Bob's Links and Rants

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Sunday, March 21, 2004

Methinks they might protest too much
Now that our latest Ann Arbor peace march is over, I have turned my attention to my (snail) mailbox. The ballot for directors of the Sierra Club has been sitting there for a week or two. I mentioned back in January that there is some controversy surrounding this particular election. The "old guard" is alarmed by the attempts of "an unusual alliance of anti-immigration advocates and animal-rights activists" to take over the Sierra Club. The "old guard" has the endorsements of MoveOn, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and at least our local ACLU president.

My problem here is that the "outsiders," led by former Colorado governor Dick Lamm, don't seem so bad to me. Lamm's "radical" agenda? From his candidate statement:

My priorities are wilderness and biodiversity loss caused by habitat destruction and resource extraction?overpopulation and overconsumption are critical root causes. Our country?s population is exploding, 44 million added since 1990 alone, driven by rising fertility and record immigration. The Club?s population programs?global and domestic?must be strengthened.

Meanwhile, almost the entirety of the old guard's argument seems to be based on a supposed anti-immigrant position and the fact that the outsiders are outsiders. They also refer to support some of the outsiders have received from racist organizations like the Center for American Unity and White Politics Inc. Apparently, since some unsavory characters support the outsiders, I should support the "mainstream" and let the Sierra Club ignore important issues like population control, immigration, and animal rights. And frankly, I was not impressed by the SC mainstream in the months leading up to the Iraq war. They not only refused for a long time to oppose the war, but actually were reprimanding local chapters that did. Finally, enough outcry from members (like me) got the SC to sign up with the wimpiest of the anti-war groups, "Win Without War." And in this issue their response to the challenge is far from enlightening. Instead of pointing to specific points from the challengers and refuting them, or promoting some positive agenda of their own, they are acting like typical politicians: attacking a lack of "experience," and using code-words like "extremist" and "outside the mainstream." I heard enough of that stuff working on the Kucinich campaign, and it tends to bias me against those who attack that way.

So right now I'm kind of confused. I certainly don't want to vote for any white supremicists who want to increase the persecution of immigrants in this country. But I also think that it is legitimate to address the whole problem of immigration, especially since so many immigrants end up in parts of the country that are already unsustainable in terms of water and energy. If we can reduce immigration by reducing the pressure on the poor people in Mexico and elsewhere to leave their lands, much of that pressure coming from US corporations, it could be good for all concerned (except those corporations, who thoroughly deserve to be screwed, BTW). And why in the world should the Sierra Club be opposing "animal-rights activists?"

You can read the candidate statements here. The point-counterpoint of the two sides is also online. The "old guard" point of view is here; the "outsider" viewpoint is here. If you have any comments on the candidates or suggestions as to whom I should vote for, please e-mail me.