Thursday :: Apr 22, 2004

The Sierra Club Survives Takeover Threat


by Mary

Despite the best efforts of the anti-immigrationists ranks to stack the vote of the Sierra Club election, this week the members of the Sierra Club soundly defeated the stealth candidates that wished to takeover the club for their own means. This means that the Sierra Club will have a strong and effective role in the upcoming elections and they will articulate a clear and compelling message about why we must vote for an administration and a congress that really cares about the environment and the future of the world.

As I had reported, the Sierra Club had been targeted by John Tanton and his allies as yet one more organization to force the country to address immigration in his way. Tanton was a Sierra Club member who became obsessed with immigration in the 70s. He went off to form FAIR and a number of other organizations designed to stop immigration. He decided that the Sierra Club was going to support his goals, no matter what. In 1986, Tanton wrote a memo that stated, "The Sierra Club may not want to touch the immigration issue, but the immigration issue is going to touch the Sierra Club."

In 1996, he and his allies backed an anti-immigration plank designed to redirect the Club. However, Club members voted against this plank realizing it was inherently racist and also was not capable of fixing the environmental problems. Yet, that wasn't the end for Tanton. He spent the time after this defeat backing other candidates who supported his goal for the board.

This year, he and his allies came up with a new tactic. They recruited several candidates that would support an anti-immigrant plank, yet who had some environmental (or progressive) credentials. These candidates had not been members of the Sierra Club before this election, but ran so they could change the direction and goals of the club. Furthermore, they (or at least some of their more extreme followers) advertized their goal to take over the Sierra Club on extreme right wing web sites. These sites asked their followers to join the Sierra Club so they could vote for Tanton's selected candidates. They thought that by having their followers join the Sierra Club to vote in this election, they could take over the club. This tactic could have worked because normally not many club members vote in an board election and an organized set of new members could swing the election to their side. Fortunately, enough Sierra Club members realized the threat and made sure to vote this time.

Now that the voting is done, it is evident that this time, even more than in 1996, Sierra Club members rejected the candidates that would have added an anti-immigrant plank to the Club goals. The environmental problems the US faces cannot be fixed by building a fence around the US. If the problems arising from global warming and population stress are not solved at a global level, no country will escape the catastrophic consequences. We must work with others in the world to solve these problems and Tanton and his allies would have taken us seriously off track. Some of the most importand problems that the world needs to address cannot be solved in isolation and fortunately, a majority of the Sierra Club voting understood this.

Thank goodness Sierra Club members realized the threat and rose to the occasion. Now we can really fight for the key enviromental issues facing our country and the world.

Mary :: 6:47 AM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!