Friday, January 29, 2016

Where's the environment's NRA?

One of the weaknesses of liberal humanists is that they care about others and the earth. That allows those for whom our blue marble and its inhabitants are but pawns to threaten scorched earth with more success than they should obtain.
Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday lashed out at House Republican leaders and retreated from a controversial component of his new water quality law, saying he has instructed the state's environmental agency to stop mapping private ditches around the state.


It may even help explain why federal and state officials are still negotiating with domestic terrorists at Malheur, instead of apprehending them with whatever vigor is required. I suppose this means I come up short on either my liberal or my humanist credentials. So be it. I've always believed in a policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorists. Clearly it's time for me to go back and reread Rebecca Solnit's Hope In The Dark. (The link is to the original essay in Orion. A new edition of the book will be published March 1, 2016.) I need to adjust my attitude to something more productive than Network's "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more."

My frustration with weak-kneed liberals is compounded by having listened, while returning from an appointment this morning, to NPR's series on the effectiveness of the National Rifle Association [NRA]. Why isn't there an NRA for the Environment that's at least as effective as the one for gun owners and makers? Why isn't there an umbrella organization that makes Republicans and blue-dog Democrats quake in their pollution-stained boots every time they threaten OUR environment? If there is such an organization, why don't I know about it so I can join?

Once upon a time I was a card-carrying member of the NRA. I quit when they opposed phasing out lead shot. I used to be a member of Ducks Unlimited, until they fired a writer who exposed obnoxious behavior by a major DU contributor. I donate freely and without tax deductability to the Sierra Club and wish they were more politically aggressive.

Solnit's concept about the never-ending need to oppose dark forces is clearly long term thinking. It's not like any victory is forever, but at the moment, I need the kind of boost a string of clear, short term triumphs would offer. You know, like watching vast numbers of global-corporate-spouting Republicans be defeated next November, and maybe taking a few DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) with them.

Goodbye to All That

By Kimberly Blaeser
                                              i.
He could have taken you prisoner, of course
when our two tribes were at war
over whitefish and beaver territory
and the Anishinaabeg chased your Indian ancestors
from the woodlands he now brings you home to.
Or your Dakota relatives might have waged a war party
on their swift plains’ ponies to avenge your taking
and bring you back from those uncivilized
they named in disgust the rabbit-chokers.
But those histories of dog-eaters and Chippewa crows
are just a backdrop now for other stories
told together by descendants of smallpox survivors
and French fur traders,
clan members of Wolf and of Water Spirit.
And now you gather,
trackers and scouts in new bloodless legal battles,
still watch for mark and sign—
for the flight of waterbirds.


                                              ii.
Old histories that name us enemies
don’t own us; nor do our politics
grown so pow-wow liberal you seldom
point out the follies of White Earth tribal leaders.
(Except of course for the time our elected chair
mistakenly and under the influence of civilization
drove his pickup down the railroad tracks
and made the tri-state ten o’clock news.)
And Sundays behind the Tribune
he seldom even mentions the rabid casino bucks
or gets out his calculator and with lodge-pole eyebrows
methodically measures beaded distances,
results of territorial lines drawn in your homeland.
And even though I have seen him sniff, glance over
he really almost never checks the meat in your pot,
nor reconnoiters the place of your rendezvous
just to be sure.


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