WASHINGTON--Interior Secretary James Watt, already besieged for his remarks about American Indians, drew added fire yesterday for saying his environmental critics are pursuing the "greater objective" of central control of society, just as the German Nazis and Russian Bolsheviks did.
"The secretary, has gone bonkers said former Sen Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.) and now chairman of the Wilderness Society "It's time the white coat people took him away."
In an interview in the current issue of Business Week magazine, Watt said environmental groups are using environmental concerns "as a tool to achieve a greater objective," which he says is centralized planning and control of the society.
"Look what happened to Germany in the 1930s. The dignity of man was subordinated to the powers of Nazism," Watt told the magazine. The dignity of man was subordinated in Russia. Those are the forces that this thing can evolve into.
Michael McCloskey executive director of the Sierra Club said, Only James Watt could fail to see the difference between Hermann Goring and John Muir a 19th century naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club.
Interior Department officials confirmed the accuracy of the quotes but said Watt was not comparing the environmental movement with Nazis or communists.
The new flap arose as some American Indians said yesterday they had been too quick to call for Watt firing over statements he made about Indian reservations.
Watt, in a television interview said, It you want an example of the failures of socialism don't go to Russia Come to America and see the Indian reservations.
Watt said government police toward the 735,000 Indians was "terrible socialism and had led to the highest rates of unemployment alcoholism drug addiction and venereal diseases in the country.
Indians first viewed Watt's remarks as a veiled effort to abolish the reservations and sell off the 50 million acres of Indian lands.
However, some Indian leaders said yesterday after seeing Watt's full remarks that they supported many of the things he said.
For the first time in known history an official of the government has admitted that problems on the reservation are the government's fault. It has been traditional that they have always blamed us, said Ron Andtade executive director of the National Congress of American Indians which represents 180 tribes with a combined membership of 650,000.