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Green Bigotry

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMarch 19, 2010 8:53 PM


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There's a good post up at Grist on the latent anti-immigrant sentiment within the larger environmental community. Anyone who is familiar with the green bigotry on this issue has probably bumped up against what the writer describes here:

So after I began working in the environmental community, I was disturbed to find that when friends and respected colleagues talked about immigration and the environment, it was often (albeit unintentionally) from an anti-immigrant perspective.

Most of those in green circles who know better prefer not to talk about this so openly; it's uncomfortable, like the racist relative at Thanksgiving that the family tries to ignore. Of course, when the racist isn't publicly called out by embarrassed family members, they are tacitly enabling his behavior. Worse yet is the less overt racist attitude that underlies cultural attitudes towards people of color and illegal immigrants, which many try to gloss over. (I just think my son should marry his own kind, and a common refrain heard with respect to illegal immigrants: I believe in the law.) So we have lots of environmentalists who have been hoodwinked (or are just winking at) what the Grist writer correctly calls the

large anti-immigrant organizations "greenwashing" --using environmental messaging to cloak anti-immigrant sentiments. Publicly, the mainstream environmental community has largely remained silent on immigration issues (with the exception of a couple of contentious debates in 2004 and 2005 that sprang up around Sierra Club board elections). In this silence, anti-immigrant groups have co-opted the green messagingand started gaining public support from those who generally ascribe to environmental values. These groups suggest that limiting immigration would be a good way to slow the population growth of the U.S. -- and without any prominent environmental voices countering them, they've had plenty of room to make the case that immigration is a main driver of environmental degradation.

What I wonder: do prominent environmental voices stay silent because they too are anti-immigrant, or is that they just don't want to offend or take on a substantial segment of their base?

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