How Newt hit a nerve
The take of Beltway green Paul Pritchard of the National Parks and Conservation Association on the national environmental movement is: "We feel like General Custer." (-D.C. Green Power Brokers Look for New Home," HCN, 11/13/95). An apt analogy, indeed - though hardly a grassroots, cross-cultural organizing sentiment. The genocidal Custer got what he had coming. Just as insulting is Sierra Clubber Carl Pope's attempt to divert the blame to the public. His projection holds that the current eco-assault is the environmentally concerned American voters' fault because, "they do not hold (politicians) accountable."
Years of slavishly protecting "access' to politicians instead of protecting wildlands by Pope and the other high-paid CEOs of D.C. green groups has led to the very lack of accountability politicians face. Democratic Party chameleons all know that they can get their 90 percent League of Conservation Voters ratings handed to them by merely attending to the few no-brainer issues the league consistently serves up. Even Sen. Mark O. Hatfield, R-Ore., the "Architect of Extinction," gets a 90" rating from LCV. Just who is not holding these hacks accountable?
Jon Roush, CEO of the Wilderness Society, has the audacity to blame conservationists by claiming that since "ranchers (are) nascent environmentalists' and that "loggers liked being out in the woods," "a great organizing opportunity was missed" because environmentalists couldn't overlook the damage done by these eco-ranchers. Just what was the missed opportunity? The chance to do more old-growth logging like Roush carried out on his Montana ranch? The Wilderness Society never missed any opportunities to pollute its board of directors with timber CEOs, big ranchers and resource-extraction heirs.
Many of us grassroots environmentalists have worked in the woods and mills. Some still do. We all know that it's not the small rancher nor the guy riding the crummy to the logging site working to feed his family that's the enemy. It's the huge trans-national corporations, their PAC-controlled politicians and their corporate foundation-funded, cautious, careerist D.C.-greens that have been the three-legged stool of destruction. The long-practiced "go-along-to-get-along" policy of the national environmental groups has merely come home to roost in the age of the Newt.
The writer is president of Friends of the Breitenbush Cascades.