Some people might remember the “Just Say Julie” show when MTV used to be good. Well, maybe not, but there was an episode where Julie Brown suits up as an environmental “superhero,” and dispenses with polluters and litterbugs with all the subtly of a blowtorch: “Of course I’m crazy—that’s why they call me ‘Eco-Gal’.” The reputation of environmentalists have run the gamut from amateur nature buffs, concerned scientists, politicians looking for an angle, advocacy organizations, “direct action” crusaders, and so-called “eco-terrorists.” Other groups have more subtle—and more sinister—agendas behind their environmentalist façade. A few days ago, the Seattle Times—which never passes-up an opportunity to publish a story prominently that extols the virtues of a woman of power and means—printed a story above the front page cutline featuring one Cordelia Scaife May, who died years ago but is apparently still newsworthy. Unfortunately for the Times, it didn’t read the fine print in the LA Times story, although admittedly the author only skimmed the surface of the truth about Scaife May.
Scaife May has been variously praised as a “philanthropist,” which is about the best that can be said about someone born into extreme wealth and hadn’t worked a useful hour in her life. She was the daughter of Alan Scaife and Mellon banking heiress Sarah Mellon, and inherited $800 million of the vast family fortune. Scaife May’s equally indolent brother Richard Mellon Scaife is a chip off the politically far-right family block as well; Scaife is given to crude language (in 1981 he told a Wall Street Journal reporter inquiring about his funding of “New Right” causes "You fucking Communist cunt, get out of here"), far-right conspiracy theories (he owns a large share of the far-right paranoid-fantasy Internet site Newsmax, which habitually tells us that the next impeachment-worthy scandal about to befall Barack Obama is only days away), and has given extensively to far-right causes—particularly to groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as anti-immigrant hate groups (FAIR, NumbersUSA, Center For Immigration Studies).
Scaife May’s own influences include Margaret Sanger, whose “population control” ideas were influenced by “scientific” racism and eugenics, which were also espoused by Scaife May’s good friend John Tanton, an “environmentalist”-turned-white supremacist, whose anti-immigrant beliefs are based solely on ugly racial stereotypes. She gave generously to the Pioneer Fund and even distributed its Nazified literature; according to its website, eugenics and "race purity" are legitimate fields of research, and “However harshly today we may judge support for policies such as sterilization of those deemed to be ‘unfit,’ prohibition of racial intermarriage, and severe restrictions on immigration — it is wrong to equate these ideas with ‘Nazism,' gas chambers, and some of the worst mass murders, war crimes, and crimes against humanity ever committed."
In other words, Nazi racial philosophy was “correct”—but the Fund just doesn’t want to be associated with all of its “methods” for carrying it out.
While some of Scaife May's “philanthropy”—most notably through her COLCOM Foundation—is “legitimate,” that has been mostly for “pet” projects with only local application. Her long-term “vision” was almost exclusively in the area of “population control,” which she meant to be immigration control, and specifically immigration by “inferior” races—who allegedly are not as environmentally “sound” as wealthy white people who are most responsible for environmental and resource destruction.
Scaife May's fascist friend Tanton at one point expressed doubt about whether racial minorities, if they became the "majority" and whites the "minority," would share white people's environmental "values." Of course, white folks have no one to blame but themselves for their procreation difficulties, but then again I never thought the world was worse off with fewer Hitler Youth. One may note with no small amount of irony that it is the white Right that is most opposed to environmental “values” and protection; but then again, racism and environmentalism has had a long history of entanglement—even within such established organizations as the Sierra Club.
