al gore 311.
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
To Al Gore’s detractors he is many things.
An annoying gasbag. A
self-righteous know-it-all. A braggart who invented the Internet. A fraud who
promoted global warming as an international hoax. Such exaggerated criticism
would explain why many believe the as-yet unsubstantiated account of a masseuse
who claims that he forced himself on her sexually in a Portland hotel
But this demonization of Gore by his ideological enemies is not
only ethically unsound but serves to confuse his true moral
First, the masseuse.
All a person really has in this life
is his or her reputation. Once you destroy their name they will never
in the streets with their heads held as high. There are many questions
around the woman who is accusing Gore, including the fact that she
interviews with the Portland police about the alleged incident and the
she reportedly asked the National
for $1 million to tell her story. But
amid these serious concerns about her credibility, right-wing news
are pouncing on the story because they relish how the high priest of
environmentalism and proud family man (the alleged incident took place
years before the announcement of his separation from Tipper) is now
pun intended) as a pious fraud.
But accepting unsubstantiated gossip – a
currency too easily traded in our culture – is a serious abrogation of
values. Last week I heard some of my fellow radio hosts condemning CNN’s
decision to give Elliot Spitzer a TV show, repeatedly referring to him
“Client Number 9.”
Really? Is that all he is? Does America no longer
believe in repentance, so that a man who makes one mistake is finished
no matter how much he has suffered for that mistake and what repentance
have undertaken? Is that the kind of society we want to live in? A
a hero like Stanley McChrystal can speak too candidly in front of a
who publishes his private conversations and then 30 years of service to
country under the most dangerous conditions are immediately forgotten?
retains the presumption of innocence and those of us who believe in
not be complicit in character assassination.
What is certainly true,
however, is that Gore is a fool for being closeted alone with a woman at
in his hotel room, and every husband in America should learn from his
That a public figure did not understand this is deeply troubling. In
man and woman who are not married are not supposed to be in a locked
together. You might think this extreme, but just imagine how much
could have been avoided by many innocent people on whom aspersions were
they abided by this simple rule.
More importantly, I know of few wives
who would feel comfortable with their husbands being secluded in their
rooms for something as intimate as a massage late at night.
rule of marriage is that you don’t do things that hurt your spouse, and
actions betray a deep insensitivity.
Too often our society, in an effort
to appear progressive, dismisses as repressive and Victorian basic rules
sexual propriety that once prevailed between the genders. But have we
from the erasure of nearly all sexual boundaries with weekly scandals of
hesaid- she-said variety? IT IS not the cavalier attitude toward his
wife or the
incredible stupidity of a public figure putting himself into a morally
compromising position that constitutes Gore’s most important moral
Rather, it has to do with the environment.
Let me explain. I love nature
and I believe with all my heart in protecting the environment.
I am never
more alive as when I get away from bricks and mortar out into open
forests, rivers, and mountains. Every year I take my kids way off the
track and as deep into nature as I can immerse them for our summer
want to teach them reverence for the beauty of creation and how it is a
pollute God’s green Earth.
So why aren’t I grateful to Al Gore for
highlighting the environment? Simply put, he overdid it. Saving a tree,
important, is never as significant as saving a human life.
rain forest from being decimated is still subordinate to stopping
What Al Gore did was create a level of hysteria that elevated
the environment to the foremost moral cause of our time, even as
continue to die in Darfur, Zimbabweans continue to be brutalized by
Mugabe, Iranians continue to be cut down by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo
Chavez’s reign of terror intensifies by the day in a once-free
So many people of goodwill who might have worked to bring
clean water to Africa, to stop the scourge of AIDS or to battle the
of women in the Arab world contented themselves with climbing up trees
ensuring they weren’t cut down. I love the Earth but I refuse to deify
life is still the crown jewel of creation.
Some will say that my argument
How can you have human life without a healthy Earth to
sustain it? My response is that respecting the Earth and reducing
an urgent priority, not to mention a godly endeavor. Even those who
global warming as a hoax would have to agree that all that black,
coming from exhaust pipes and factories can’t be good for our air
world. But when the hysteria over the environment pushes to the
ending of famine, stopping the spread of AIDS, fighting terrorist
giving orphans loving homes, our world is thrown into moral confusion.
Gore convinced the world that the environment was more urgent than even
Saddam Hussein from power – an act he condemned and opposed – even as The New
reported that the tyrant killed 800,000 Arabs and
300,000 Kurds. A
true leader is one who teaches his people moral priorities.
Earth has a certain sacredness. But it is still the means to the even
of the infinite value of human life.The writer is host of ‘The Shmuley
Show’ on WABC 770 AM in NYC, and is founder of This World: The Values
He has just published
Renewal: A Guide to the Values- Filled