Still, is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual?
Yes, it is — and that’s why it’s unforgivable.
Do you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that terrorism posed an “existential threat” to America, a threat in whose face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole — but the existential threat from climate change is all too real.
Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.
As Krugman suggests, recent years have seen the bar set pretty low for what can get a person branded as a traitor. In a February 2003 editorial, the now-defunct New York Sun called for police to monitor protesters opposing the invasion of Iraq "with an eye toward preserving at least the possibility of an eventual treason prosecution," for giving "aid and comfort to the enemy," a crime that in the United States carries the death penalty.
A few months later saw the release of a bestselling book by conservative commentator Ann Coulter (who, incidentally, holds a law degree), that insisted that all American liberals – that is, about one fifth of the US population – are guilty of treason. Those who peacefully opposed the war were similarly maligned throughout the burgeoning right-wing wilds of the blogosphere, and were, it should be noted, extensively spied on by the US government.