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John Muir And The Environmental Conservation Movement

1690 words - 7 pages

The conservation movement of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the environmental movement which came about after 1950 had symbolic and ideological relationships, but were quite different in their social roots and objectives. A clear point is that especially in the beginning, only the elite, wealthy class, had time left to think and enjoy nature and joined the environmental movement organizations. It was born out a movement of amateurs. The organizations of the environmental movement viewed natural resources such as water, land, and air, as recourses that would improve the quality of life (Sandbach, 1980). The conservation movement grew out of the idea of how to use water, ...view middle of the document...

He was born on April 21, 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland. Until the age of eleven he attended the local schools of that coastal town. In 1849, the Muir family emigrated to the United States. During this time slavery was still common in the United States. Therefore John Muir dealt with that slavery the first 16 years in the United States, until the end of the Civil war. After that, blacks and whites were still not equal. The history of slavery was still present in the community, even after slavery was outlawed (Flyer: John Muir Exhibit - Sierra Club, 2004 (writer unknown)). This is why John Muir had a bigoted upbringing. He lived in a time when bigotry was common. Although he was not a real wealthy and high class person, he was still bigoted.

John Muir had a Christian upbringing, even though later on in his life, he believed in nature; and not in god anymore. His wife was a devout Christian. Because of his Christian upbringing and his Christian wife, he became bigoted as well, because the Christian believe is a bigoted believe (Fox 1981).

John Muir sometimes made fun of the Irish and this was bigotry as well. However this has to do with his nationality; he was a Scotsman, and the Scottish were known to make jokes about the Irish ((Flyer: John Muir Exhibit - Sierra Club, 2004 (writer unknown)). You can also find the White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) feeling in his ideas about the environmental movement. He and other wasps were "good", and the African-American, Jews and other non WASP immigrants were not equal to him, and the other WASPs. During his life, there were just the earlier explained factors that made him racist towards "niggers", Jews, and other non WASP immigrants. This was not really thinking of his own, but more what was going on in the country at that time. Fox (1981) seems to glorify John Muir and look over the fact that he was a bigot. In other literature that is written about John Muir, you see that Fox (1981) was an admirer of John Muir and that he did not want to show Muir as a bigoted person (Fox 1981) (Shabecoff, P. 1934).

When looking at the environmental movement as a whole, you can see that elitism, classism, racism, and bigotry became integral to the movement.

Elitism is integral to the movement because of the people who started the environmental organizations. Those people were from an elevated, wealthy class, and they decided if the new people who wanted to join could join or not. It was a democratic vote for the ones who were already in the organization. They were the ones who decided if a new person was allowed to join. Even only because they did not like him, they could simply say no. they wanted to have colleagues and friends around them of the same elite class, they would not let African-Americans, and other non WASPs, people outside their elite class, join (fox 1981). This is how elitism was created in a natural way.

Classism was also integral to the environmental...

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