In fact white supremacists have always seen environmentalists as “natural” allies. The SPLCenter has compiled an interesting timeline detailing the historical record; here are some of the “highlights”—in which Scaife May’s best buddy Tanton is a recurring character:
The environmentalist Sierra Club (SC) publishes The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich, who was encouraged to undertake the project by David Brower, a longtime SC executive director. The book, defining population as an environmental issue and suggesting coercion be used in underdeveloped countries to depress fertility, surpasses Rachel Carson's landmark 1962 work Silent Spring to become the best-selling ecology book of the 1960s. Also published in 1968 is ecologist Garrett Hardin's famous Malthusian essay, "The Tragedy of the Commons." Hardin is a believer in eugenics (the "science" of selective breeding aimed at producing better humans) whose research is backed by the racist grant-maker Pioneer Fund (PF). The essay concludes, "Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all."
Michigan environmentalist John Tanton attends the First National Congress on Optimum Population and the Environment in Chicago, where he meets population-control activists including Ehrlich and Hardin.
Tanton becomes chairman of the SC's National Population Committee, where he will serve until 1975. Also in the early 1970s, Tanton is active in his hometown Petoskey, Mich., chapter of the SC and other environmental groups.
Tanton quits ZPG (“Zero Population Growth”) after the group moves away from treating immigration as a major cause of population growth.
May 5-6, 1978
The SC urges the federal government to examine the impact of immigration policies on population trends and environmental resources. It argues that each region of the world must achieve a balance between population and resources.
Tanton founds the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) with the help of other former ZPG members angered by ZPG's lack of interest in immigration restriction.
SC officials testify to the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Reform that it is "obvious that the numbers of immigrants the United States accepts affects our population size" and adds that it is an "important question how many immigrants the United States wants to accept."
Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) is founded by former members of the California chapter of ZPG. Unlike ZPG, CAPS blames high immigration levels for ravaging California's environment. On its board are Otis Graham, a close Tanton friend, and UCLA astronomy professor Ben Zuckerman. An emeritus board member is David Brower, the SC's first executive director. In later years, CAPS will accept funding from the PF, which supports studies linking race and intelligence.
March 30, 1988
Tanton writes Gregory Curtis of the far-right Cordelia Scaife May Foundation regarding immigrants' purported lack of environmental values. "What will happen when [the white population] goes into minority status, and the groups that comprise the new coalition majorities don't share the same [environmental] values?" Tanton wonders. "Will all the gains be lost in the twenty-first century, when there is no longer a majority to defend them in the legislature?"
Tanton's 1986 WITAN memos are leaked to The Arizona Republic in the midst of a battle in Arizona over a law that would mandate that all government documents be written in English. At the time, Tanton is head of U.S. English (USE), which is backing the proposal. The memos warn of a coming "Latin onslaught" and fret that high Latino birth rates will lead "the present majority to hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile." Tanton also asks if Latinos will "bring with them the tradition of the mordida [bribe], the lack of involvement in public affairs." Arnold Schwarzenegger and Walter Cronkite both quit the USE board over the memos' racially inflammatory language, as does executive director Linda Chavez, a conservative commentator. Tanton resigns from USE.
The SC issues its strongest immigration-restriction policy statement to date, saying, "Immigration to the United States should be no greater than that which will permit achievement of population stabilization in the United States." It adds: "Sierra Club statements on immigration will always make the connection between immigration, population increase in the U.S., and the environmental consequences thereof." But the SC says it is interested only in the numbers of immigrants, not who they are.
CA prop 187 The People of California find and declare as follows: That they have suffered and are suffering economic hardship caused by the presence of illegal immigrants in this state. That they have suffered and are suffering personal injury and damage caused by the criminal conduct of illegal immigrants in this state. That they have a right to the protection of their government from any person or persons entering this country unlawfully.
Feb. 24, 1996
The SC board abandons its restrictionist 1989 policy, opting to "take no position on immigration levels or on policies governing immigration into the United States," and forbidding anyone speaking in the club's name to call for immigration reduction as a way to reach U.S. population stabilization. The board refuses a straight up-or-down vote on the resolution, instead adding to that year's internal SC ballot a proposal affirming the statement and calling for action against the "root causes of global population problems." That decision spawns a countermovement by SC members who propose a resolution that calls for a "reduction in net immigration."
