Haters, Legislators and Patriots

The blog takes a slightly different approach this time, venting about a few deplorable news items that recently caught my attention (meaning, really ticked me off).

A few days ago, the Anchorage Daily News reported that a notoriously hate-filled group (which I will not dignify by naming here) is planning to send demonstrators to the Alaska Native Heritage Center in June because "God hates your idols," apparently in an ill-conceived reference to Alaska Native cultural traditions.  These are the same bigots who protest at military funerals, claiming that their god is punishing America for tolerating gays. 

Just this week, after the murders that occurred at a Jewish Community Center on the eve of Passover, the group’s leader announced plans to picket the funerals of the victims because “God is not mocked. He sends curses to this nation such as the shooter at the Overland Park JCC to remind this nation that she has sinned away her day of grace."  Give me the so-called idols over that false god any day. 

The ADN article notes that this hate group is from Topeka, Kansas, which got me thinking about whether the ethical argument I am trying to build with the Whose Land? series of posts might in any way lend support to bigoted activities by outsiders who presume to bring their venomous drivel to Alaska.  My answer to that question is a definitive "No."  What makes the views of these hate mongers morally repugnant, even if protected legally by the First Amendment, is their perversion of religious faith into cynical intolerance, not the fact that they are outsiders to Alaska.  They would be equally abhorrent anywhere.

My Whose Land? series explores a different issue, which is the moral standing of, say, a Midwestern corporate lawyer, to advocate for land use policy on the arctic coastal plain of Alaska.  This discussion assumes the basic moral decency of the points being advanced on both sides and the civility of discourse even with those who disagree.

Update:  The ADN has more recently reported on comments from the Southern Poverty Law Center to the effect that the hate mongers have a history of seeking publicity by announcing offensive protests, but actually show up less than half of the time.  Counter protests are being planned just in case they do.  

Another distressing news item:  a couple of U.S. Senators representing extraction industries have introduced legislation that would strip the EPA of authority to preemptively block or revoke permits for mine waste disposal that would damage watersheds.  This is the Clean Water Act 404(c) authority that I discussed in my Legal Roundup post.  I don’t think the bill has any chance of passage, but it is an unfortunate continuation of the assault on the EPA that has previously shown up as proposals to de-fund or even abolish the agency. 

In proposing this legislation, one of the Senators argued that the EPA "has been waging a destructive war against energy production."  He is from West Virginia, the state in which the Mingo Logan mountaintop removal coal mine is located.  As noted in my recent post, that’s the one where the Supreme Court recently declined to hear an appeal challenging the EPA’s 404(c) authority.  The Senate bill would undo the Mingo Logan case and undermine its precedential support of the EPA’s authority with respect to the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay. 

And a final note from the recent press.  You might have read about the anarchist in Nevada who has defied federal authority over cattle grazing lands.  My concern with this one is the ongoing usurpation of the term “patriot” by groups that are anything but.  He and his supporters have used this term extensively and there are many other examples of the hijacking of the term “patriot” by radical anti-government groups such as the so-called militias that have flocked to his side. 

My wish would be to return this noble word to fair usage by folks across the political spectrum, including in the context of environmental patriotism as articulated by Richard Nelson, Terry Tempest Williams and Barry Lopez in Patriotism and the the American Land.  Liberals and environmental advocates should not cede the use of the term “patriot” to a far out fringe.

Glad I got these off my chest.  Look for a more temperate post in the Whose Land? series on Saturday.


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