|The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE) has been at the very heart of the backlash against the environmental movement. Although it has not had an especial focus on the GM debate, the aggressive PR tactics that CDFE has promoted, as a means of attacking and seeking to discredit those raising environmental concerns, have had an enormous influence.
CDFE was founded in 1976 by its President Alan Merril Gottlieb, a nuclear engineering graduate. In 1984 Gottlieb was joined by the man who became CDFE's Executive Vice President, Ron Arnold. Arnold has also been a consultant for Dow Chemical, as well as Head of the Washington State chapter of the American Freedom Coalition, the political arm of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church (1989-91). Alan Gottlieb also connects to the American Freedom Coalition which has also shared offices with CDFE. (Profile: Ron Arnold/The Wise Use Movement/Merchant of Fear)
In 1991 Arnold told the New York Times, 'We [CDFE] created a sector of public opinion that didn't used to exist. No one was aware that environmentalism was a problem until we came along.' CDFE's previous main focus had been opposing gun controls with Gottlieb establishing two pro-gun foundations. According to the New York Times, Gottlieb shifted the Center's focus when he realized the fundraising potential of opposing environmentalism, 'For conservative fundraisers like Mr. Gottlieb, the enemies were Senator Edward M. Kennedy and the threat of gun control. But now Mr. Gottlieb has found a better target. "For us" said Mr. Gottlieb... "the environmental movement has become the perfect bogeyman."' (Profile)
A year before Arnold joined CDFE, he had written a report for Reason magazine on EcoTerrorism. Lyndon LaRouche, the American Marxist leader turned far right anti-semite, had been one of the first people to use the term 'terrorist' in relation to environmentalists. As early as 1977 LaRouche's supporters had tried to halt a peaceful demonstration against a nuclear power plant in New Hampshire by contacting the police and claiming that acts of violence were being planned. A subsequent FBI memorandum stated the information had been 'fabricated' by LaRouchians. (LaRouche and Wise Use)
LaRouche's tactic of creating friction with environmentalists by painting them as violent and dangerous, as well as his terrorist terminology, were picked up by Arnold, who has been called the 'Father of the Wise Use Movement'. That movement was launched in 1988 by Gottlieb and Arnold. The Wise Use Agenda was published by CDFE the following year. Among the organisations attending or supporting the 1988 conference that set the Agenda were DuPont, Exxon, the National Rifle Association, Consumer Alert and the Moonie-linked American Freedom Coalition. CDFE's advisors have included Richard Ichord of the American Freedom Coalition, Barbara Keating of Consumer Alert, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. (Disinfopedia )
The aim of Wise Use was to counter the environmental movement with a broad-ranging, loose-knit coalition of interest groups, including industry-funded front groups and 'grassroots groups', often organised by PR consultants on behalf of corporations or trade associations.
Gottlieb, who describes himself as 'the premiere anti-communist, free-enterprise, laissez-faire capitalist' and who has spent time in prison for tax-evasion, has had a long history of direct mail fundraising. Gottlieb and his wife own Merril Mail Marketing, a direct mail company. Gottlieb has claimed that CDFE mails more than 20 million items a year (The Wise Use Movement). Fear, hate, and revenge 'are the oldest tricks in the direct mail handbook', according to Arnold, who has also said, 'Facts don't really matter. In politics, perception is reality.' (Profile: Ron Arnold/Anti-environmentalism)
Gottlieb and Arnold paint environmentalists as self-serving communists or Nazis who seek to broaden the power of big government, impose restraints on individual liberty, and destroy civilization. Arnold, who has described himself as the 'Darth Vader for the capitalist revolution', has openly stated that his aim is 'to destroy the enviro