An Interview with Holly Swanson

Ashley Thorne

For the last year and a half the National Association of Scholars has been investigating the sustainability movement in higher education; in the process we’ve kept an eye out for other organizations that speak out about the dangers the movement poses for education. So far, we’ve found only one. 

We first learned of the organization Operation Green Out! while researching Second Nature, a Boston-based group that seeks to make sustainability the “foundation of all learning and practice in higher education.” We found that thus far Operation Green Out! seems to be the sole challenger of Second Nature’s education for sustainability agenda, and that it has launched a campaign “to get green politics out in the open and out of the classroom.” Holly Swanson, the organization’s founder and director, is the author of Set Up and Sold Out: Find Out What Green Really Means, and she is a nationwide speaker on the “Green movement” and its “plan to use public education to politically indoctrinate.” By way of introducing NAS members and readers to Ms. Swanson and Operation Green Out! we asked her for an interview to be published on the NAS website. She graciously agreed; below are her responses to our questions.

To learn more about Operation Green Out! call 541-830-1446 or email [email protected]

NAS: You are the leader of the Oregon-based organization Operation Green Out! which you founded in opposition to the politicized environmental movement and its influence in education. But before that you were actually an environmentalist yourself. Can you tell me a little about your background with environmentalism and what prompted you to start Operation Green Out!?

Swanson: Like most Americans I love the great outdoors. I learned to appreciate the splendor of God’s creation from my parents. Family trips to the mountains, the desert and the beach were adventures as well as learning experiences. Balancing a passion for nature with common sense and personal responsibility is as important to me today as it was then.                             

I became interested in the environmental movement in the late 80s when conflicting reports about environmental issues caught my attention. I wanted to know more so I decided to attend a few environmental conferences. I was very surprised to find information about the Socialist Party and the Green Party in the display table area right along with groups like the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation and Earth First. I did not understand the connection at the time. After months of research and participating in several more events, including a Radical Teachers conference, I realized the environmental cause had been hijacked by the Greens, Party and movement. 

A key part of the Greens’ strategy was to use public education as a tool to advance their political agenda. I founded Operation Green Out! to get Green politics out in the open and out of America’s schools, starting with Education for Sustainability.

 NAS: What about that exclamation point in the organization’s name—what’s that about?

Swanson: The exclamation point is symbolic as it emphasizes the urgent need to alert the American people and to prevent the Greens from continuing to use education to target, pressure, and manipulate students to think, eat, live, worship and vote Green.   

 NAS: You wrote a book entitled Set Up and Sold Out: Find Out What Green Really Means. What prompted you to write the book?

Swanson: The more I learned about Green politics the more concerned I became that the environmental movement, which was said to be non-partisan, was advancing a partisan agenda which mirrored the goals of the Greens (Party and global movement). I went to Washington D.C. to discuss this issue and an insider boldly said “whatever is going to be decided about these issues is going to be decided right here inside the beltway, so it really doesn’t matter what the American people think.” I came back and wrote the book. These decisions affect our lives and the lives of future generations. The American people deserve to know that the environmental cause has become a political tool for a political movement. 

NAS: How has the book been received? 

Swanson: The book, now an updated third edition, has been well received. The following reviews speak for themselves:

“For some time now, many have questioned whether modern environmentalism really has more to do with politics than ecology. Well, in a provocative new book called Set Up & Sold Out, author Holly Swanson confirms this suspicion and lays bare the radical left wing agenda of the Green Movement.”

CFACTS Radio, Washington, D.C.


“Swanson’s well documented and insightful text uncovers the powerful political connections between the socialist agenda and modern day environmentalism. You will never view the environmental movement the same after reading this account.”   

Stewards of the Range, Meridian, ID

NAS: In the title of your book and in the text as well you use the word “green” to characterize a broad political and social movement. At the National Association of Scholars, we have been calling this the “sustainability movement.” Are they the same thing? 

Swanson: Yes. The word “green” has been politicized. The word “Green” or “the Greens” characterizes a global political movement which includes, but is not limited to, the Green Party, the Global Green Parties, the environmental, now Green movement, the sustainability movement, the progressives, the Earth Charter and more. These groups are aligned and share a revolutionary agenda.    

NAS: In Set Up and Sold Out you spend a lot of time connecting the “green” movement to communism and to radical left-wing politics.  Your point seems to be that the left is using environmentalism for its own purposes and doesn’t really care about environmental issues in their own right.  Is that right?

