"With fond memories, a heavy heart, and a desire for progress, I say to you tonight that environmentalism is dead," declared former Sierra Club President Adam Werbach to a crowd that included current leaders of top enviro groups such as the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, and Earth Island Institute.
As it loses basic battles such as curbing pollution, environmentalism has shown it's as good as dead. The movement's members should therefore stop focusing on a single cause and instead advocate for broader leftist ideals, Werbach urged.
"Choose your side. Are you a progressive or a conservative? If you're a conservative," Werbach declared, "we wish you well, but we need you to leave this movement."
Thus was the proclamation from the President of the Sierra Club, Adam Werbach, back in the days after the '04 election when "progressive" politicos were in a state of suicidal depression after losing the Presidential election.
The Sierra Club had, for years, been slithering left-ward - much like the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake - but now had become an all-out, exclusionary left wing entity. The main cause for the shift - besides the belief of some members that the group was too cozy with business - was the big 1993 immigration debate.
Then came the whole flap over immigration. In March of 1993, the Sierra Club found itself on the brink of endorsing a measure that basically said newcomers and the United States environment were a bad match. Keep those folks south of the border, you see, and they won't be standing on line in Wal-Marts across America getting ready to buy aerosol sprays that could deplete the ozone layer.
"And you thought cars and industry polluted air, lack of recycling regulations made solid waste such a problem and the water shortage was because of a water subsidy policy that makes it profitable for big growers to raise rice in arid California. You were wrong: according to the national Population Committee of the Sierra Club, it's the immigrants, who are increasing California's population with their higher fertility rate and their desire to learn our lifestyle, who cause these problems," Hannah Creighton of Earth Island Institute wrote in the summer 1993 edition of Race, Poverty, and the Environment, which devoted an entire issue, guest-edited by Creighton, to the topic of racism within the environmental activist community. The debate over immigration ran hot enough to ignite Sierra Club fires for months. Has the fury died down?
"No it hasn't, and nobody talks about this," says Sierra Club board member David Brower, still burning.
So said David Brower back in 1996, but one suspects that there's likely been a bit of a Stalinist purge at the Sierra Club, with anyone daring to question leftist orthodoxy being told to take a hike - and not in a good way.
Interestingly enough, many of the voices in the "restrictionist" movement as it is called by leftists point to this moment as a part of their awakening. Many of those purged and urged to leave the Sierra Club went on to form and staff some of the biggest and best organizations trying to save America from immigration anarchy.
Even leftists like the Sierra Club know in their hearts that unrestricted immigration is killing this country. Some lie to themselves and say it's the size of the footprint (like immigrants won't pollute as much as Americans if given the chance). A few think upending the Anglos is a good thing (like immigrants are going to be good stewards for the environment... despite the fact - which I'm sure makes said Sierra Club leftists squirm - that the environmental movement is (and always has been) almost totally white).
But many are just in simple, ordinary denial - it's not that they can't reconcile immigration with their environmental beliefs, it's that they can't reconcile immigration with their leftist beliefs.
The Sierra Club made a choice - leftists first, environmentalists second. They somehow believe a Communist utopia will somehow be good for the planet (the squeaky clean former Soviet Union not withstanding).
I don't follow the Sierra Club closely, so if I'm wrong in my assessment that the group is now just another cultural marxist entity, I'd love to hear from some real environmentalists on the state of the club.
Until then... let's hear from a real environmentalist...
Author: Edward Abbey
[From Abbey’s 1988 book One Life at a Time, Please.]
In the American Southwest, where I happen to live, only sixty miles north of the Mexican border, the subject of illegal aliens is a touchy one. Even the terminology is dangerous: the old word wetback is now considered a racist insult by all good liberals; and the perfectly correct terms illegal alien and illegal immigrant can set off charges of xenophobia, elitism, fascism, and the ever-popular genocide against anyone careless enough to use them. The only acceptable euphemism, it now appears, is something called undocumented worker. Thus the pregnant Mexican woman who appears, in the final stages of labor, at the doors of the emergency ward of an El Paso or San Diego hospital, demanding care for herself and the child she's about to deliver, becomes an "undocumented worker." The child becomes an automatic American citizen by virtue of its place of birth, eligible at once for all of the usual public welfare benefits. And with the child comes not only the mother but the child's family. And the mother's family. And the father's family. Can't break up families can we? They come to stay and they stay to multiply.
