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Friday, February 04, 2005

Response to a liberal visitor

Here is the email response to the liberal visitor to my blog:

Thanks for your email. I hope you weren't too freaked out by my blog; I try to not be one of the shrill ones. Unlike some of my conservative cohorts, I have many friends on the other side and quite enjoy a civil conversation.

Regarding the Sowell article that I endorsed, let me first say that Dr. Sowell is best equipped to defend his position. I don't mean that as a cop-out. Dr. Sowell can be rather blunt sometimes and doesn't suffer the fool well (I include myself in that category as I got a rather terse email reply from him one time).

That being said, let me make two points about his article. Dr. Sowell generally is writing for a particular audience; that is, a conservative one. I suspect had his article been placed in a outlet with a broader audience, he may have changed some of his wording. It is no different than Kos making some over the top statements because of his audience, when he might not make the same statement to a wider audience (I'm trying to give Kos the benefit of the doubt).

You are certainly correct that there is much skepticism of the environmental movement from the right. Let me try to explain the skepticism. Although it is commonly interpreted that conservatives don't give a **** about the environment and want to bulldoze everything, nothing could be further from the truth. Who do you think spends much time in tranquil woods trying to blast away at Bambi? hunting is a debate for another time) Mostly rural conservatives. You better believe that they are not going to let anyone destroy their forests.

There are two primary reasons for skepticism of the environmental movement; one is philosophical and the other is pragmatic. There is much concern that many in the environmental movement place environmental concerns above humans; there is certainly a sense in which some in the environmental movement view humans as a cancer on the earth. I think the Deep Ecology movement is the best example of what concerns conservatives. This quote from Michael Zimmerman best describes this outlook:

"Deep ecology is founded on two basic principles: one is a scientific insight into the interrelatedness of all systems of life on Earth, together with the idea that anthropocentrism - human-centeredness - is a misguided way of seeing things. Deep ecologists say that an ecocentric attitude is more consistent with the truth about the nature of life on Earth. Instead of regarding humans as something completely unique or chosen by God, they see us as integral threads in the fabric of life. They believe we need to develop a less dominating and aggressive posture towards the Earth if we and the planet are to survive."

This idea that we should have a eco-centric attitude is the primary stumbling block for most conservatives. While many secular conservatives do tend to be anthropocentric, I difffer in that I am God-centric.

As a Christian, I feel very strongly that we have an obligation to be good stewards of the earth and I am not the only one. If you feel so inclined, I have included some links to a few articles that describe how some Christian conservatives view the environment:

http://www.acton.org/publicat/randl/article.php?id=304
http://www.acton.org/publicat/randl/article.php?id=227
http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/ecology.html

Regarding the pragmatic concerns about the environmental movement, many conservatives feel that government regulation simply doesn't work to protect the environment because of the concept of the "Tragedy of the Commons". That is, because no one really own much land in this country, it is not cared for in the way
that it would be if it were under private ownership. The biggest planter of trees in the world are the forestry companies such as International Paper and Georgia Pacific. This point can obviously be debated, but I'm trying to explain the objections.

I didn't mean to get into a environmental treatise this morning, but simply wanted to let you know that many conservatives are concerned about the environment and do not necessarily view people who care about wetlands as extremist.

Getting back to the idea of protest, I certainly believe that there is a place for protest in this country. Unfortunately, much of the violent protest over the past few years has come from the left, such as the globalization protests in Seattle. That is not to excuse any violent protest from those on the right; violent protest is always wrong (not to mention counterproductive). I think Dr. Sowell's concern about protest from the left is that the media tends to romantacize much of it, yet demonizes or ignores protest from the right.

I do agree with Dr. Sowell that the left has become increasingly intolerant. There is very little room within the Democratic party for differing viewpoints on issues such as abortion. The Republicans however, have a wide spectum of viewpoints.

I'd love to continue this dialog.

Peace,

Dignan


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