Swanson: The Greens may care about the environment but political power comes first. The following statement by Anthony Cortese, the President of Second Nature and a leader in the Education for Sustainability movement, confirms the goals are political. He said in an interview in Conservation Matters magazine, a publication of the Conservation Law Foundation, that:

humans are guided by a whole set of beliefs and values, and those come from culture, from religion, from social, economic and political structure. We need to change all of those.

This plan to change and control every aspect of our lives is not about environmental excellence. This plan is about using environmentalism and education to mask imposing a radical political agenda. We do not have to abandon our goal of environmental excellence to start making critical distinctions between sound steps to a healthy environment and the imposition of a Green dictatorship, under the guise of protecting the environment. 

NAS: Environmentalism has been an active force in American society since the 1960s. Most people agree that it has accomplished a lot of good things. We have cleaner air and water than we did a couple of generations ago, and Americans are much more sensitive to maintaining the natural environment. What’s wrong with that?

Swanson: A tremendous amount of good has come from increased environmental awareness and we don’t need to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ to handle this situation. We need to face the fact that the environmental cause has been hijacked and start separating politics from pollution. We need to shift gears and look at the political as well as the environmental consequences of our choices.                       

NAS: Operation Green Out! opposes Earth Day as a national event.  Earth Day seems pretty harmless. What’s the point of opposing it?

Swanson: Regardless of what it started out to be, Earth Day is now a political tool for the Greens. The Earth Day Network is a partner in the Earth Charter campaign which means they are using their resources and influence to promote the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter is part of the Green Party platform. Earth Day, Earth Week and Earth Month are all part of the Green indoctrination process. Earth Day is a partisan event and does not belong in publicly funded schools. The solution is to simply hold Earth Day events off campus so student participation is voluntary, not mandatory.

NAS: Do you think the green movement (or the sustainability movement) has already changed American society in some manner beyond what the old environmental movement achieved? 

Swanson: The Greens hijacked the environmental cause over 20 years ago and have since politicized the cause to the point the original intent is all but lost. Taking care of the land and the water has been replaced with taking control of the land and the water. A healthy debate has been replaced with a nearly fanatical intolerance.  Respect for individual stewardship has been replaced with the demand we must all live according to the Green’s definition of sustainability.  

The Greens are changing American society by putting a Green label on everything. The Green label is a marketing strategy to build a group mentality and increase intolerance for those who prefer to think for themselves. The Green label and the sustainability banner are tools to create the mentality that we must all think and act the same. This conditioning process is intended to produce nationwide compliance. We need to lose the Green label. We can take care of the environment without being Green. 

NAS: In Set Up and Sold Out you’ve explained where you think the green movement would like to go in bringing about social and political change.  How likely do you think it is that the movement will succeed in achieving its goals?  You say in your book that you think Americans should have a greater voice in “choosing our future.”  What if the majority of Americans were to choose the future the greens have in mind?

Swanson: The Green movement can achieve their goals if they are allowed to continue to:

  • Use education to politically indoctrinate America’s youth and control their vote
  • Hide their partisan agenda under a Green label and the sustainability banner
  • Keep the fact ‘Green goals mirror communism’ off the public radar screen  

What the American people don’t know can hurt them. According to the Greens, Cuba is a model of sustainability. Cuba, a communist country, offers a glimpse of the future the Greens have in mind. 

NAS: What does Operation Green Out! do? What kinds of response have you and the organization met?

Swanson: Operation Green Out! is raising public awareness and building support to get Green politics and Education for Sustainability out of America’s schools. The campaign is growing rapidly as more Americans recognize that political indoctrination is occurring and that the Green agenda mirrors communism.       

 NAS: What do you think the obstacles are to reaching a broader audience or getting the kind of skeptical analysis you present heard in the major media?

Swanson: Lack of public awareness and outcry are obstacles we are overcoming. Citizens, students and leaders in higher education are helping to create media interest. The opportunity to nationalize these issues and stop the indoctrination has never been greater.

NAS: Are there any other organizations like Operation Green Out!?

Swanson: To my knowledge Operation Green Out! is the leading organization in this specific issue area although there are many fine groups working on related educational issues.

NAS: As you know, the National Association of Scholars is particularly interested in the way the “sustainability” movement has landed in education, especially higher education.  I have several questions for you about the possible links between your work and ours.  First, in your view, what is the connection between the green movement and education?