What of it? say the documented liberals; ours is a rich and generous nation, we have room for all, let them come. And let them stay, say the conservatives; a large, cheap, frightened, docile, surplus labor force is exactly what the economy needs. Put some fear into the unions: tighten discipline, spur productivity, whip up the competition for jobs. The conservatives love their cheap labor; the liberals love their cheap cause. (Neither group, you will notice, ever invites the immigrants to move into their homes. Not into their homes!) Both factions are supported by the cornucopia economists of the ever-expanding economy, who actually continue to believe that our basic resource is not land, air, water, but human bodies, more and more of them, the more the better in hive upon hive, world without end - ignoring the clear fact that those nations which most avidly practice this belief, such as Haiti, Puerto Rico, Mexico, to name only three, don't seem to be doing well. They look more like explosive slow-motion disasters, in fact, volcanic anthills, than functioning human societies. But that which our academic economists will not see and will not acknowledge is painfully obvious to los latinos: they stream north in ever-growing numbers.
Meanwhile, here at home in the land of endless plenty, we seem still unable to solve our traditional and nagging difficulties. After forty years of the most fantastic economic growth in the history of mankind, the United States remains burdened with mass unemployment, permanent poverty, an overloaded welfare system, violent crime, clogged courts, jam-packed prisons, commercial ("white-collar") crime, rotting cities and a poisoned environment, eroding farmlands and the disappearing family farm all of the usual forms of racial ethnic and sexual conflict (which immigration further intensifies), plus the ongoing destruction of what remains of our forests, fields, mountains, lakes, rivers, and seashores, accompanied by the extermination of whole specie's of plants and animals. To name but a few of our little nagging difficulties.
This being so, it occurs to some of us that perhaps evercontinuing industrial and population growth is not the true road to human happiness, that simple gross quantitative increase of this kind creates only more pain, dislocation, confusion, and misery. In which case it might be wise for us as American citizens to consider calling a halt to the mass influx of even more millions of hungry, ignorant, unskilled, and culturallymorally-generically impoverished people. At least until we have brought our own affairs into order. Especially when these uninvited millions bring with them an alien mode of life which - let us be honest about this - is not appealing to the majority of Americans. Why not? Because we prefer democratic government, for one thing; because we still hope for an open, spacious, uncrowded, and beautiful-yes, beautiful!-society, for another. The alternative, in the squalor, cruelty, and corruption of Latin America, is plain for all to see.
Yes, I know, if the American Indians had enforced such a policy none of us pale-faced honkies would be here. But the Indians were foolish, and divided, and failed to keep our WASP ancestors out. They've regretted it ever since.
To everything there is a season, to every wave a limit, to every range an optimum capacity. The United States has been fully settled, and more than full, for at least a century. We have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by allowing the old boat to be swamped. How many of us, truthfully, would prefer to be submerged in the Caribbean-Latin version of civilization? (Howls of "Racism! Elitism! Xenophobia!" from the Marx brothers and the documented liberals.) Harsh words: but somebody has to say them. We cannot play "let's pretend" much longer, not in the present world.
Therefore-let us close our national borders to any further mass immigration, legal or illegal, from any source, as does every other nation on earth. The means are available, it's a simple technical-military problem. Even our Pentagon should be able to handle it. We've got an army somewhere on this planet, let's bring our soldiers home and station them where they can be of some actual and immediate benefit to the taxpayers who support them. That done, we can begin to concentrate attention on badly neglected internal affairs. Our internal affairs. Everyone would benefit, including the neighbors. Especially the neighbors. Ah yes. But what about those hungry hundreds of millions, those anxious billions, yearning toward the United States from every dark and desperate corner of the world? Shall we simply ignore them? Reject them? Is such a course possible?
"Poverty," said Samuel Johnson, "is the great enemy of human happiness. It certainly destroys liberty, makes some virtues impracticable, and all virtues extremely difficult."
You can say that again, Sam.
Poverty, injustice, over breeding, overpopulation, suffering, oppression, military rule, squalor, torture, terror, massacre: these ancient evils feed and breed on one another in synergistic symbiosis. To break the cycles of pain at least two new forces are required: social equity - and birth control. Population control. Our Hispanic neighbors are groping toward this discovery. If we truly wish to help them we must stop meddling in their domestic troubles and permit them to carry out the social, political, and moral revolution which is both necessary and inevitable.
Or if we must meddle, as we have always done, let us meddle for a change in a constructive way. Stop every campesino at our southern border, give him a handgun, a good rifle, and a case of ammunition, and send him home. He will know what to do with our gifts and good wishes. The people know who their enemies are.