't you think?
Trust in the news media is in decline, even as journalists posture themselves as truth-tellers combatting a steady stream of lies from political figures like Donald Trump.
Trump deserves accountability, no doubt, but don't figures like LaDuke deserve scrutiny, too?
During the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline the national news media descended on south-central North Dakota and dutifully regurgitated every talking point the anti-pipeline activists there fed them.
Remember when MSNBC News reporter Cal Perry was spouting off about floating buffalo, suggesting that members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe still subsist on buffalo hunts, because someone in the protest camps told him that was true?
That's the sort of credulous, utterly biased coverage anti-pipeline activists typically enjoy from the news media.
LaDuke being allowed to compare a pipeline replacement to a Nazi extermination camp where over 1 million people died with nary a question or challenge from the two reporters interviewing her is just the latest example of that reality.
"You can be sure that this pipeline project will be met with resistance,” LaDuke said during the interview when asked about the possibility of protests against the project.
Let's hope they are not as violent and awful as the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.