Swanson: An example of the political alliance between the Greens and the Education for Sustainability movement is the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter is a set of rules for sustainability, co-authored by Mikhail Gorbachev, which embody Green Party goals. 

The Education for Sustainability movement has selected the Earth Charter as a guide to teach sustainability which confirms this movement supports and is advancing the same agenda as the Earth Charter and the Greens.

The Education for Sustainability movement is harmful because this movement is swiftly changing the role of public education in America from a ‘politically neutral system’ to a ‘politically driven system’ rooted in the ideology of the Greens and designed to produce mass compliance and predictable support for one ideology or single party rule. 

NAS: Is there anything wrong or questionable about teaching very young children about such things as global warming, rising sea levels, environmental catastrophe, overpopulation, etc?                 

Swanson: Absolutely. Children do not have the emotional maturity or frame of reference to handle the ‘fear factor’ associated with issues like global warming. As parents we do not put our children in situations they are not prepared to handle. We do not expect our children to perform surgery or fix the car so why are we allowing the Greens to put saving the planet on their little shoulders? Scaring children into compliance is an unfair, inappropriate and unacceptable tactic.                                                                        

 NAS: The green movement or sustainability movement seems to NAS to have arrived only recently on college campuses, even though it has been developing in the broader society for at least twenty years and perhaps longer.  Do you agree that it is new to college?  If so, why do you think it took so long to get there?

Swanson: The Greens have been laying the foundation for the sustainability movement since the 90s and have quietly promoted the concept of sustainability in higher education since that time. The big push to make sustainability the entire focus of higher education has occurred in the last few years. By design, sustainability programs seem to have emerged overnight because the Greens had their ducks in a row before they let the cat out of the bag. The strategy was to establish general acceptance for the concept of sustainability before the extreme and invasive policies were introduced.

NAS: NAS has made the point that the sustainability movement on campus has tried to bypass debate. Its advocates have tried to achieve this in two ways: by creating mandatory dorm-based programs and by recruiting college presidents and other administrators who impose it on their campuses by fiat. We find this puzzling. If the greens believe they have such good arguments for their points, why do they go to such trouble to avoid arguing them?

Swanson: The Greens prefer blind obedience. Avoiding debate prevents accountability. Presidents and school administrators must be held accountable. Hard questions regarding the political motivation and outcome of the sustainability mandates must be asked and answered. Lack of accountability creates compliance during and after college. In a free country, debate is welcome and essential. There is no debate in a dictatorship.      

NAS: How do you think Americans should combat the “green” propaganda on campus?  In education in general?

Swanson: The first step to combat Green propaganda on campus is to understand the political purpose behind it. Reading Set Up & Sold Out would help.
Combating the Green agenda in public education requires a nationwide accountability check-up. We need to work with educators, students, parents and citizens to return our schools to safe havens of learning.  Upholding the American standard of a politically (party) neutral public education is the place to start. The Operation Green Out! accountability check-up begins with the call to immediately suspend Education for Sustainability and related Green programming in America’s schools (pre-school through university).
This call is based on overwhelming evidence that these programs are designed to politically indoctrinate students. Since these programs are being taught daily in schools across the nation, anything less than suspension will leave students in harm’s way, and that is irresponsible.
Free thought, individual freedom and the democratic process are at risk. These programs must be suspended and the content evaluated by a leading panel of authorities (including the National Association of Scholars) to determine ‘what if any’ part of these political programs is suitable for reinstatement.

NAS: In the age of mass communication, we often find ourselves having to reduce complex arguments to a few words in the hope that we will get people’s attention, and that they will then seek to learn more.  You have written a whole book about the dangers of the green movement.  But if you had to boil it down to one sentence, what would you say?

Swanson: The Greens are using Education for Sustainability to politically indoctrinate students nationwide to produce support for ‘single party rule combined with an ideology that mirrors communism,’ and we cannot let that happen.

NAS: Where are you and Operation Green Out! going next?  If people want to learn more about Operation Green Out! what should they do?

Swanson: Operation Green Out! is taking multiple steps to raise public awareness, prevent indoctrination and bring accountability back to education. You can help by using your voice and endorsing the Operation Green Out! campaign. For more information, to find out what you can do to help, or to order the book Set Up & Sold Out, call 541-830-1446 or email [email protected] (©2009HollySwanson)



Image: Wikimedia Common, Public Domain

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