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In the midst of a disputed election there is something we can be
thankful for. We can rejoice about the crumpled presidential bid of
Ralph Nader and his failure to get 5 percent of the vote for the Green
Consider who the Green Party represents.
Last Tuesday I was strolling through the heart of Nader country, in a
town on the north coast of California called Arcata. This is the where
the Green Party saw some of its first politicians elected to office. It
is probably the only town in America where Nader got a majority of the
Although we have no firm statistical proofs, it is alleged that
Arcata has the highest per capita pot consumption in California. And
nowhere in America will you find so many citizens listlessly walking the
streets, their arms dangling as they go, their shirts untucked, their
pupils dilated and their eyes glazed. Even on an overcast day there are
those who wear dark glasses. Everywhere you turn there are bumper
stickers that say “KEEP TAHOE BLUE” and “SAVE HEADWATERS.” Not far from
here a young woman named “Butterfly” Hill lived and did her business
(for over a year) in a tree. Her purpose was to keep a local timber
company from doing its job.
The closing of fisheries, lumber mills, paper mills and nuclear power
plants is only the beginning with these people. Ultimately, their path
leads back to the Middle Ages if not the Stone Age. It must be admitted
that this path is full of love for nature, but it is also full of hatred
Seeing the cradle of the Green revolution, which is here in Arcata,
you find many people who live in cars or vans. You see hobos with black
berets and ponytails, reciting the crimes of the United States cavalry
and the Ku Klux Klan. You find vegetarian fanatics and whale lovers who
eat nothing but organic foods.
Is it all harmless? Is it all innocent?
The Green radicals of Arcata are full of revolutionary complaints and
paranoia about “the system.” While walking on 9th Street I passed a
group of young men. They were discussing the extermination of Native
Americans. Two of them had shoulder-length hair while their African
American companion wore a pink scarf over a shaved head. They stopped
mid-sentence when they saw me. One of them gave me the finger. Perhaps
he thought I was a Republican, a gay-basher or an Indian fighter.
After this unpleasant encounter I turned a corner into an alley —
surprised to find two unexterminated Native Americans from a local
tribe. They appeared disheveled, clothed in nothing but blankets. The
older of the two Indians was limping and had only one shoe. They
politely asked for directions to Humboldt Bank. I told them and they
respectfully thanked me. I was glad to be of assistance.
So many people in Arcata are dressed like hippies. It’s almost as if
a time warp existed in the town square. Here, in northern California’s
damp and rainy climate, the summer of love has been converted into a
perpetual winter of the unwashed. If Gen. Jack Ripper from the movie
Dr. Strangelove was ready to start World War III because the commies
were “poisoning our bodily fluids” with fluoridated water, some of these
folks would be equally happy to eliminate most of the world’s population
to keep the air fresh and the water pure.
This is Nader country, in all its glory. These people are so far out
in left field they are — thankfully — out of the game. But it is
disturbing to see, up close and personal, what America would look like
in the event of an ideological shift to the Green end of the political
Of course, there are decent and normal people in Arcata, Calif. The
older citizens wave and smile, sometimes talking cheerfully about the
weather. One older gentleman I met in the street, who was wearing a
suit and tie, announced that America had finally chosen its new
president. Of course, it wasn’t Nader, he admitted. It was Mickey
It is a small consolation for which I offer thanks.