Voice: Who really are the extremists, gentlemen?

June 06, 2002

There are few things in life that make me angry but, even when they do, I usually manage to keep it to myself. Recent letters and articles in the I.V. Press have, however, pushed me past my limit of tolerance. I can no longer remain silent lest, by that silence, I appear to be agreeing with the likes of Mr. Mobley, Mr. Manning and especially Mr. Yniguez.

The invective and name-calling against environmentalists, a group in which I am proud to be included, has grown more strident and nasty with each letter. "Extremist" seems to be the epithet of choice. An "extremist" in the popular wisdom is someone willing to do anything, including murder and mayhem, to gain their goals.

Labeling a group as "extremist" tells people the group's views are not worth reading about or taking seriously. But who exactly is using "extremist" tactics? Are environmentalists being rude and disruptive at public meetings? Accusing the opposition of constant lying and deceit? Blaming them for every problem, economic and social? Or are we trying to keep things civil and rational, keep an open discourse without the name-calling?


Environmentalists are not fuzzy-minded, new-age-do-gooders with no grasp of how the world works. Instead we see only too well how it works and where it's going.

It may take a generation but attitudes can and do change. Take the attitudes toward energy and recycling. My husband has a hard time remembering to turn off the light or recycle anything, but to my children it's second nature.

I understand the OHV users' standpoint and I think a compromise can be reached about dunes use, but I don't think it can be reached unless and until adults come together to work something out. Adolescents can't see beyond what they want in the here and now; adults can see the repercussions in the future.

Apparently Mssrs. Mobley, Manning, and Yniguez cannot. Drilling in the ANWR will give you oil for a few years. But when it dries up, then what? You've got a ruined landscape and are still dependent on foreign oil. Chopping down trees in Africa to boil water gives clean water today. But when the trees are gone, then what? The landscape is denuded, the rainfall pattern changes, the soil dries up, blows away and you've got a desert that cannot support anyone.

Environmentalists care very much about people; we care that the air they breathe and the water they drink is clean, that something of value will be preserved for the future by the richest and most spoiled of generations.

There are two human attributes that appall me. One is arrogance. Why is it we have to fight so hard to preserve anything? Why do we have to "prove" an ecosystem or a species is worth saving? We have to spend years doing studies, spend large sums of money and print reams of paper to "prove" a species is endangered so a piece of land can be saved. Part of every ecosystem is worth saving just because it is THERE.

Even Mr. Mobley says the dunes are "a unique, one-of-kind experience." So why don't OHV users have to submit to the same scrutiny to open the land to use the rest of us do to close some of it?

The second one is stupidity. Mssrs. Mobley and Manning, while expressing strongly held views, seem at least like intelligent men. When I started reading Mr. Yniguez's column, my first reaction was "He should switch to decaf," closely followed by "He must have flunked Logic 101." By the end, though, all the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up and my blood ran cold. Mr. Yniguez, yelling at the top of your lungs "I'm right, I'm right" doesn't make you right, it makes you loud, and deaf to the voices of real people. Even if you spent every last dime in the GNP on defense and had enough missiles on the Atlantic Coast so you could walk from Florida to Maine without touching the ground, that would not have stopped the terrorists flying passenger planes into the Twin Towers.

A foreign policy based on greed and xenophobia instead of justice and compassion causes terrorism. I have two children in the military and one who lives in New York City, so I'm not some ivory-tower idealist, and there's one thing I am certain of — my environmental activism did not and will not put them in jeopardy but your neo-Nazi creed, if followed, undeniably will.

Finally, though, the most chilling thing was this one, small sentence, and I quote — "There is a final solution to the Muslim problem." The final solution. The Nazis had a "final solution," too. It's incomprehensible to me any civilized person could even think, let alone write, that.

And Mr. Yniguez calls us "extremists."


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