Brenda Walker’s article in the latest issue of The Social Contract laments the environmental movement’s drift from “traditional” notions of environmentalism. Walker accuses the usual suspects (Socialist ideology, Saul Alinsky) of leading the environmental movement astray; that is, she has noticed the diminished relevancy of bigots like herself.
The Social Contract was founded by John Tanton and is currently edited by Wayne Lutton, both white nationalists. Tanton is the architect of the modern-day anti-immigrant movement, which clearly informs Walker’s immigrant scape-goating. Walker also writes for the apologetically racist VDARE.com, founded by white nationalist Peter Brimelow.
Walker’s own website is a disgusting homage to xenophobia; she is particularly hateful toward Islam and Arabs, and toward Latino immigrants. Some choice descriptions I stumbled across include calling Mexicans “fleebags (sic)” and derisively stating that refugees are “too stupid to know how to hold a pencil.”
The purpose of Walker’s article is to malign the Sierra Club for successfully defending itself against an attempted anti-immigrant coup in the early 2000s. In 1996 a group of Sierra Club members and anti-immigration activists tried to force the club to take a stance on U.S. immigration. In Walker’s version, these activists were merely concerned club members, not pawns of the Tanton Network. In fact, the Tanton Network managed to get three strategically selected people voted on to the Sierra Club’s fifteen-person board of directors, and tried to force an anti-immigrant platform through the club’s voting process. This had been a long-time personal dream for Tanton, who desired to see his agenda have greater influence within the Sierra Club.
Doubtless, Walker is still smarting from her own ineffective role in the Sierra Club debacle, and describes the Club’s triumphant defeat of the anti-immigrant agenda as “lost virtue.” She suggests that the change only took place when a wealthy donor promised to withhold funding if the club touched the immigration issue. In fact, the club’s board took a progressive stance on global population. In 1998, sixty percent of the voting membership rejected the anti-immigrant lobby’s proposal to make an anti-immigration stance central to the work of the Sierra Club, and the anti-immigrant lobby has been almost entirely ousted from the club’s ranks.
Walker also attacks what she perceives as the drifting agenda of the modern environmental movement. With its emphasis on climate change, she claims, the “traditional concerns of conservationists [are] largely put aside.” Walker believes that the current emphasis on climate change is less a scientific consensus and more a “simplifie[d] fund-raising and messaging” tactic.
It is utterly false to characterize the environmental movement as having a singular focus on climate change. Even though climate change has the potential to define the 21st century, it is not the only focus of environmental efforts or research. However, considerable research is dedicated to climate change because of its clear systemic anthropogenic implications. Efforts to address climate change are not some kind of fleece, drawn over the eyes of watchful environmentalists who could otherwise attend to “traditional” environmental problems; ie, obsessing over immigration. What Walker fails to admit is that environmentalists are concerned with preserving the biosphere, while bigots are concerned with preserving the white majority.
Brenda Walker is not affecting radical environmental change – she is spewing disgusting bigotry into the bowels of the internet. Rather than addressing legitimate environmental problems like inequitable distribution of resources, war and militarization, and pollution’s effect on urban health, Walker dedicates her time to scape-goating and hate speech. As an individual she is irrelevant, but the anti-immigrant lobby continues to try and divert the momentum of the environmental movement toward their own goals. It is essential for the environmental community to call-out bigotry when it rears its ugly head.