Just what does Chilton Williamson, Jr., your “environmental” thinker, believe? In “Now Hear This!!!” (The Hundredth Meridian, May), he claims that the federal government wants to “remove the existing rural population from the land.” That is an outlandish remark. Mr. Williamson says that “nearly all environmentalists are effectively Deep Ecologists now . . . ” Wrong again. Most of them are so shallow that they do little more than hunt and fish, drive ATVs and snowmobiles, while calling themselves “environmentalists.” Contrary to Mr, Williamson’s arguments, the real war on the West is being sponsored by die recreational-vehicle industry, five-dollar-per-acre land-grab mining companies, a timber industry that harvests timber below cost, and immigrants—illegal and legal—who have not the slightest notion of how a healthy nation can hold itself together.
Mr. Williamson supports Gale Norton because she is a clone of James Watt and complains that his gas bill is too high because the environmentalists were “talking with rocks, trees, grizzly bears, and clouds . . . ” What is this supposed to mean?
So that there will be elk in the forests for Mr. Williamson to gun down with his rifle and for Indian tribes to attack with a fleet of ATVs and snowmobiles, many of us in the environmental wars have spent a large part of our lives maintaining federal, state, and private land. Are those of us who choose to preserve nature worthy of the epithet “slaves to nature”?
Mr. Williamson should stick to knockabout tales of the people and places of the West, the landscapes, the distances, and what immigration is doing to take it all away. That, we know, he can do with the best of them!
Lake Mills, WI
Mr. Williamson Replies:
Mr. Tillotson’s rant is so off the mark, tendentious, and falsely suggestive, so based on what seems a deliberately careless reading of what I wrote, that I have a hard time finding the string to pull that would unravel this ball of confused charges. First, Mr. Tillotson claims my suggestion that the federal government wants to remove citizens from the land is “outlandish.” While I don’t specify the feds as having this goal in mind, at least two plans I know of are currently in train—one for the past ten years or more—to vacate the Northern Plains and return them to the status of a buffalo commons.
Second, I don’t know the environmentalists Mr. Tillotson knows. The organized movement I’m familiar with out West is certainly Deep Ecologist, at bottom. And it does support—in fact, it is behind—every goal and campaign against the traditional West.
Third, I don’t complain that my gas bill is too high: I merely allude to the fact. Further, I don’t take sides here on the Gale Norton appointment, though I consider the idea of a “Great Undoing” laughable.
Fourth, is Mr. Tillotson an anti-gunner and an animal-rights activist as well as an environmentalist, as his rhetoric suggests? (Hunting is not a “sport,” as José Ortega y Gasset once explained.)
Fifth, of course, the act of protecting and preserving nature doesn’t make you a slave. It is, rather, the spirit in which one acts, not the acts themselves, that enslave.
What confuses Mr. Tillotson, I believe, is that he—quite rightly—discerns that I despise organized environmentalism at least as much as I loathe the pro-development lobby. If anything, I despise them more: Carl Pope is a more hypocritical human being than Dick Cheney, as the Sierra Club’s refusal to condemn current immigration policy proves.
On the Editor’s Art
Although there’s been little reason to complain about the types of editorial changes made by your magazine, an unsettling amount of liberty seems to have been taken with my recent review, “The Janus Faces of War” (May). Specifically, the concluding sentence was made to express a judgment different from the one I intended to convey. While I certainly do not share Alan J. Levine’s predominantly positive opinions about the political changes that occurred during the Roosevelt and human presidencies, I believe he writes in a responsible and often courageous way. His stated views on ethnic whining, social mores, and the Cold War have served to isolate him professionally and ideologically from the historiographical mainstream.
From what I can see, the mistake in wording occurred because of a departure from the praiseworthy practice followed, except in this case, of sending me galleys before printing my essay. I’ve every confidence that this practice will be resumed.
—Dr. Paul Gottfried
The Editors Reply:
We faxed Dr. Gottfried his galleys. If he failed to receive them, it was his duty to inform us. We admit to making changes in his review, both for the sake of clarity, correctness, and coherence, and to eliminate some of the exuberant encomia lavished upon a writer whom Dr. Gottfried acknowledges to be his good friend and former student.
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