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Letters

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Parent Issue
Month
September
Year
1996
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held By
Agenda Publications
OCR Text

Have a raspes to an artícle we publíshed? AGENDA wants to know whatyou thinkl Send letters by the 21 st day of the montti preceding publication of our next Issue to: Editor, AGENDA, 220 S. Main St, Ann Arbor, Ml 48104. Pleaseinclude youraddress and phone number (not for publication). AGENDA reserves the rightto editor rejectany letter. We give preference to letters under 4OO words. Elizabeth Clare' s article abo ut industrial forestry ("Clearcut ... NotSoClearCut," Aug. 1996) was beautifully written, compelling and insightful, and AGENDA deserves credit for publishing a piece that most mainstream publications would not have dared touch. But toward the end of the article, on the last page, the third-to-last paragraph begins, "As citizens of the most powerful imperialist, resource-greedy nation in the world, as white people [italics mine], ... are we now serious about changing ourrelationship to theplanet and its resources?" Forgive me, but I take of fense at the suggestion that this article, or AGENDA itself, is directed toward a readership of white people. I take offense at the ass umption that "we" readers are white, when many of us obviously are not. And I resent the implication that only white people need be concerned about environmental issues. Whether all people of non-white heritage would be as offended as I was by what Ms. Clare wrote, I can't say. But you couldn't blame them if they were. Are people of color not meant to have a role in changing our culture 's attitudes toward the environment? Do people of color not share in the respons ibility for the environment? Do we not all use paper? Do we not all appreciate the beauty of a spotted owl or a marbled murrelet? I'm sure Elizabeth Clare meant well - that she feit that people of color have suffered enough without having to shoulder the burden (and the blame) for our environmental woes. It's a mis take that a lot of middle-class, college-educated - and yes even "lesbian, socialist, feminist" white people might make. But please consider that non-whites might rather be included in efforts to protect the environment (even if it means taking some of the blame) than be excluded as a patronizing gesture of kindness. Two wrongs, as they say, don't make a right. Migbt I also point out that as a Chrisüan I feit offended by Ms. Clare' s use of the lowercase when rendering the word christianity? This is notonly an offensive slur to people like me who happen to consider ourselves followers of Christ, but it's also grammatically ridiculous. Christianity is a noun derived from a proper name and so is capitalized. Rendering the word correctly does not imply an endorsement of Christianity, and rendering it incorrectly does not make up for the actions of Christians such as Columbus (columbus?) and Cortes (cortes?) and rapacious paper companies in Oregon. Rather this lower-case rendering simply insults Christians while also demonstrating a lack of erudition and espousing an ill-founded belief that creative use of capitalization (e.g. Native instead of native, butchristian instead of Christian; or Black versus white) can shift the balance of power between groups of people andor undo damage that groups of people have inflicted upon each other. Would Ms. Clare render Buddhism as "buddhism" or Lutheranism as "lutheranism" or Judaism as "judaism"? Would yourcopy editors let these renderings stand? I should hope not - first because they would be grammatically incorrect, and second because they would offend people. I'm sure we all wish that fixing social problems were as simple as denying certain groups the "privilege" of a proper noun. But would rendering Ku Klux Klan as "ku klux klan" make those people any less terrifying? Would rendering Washington, Jefferson and Madison streets as "Washington," "jefferson," and "madison" undo the fact that those men founded an American (american?) culture based on genocide and slavery? I submit that it would not. AGENDA is a fine publication, and the last place on earth that I expect to encounter racial and religious prejudice. I'm sure the slurs in Elizabeth Clare's article were inadvertent and unintentional. Nevertheless I hope you'll be a little more sensitive in the future.

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