What do a Star Tribune columnist and the directors of the world’s first “anti-environmentalist” documentary have in common? They know what you think – and you my environmentally concerned friend are an evil zealot.
I read Katherine Kersten’s diatribe on environmentalists the other day and I can say that I learned one thing before dismissing it: if she were ever to walk along and find you suffering and collapsed on the side of the road, she’d smile, kick you in the face and steal your wallet.
I didn’t think about her rant again until I saw the promo for “Mine Your Own Business” yesterday. While I believe that my attention being brought to the two works in two days is coincidental, I do not believe that random phenomena lead to the fact that both Kersten and the director of the movie describe environmentalists – and those who would agree with them – as zealots (I smell a “think” tank at work). Nor do I believe that they aren’t after the same thing: to undermine democracy.
Let’s be honest; they hate environmentalists with a truly blinding passion. I work with environmentalists every day. MEP has over 80 organizational members, providing me a pretty good variety of thoughts and approaches on any given issue. And I can honestly say that I do not know a single person who fits Ms. Kersten’s description of the doomsday type. The movie appears to use the same color paint on their brush. Had she not been interested in using outrageous stereotypes to incite rage in you and I, she might have taken the time to talk to Minnesotans who care about clean water and healthy kids. Instead, you’re just a zealot.
What troubles me most is not their words; I expect people to disagree with me often. What troubles me is that they have chosen to use tactics that will completely prevent a civil discourse on any given topic.
Take mining for example. The movie travels around the world to portray “Western Environmentalists” as encouraging poverty for our own amusement and we do so by fighting against all of the great jobs created through “environmentally friendly” mining. The website for the movie neglects to mention that the documentary was partially financed by a Canadian mining company or that the first screening of the movie in the US was at a convention of gold mining companies. (Perhaps that’s just an oversight on their part though, I haven’t asked.)
Contrast that with the mining folks included in the MPR story covering an event sponsored by the Izaak Walton League chapter in Duluth on Wednesday night. The issue is over whether or not Minnesota can mine nickel and copper in an environmentally friendly manner. The Ikes weren’t really sure, so they brought in some people who have serious concerns (and many MEP member groups do) and they brought in a representative from Polymet, the company that wants to mine. And they talked about it. Crazy kids.
Quick aside, those of you paying real close attention will notice that the mining representative and I share the same last name. We are not related, but based off his accent in the radio interview, I’d guess he has a more direct claim to the Hunter family castle in Scotland than I do.
So why didn’t Polymet just go out and finance someone to portray a group of concerned hunters and anglers as lunatics? I don’t know. Perhaps they didn’t think of it. Perhaps they realize that democracy needs open dialog for any progress to be made. Unlike Ms. Kersten, I cannot profess to know their thoughts because I’ve never met them. I do give them credit for looking to talk about the issue in a setting that would at first appear stacked against them. I still don’t like the Polymet proposal, but that’s another post another time.
Going back to the big picture, there are some very legitimate concerns out in the world about members of the environmentalist family. We’d all be better off if we could talk about them openly, but as long as a minute segment of folks are chomping at the bit to twist words and spew hatred there really won’t be an atmosphere to do that properly.
So, who are these big bad environmentalists anyway? Minnesotans.
Yup, you, me and over three quarters of our neighbors. We’ve asked. Our last public opinion poll asked if the randomly sampled Minnesotan speaking considered himself or herself an environmentalist. And 61 percent said yes they do. Another 21 percent considered themselves to be Conservationists. That’s 82 percent of Minnesotans who some would have you believe are just a bunch of zealots.