Education video or harbinger of Marxist revolution? We report, you decide.

Illustration by Jake Turcotte
We're just kidding about Lenin, but FoxNews has called out a popular educational video for being Marxist. Is it? Despends on who you ask.

"This is community-college Marxism in a pony tail," Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute told this week.

His pony-tailed target? Annie Leonard, an environmental activist and filmmaker. About a year and a half ago, Leonard created a video called "The Story of Stuff," which has been viewed millions of times on YouTube. (It's also available on DVD, and a book is forthcoming.) The bulk of Leonard's presentation is explanatory: this is how all our stuff gets made, and this is where it goes when we toss it in the garbage. We have lots of stuff, Leonard says, but how often do we think about where it came from?

(As George Carlin once said, "Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore. Did you ever notice when you go to somebody else's house, you never quite feel a hundred percent at home? You know why? No room for your stuff.")


Since 2007, the video has been adopted by hundreds of schools across the nation as an educational tool. But Fox isn't buying it:

[Leonard] has an online hit with "The Story of Stuff," a 20-minute video that is being used in thousands of schools to explain America's dangerous obsession with material things — and one that some critics are calling a misleading diatribe against capitalism.

The critic, apparently, is Horner, the author of "Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed," and "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism." Horner doesn't like environmentalists very much, and he certainly doesn't like environmentalism being taught in public schools.

In an article published last year, Horner decried, among other things, the placement of thermometers on "asphalt parking lots, black tar roofs, airport tarmacs, and even hanging directly above barbeque grills," which was ostensibly raising panic about soaring global temperatures.

Horner continued:

Such childishness is only the tip of the iceberg of outrages employed to advance an ideological agenda. Our schools torment those whom they are charged with protecting from abuse, with night terrors among the less egregious outcomes. Their brainwashing includes hate mail campaigns to skeptics, reporting on their parents’ willingness to adopt an agenda, and even emotional breakdown requiring institutionalization.

Picking a fight

On its website, FoxNews takes up where Horner left off, and picks apart four stretches of "The Story of Stuff." Three of those sections, we're told, are misleading, and one is false. Is Fox correct? Hard to say. The article's authors didn't bother interviewing any professional scientists, and were unable to get a quote – one way or another – from Leonard. The lone outside voice is Mr. Horner's.

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