Carrying Capacity Network (CCN) and the especially hard-line anti-immigration group Americans for Immigration Control (AIC) sponsor two conferences that bring together environmentalists and anti-immigration activists. After one, Eric Draper, a senior vice president at NAS, says he "was uncomfortable" with the tone of a FAIR speaker and tells a reporter that "I think the attempt to marry the environment with immigration is a very hard sell and I don't think most people will buy it."
Representatives of 40 smaller environmental organizations — groups like LA Earth First! and Friends of the Sea Otter — reportedly gather in Estes Park, Colo., along with openly bigoted groups like the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) and Voice of Citizens Together (both of which are later listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC). Together, the groups form the Alliance for Stabilizing America's Population, or ASAP! The event, organized by PEB, features speeches by former Sen. Gaylord Nelson, University of Colorado emeritus physics professor Albert Bartlett, and syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer, all close Tanton friends. ASAP! calls for a five-year ceiling on immigration at 100,000 a year and alleges, contrary to well-settled law, that the 14th Amendment does not guarantee citizenship to children born to undocumented workers.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Tanton and SC board member Dave Foreman, co-founder of EarthFirst!, are introducing a proposed SC anti-immigration policy for a direct vote by the entire membership. Anne Ehrlich, whose husband Paul wrote The Population Bomb, officially sponsors the measure. In the next year, advocates will gather enough signatures to get it on the SC's internal ballot.
Dec. 3, 1997
The SC's Pope tells the Lewiston [Idaho] Morning Tribune that the Ehrlich proposal "is not America at its best. It's America at its worst. And for the Sierra Club to be dragged into this kind of cesspool is very unfortunate."
NUSA releases a video, "Immigration by the Numbers: An Environmental Choice," that is narrated by Monique Miller of Wild Earth (a group that later disappears). In the film, Miller blames sprawl on immigrants.
The SC's 550,000 members receive ballots asking them if they support "Alternative A," requiring the SC to advocate ending population growth, in part by restricting immigration, or "Alternative B," which reaffirms the SC's 1996 policy of neutrality on immigration. Alternative A, which also calls for no more than 200,000 immigrants to be admitted annually, is supported by Kuper, Foreman, Nelson, Paul Erhlich, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society leader Paul Watson, Rainforest Action leader Randy Hayes and Worldwatch Institute leader Lester Brown.
April 25, 1998
After a heated campaign featuring charges of "the greening of hate," the SC announces its members have voted 60%-40% against changing the club's neutral stance on immigration (although just 13% of SC members voted), a position also supported by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the NAS and Friends of the Earth. Still, nearly 30,000 people vote for the anti-immigration position. SC Executive Director Pope says "overpopulation is, without question, a fundamental cause of the world's ills," but that a vote in favor of Alternative A would mean that the SC "would be perceived as assisting people whose motivations are racist."
Changing tactics again, SUSPS gets a statement on the annual SC ballot that blames sprawl on population growth, which for SUSPS is mostly driven by immigration. At the same time, Zuckerman, backed by SUSPS, runs for the board. Both Zuckerman and the ballot proposal are defeated.
SUSPS Chairman Bill Elder testifies to the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, blaming an "immigration boom" for damaging the environment. Also testifying in the same vein are Frank Morris, a FAIR board member and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and David Pimentel, a Cornell professor of entomology who is also on the board of CCN.
SUSPS announces a major push to win an SC board majority opposed to immigration. The group endorses Robert van de Hoek, three-time Colorado governor Richard Lamm (who joined the SC earlier in the year), Kim McCoy, Morris and Pimentel. Lamm and Morris both serve on the board of FAIR, while Pimentel is on the CCN board. Pimentel is interviewed by Tanton's The Social Contract.
Nativist groups start alerting backers about the upcoming SC elections. The Social Contract urges supporters to join the SC in time vote for those concerned with "endless U.S. population growth." The National Immigration Alert List urges followers to vote for directors "who are concerned about the environmental consequences of our immigration-driven U.S. population growth."
Oct. 21, 2003
Citing notices in the nativist press, the SPLC's Mark Potok writes to SC President Larry Fahn to warn of a "hostile takeover attempt" by anti-immigration forces.
Zuckerman sends fellow SC board members an article from the virulently anti-immigrant VDARE.com website that claims Latinos are spreading disease and crime in the U.S., and that "Hispandering politicians" are allowing this to happen. During the same month, Barbara Coe encourages members of her CCIR, listed by the SPLC as a hate group, to join the SC. (In 1998, Coe made a similar effort, later claiming that 6,500 of her members joined the SC and voted for "Alternative A," the proposed nativist policy, even though she then told a reporter she was no "tree-hugger.")
Jan. 8, 2004
SC member and virulent nativist Brenda Walker, a contributor to Tanton's The Social Contract, asks VDARE.com readers to "join the Sierra Club NOW and have your vote influence this debate." She adds, "The prize is enormous."
The Sprawl City website goes up, focusing on "how uncontrolled immigration levels threaten America's environmental stability." In particular, immigrants are blamed for creating sprawl. Registered to NUSA, the site says it relies on research by NUSA leader Beck and Kolankiewicz.
The ATB website is inaugurated. Don Weeden, brother of Alan Weeden and another principal of the family foundation that bankrolls both major nativist groups and environmental organizations, tells a CIS panel that the ATB will take on the population consequences of immigration to the U.S. environment. The ATB website is run by Elder. Another ATB member is Colorado State University philosophy professor Philip Cafaro.
Full-page ads appear in The New York Times, The Nation, Harper's Magazine and other publications seen as liberal, signed by a new group calling itself America's Leadership Team for Long Range Population-Immigration-Resource Planning (ALT). The group is a coalition of five existing organizations — CAPS, NUSA, FAIR, TSC and AICF (the last three are listed as hate groups by the SPLC, and all five have received funding from Tanton). "We're the nation's leading experts on population and immigration trends and growth," boasts one of the ads. Pitched to environmentalists, the ads claim that an immigration-fueled population boom will dramatically worsen traffic congestion and destroy pristine land. One shows a highway clogged with vehicles above the caption, "One of America's Most Popular Pastimes." The other depicts a bulldozer clearing forest above the words, "One of America's Best Selling Vehicles." They are designed by Davis & Co., which FAIR pays $983,802 in 2008 and $348,442 in 2007, according to its tax returns.
Jan. 21, 2010
NUSA's Beck, who describes himself as an environmentalist, speaks on a panel, "Perverse Incentives, Subsidies, and Tax Code Impediments to a Sustainable Economy," at The New Green Economy conference sponsored by the National Council for Science and the Environment.
Feb. 26, 2010
Mixing environmental with "cultural" concerns, FAIR issues a revealing statement: "Immigration policy must be limited to conserve our environment, open space, and natural resources. It should enhance our national culture, not radically alter or Balkanize it."
PFIR releases "From Big to Bigger: How Mass Immigration and Population Growth Have Exacerbated America's Ecological Footprint," by Kolankiewicz, who now serves on PFIR's board of advisors. Kolankiewicz argues that "immigration is increasing America's Ecological Footprint, pushing our country deeper into ecological deficit," and laments environmentalists' scant interest in the issue. He writes that "the Environmental Establishment dropped its advocacy and retreated into uncomfortable silence and abject denial on U.S. population."
As you can see, environmentalism and racism—cloaked in the guise of immigration—is sometimes hard to distinguish, despite the efforts of some legitimate environmental organizations to distance themselves from the more radical ideas. It is interesting to note that China—which has four times the population of the U.S.—has a land mass of similar size. Thus the only explanation for the rhetoric is white fear of being a “minority,” although if they have anything to fear, it is a consequence of their own attitudes. That of Cordelia Scaife May, unfortunately, continues beyond the grave, as those white supremacists and xenophobes she placed in charge of her foundations are merely carrying out her wishes.