SocraticGadfly: High Country News goes from surrendering to movement rightists to kowtowing to SJW environmentalists

May 07, 2019

High Country News goes from surrendering to movement
rightists to kowtowing to SJW environmentalists

High Country News, which surrendered to the militia/3 percent/posse comitatus type western conservatives more than a year ago when it shut off all commenting on its stories, and has long decided not to seek out editorial contributions from more leftist environmentalists like Jeff St. Clair, has now also decided to kowtow to a SJW-driven group of minority outdoors lovers by letting their leader pen an op-ed screed claiming that people calling out the Instagrammers trampling on poppy blooms and other expressions of environmental concern are all racist.

No, seriously, though:
And, yes, this may well be the most ridiculous piece I've ever seen in HCN in 15-plus years of semi-regular, semi-continuous subscriber readership.

(Note: A modified version of what I had originally created as this blog post was submitted to HCN as a letter to the editor. We'll see if it runs it as is, bounces it back to be shortened or politened, or refuses to run it and never contacts me about that. Given that it hasn't responded to most Tweets when I've been critical of articles before and listed specific reasons, I am not holding my breath.)

An anti-geotagging movement is supposedly racist, in part because it's an exercise in privilege.

The "Leave no Trace" campaign is hysteria. And it's supposedly about "policing black and brown bodies" in the outdoors. And, it's allegedly misguided because traces are already left. (No duh; any good environmentalist knows that.)

And the idea that "Leave no Trace" campaigners are "out there" and while "out there," engaged in "policing black and brown bodies" is ridiculous. And, based on a misinterpretation of what the Leave no Trace Center says on this Instagram. The LNTC account says X, Y, or Z MAY happen with regular feeding of a wild bird. AND, it does NOT mention "this MAY happen ONLY if the person feeding the bird is a minority."
This is one of those areas where the Center doesn’t have an official stance. Rather, we leave it up to personal choice (as with many things Leave No Trace) as to the best decision. Again, our focus is on non-motorized recreation and how to enjoy the outdoors in a responsible way.”
Is the misinterpretation accidental or willful? I can't prove it's willful, but given the tenor of the main HCN article, it sure comes off that way.

This excellent Jezebel piece about poppy tramplers and the person running the Public Lands Hates You account says NOTHING about "casual hikers quoting rap lyrics." In fact, it doesn't mention minorities at all.

And, if you go to the Instagram account, it calls out capitalism, then the hunt for the infamous 15 minutes of fame, not people of any race.

Speaking of, here's my second tweet in a thread about this utter dreck:
The rest of the piece goes on with what seems to be continual evidence free (or even evidence refuted, as above) claims.

Is there still racism in environmentalism? Is there still racism in the Green Party as an environmental party? Yes and yes.

Does this piece and the Instragram hullabaloo document any of that related to the Instagram hullabaloo? No.

As for other things, like claims that some flower tramplers are drunken? Maybe they are/were, maybe not.

In either case, that's the only claim made. NO claim was made that they were "black drunks," or "Hispanic drunks," or anything like that.

Instead, the PLHY guy has been threatened with multiple lawsuits from Instagram influencers, as well-known environmental writer Christopher Ketchum describes, something the Melanin Base Camp folks conveniently omit.

The Ketchum piece is itself worth a thorough read, rather than MBC's attempt to trash it. In fact, I'm seeing this as being a "whose ox was gored" as much as anything.

It's no surprise that HCN, in what I see as a continuing incremental rightward drift, won't instead write more about the Instagrammer problem. And the capitalism behind it.

Meanwhile, MBC founder Danielle Williams next goes straight to Whataboutism in spades:
What they don’t say is striking. None of the articles place responsibility on Congress to increase appropriations for the Department of the Interior which faces a budget cut and a massive administrative overhaul. Nor do they ask Congress to stop weaponizing government shutdowns — which have devastated national parks like Joshua Tree in the past — to play to their political base. There is also little expectation that land management stakeholders respond to overcrowding with increased staffing, education, permit requirements, enforcement or outreach. No, the overwhelming emphasis is on keeping hikers they don’t want in, out.
Ketchum and others, PLENTY of other good environmentalists, have written about all of this, and the suggestions at the end of the HCN piece, plenty of times.

HCN printing such whataboutism is itself disgusting. 

Sorry, HCN, but that's how I feel. You've run a number of good stories about the lack of minorities in the outdoors, which have pointed out legitimate issues, and legitimate attempts to address them.

Then you run a piece that could be by, and certainly is in support of, a bunch of Instascammers (I went there) wrongly using racism accusations as an SJW tool.

And, while I know more and more than Twitter has a low call-to-response ratio, this isn't the first time that HCN has not responded to me when I've called out what I see as "framing" errors. That's another reason I'm definitely ready to let my subscription lapse and am close to asking to have it canceled now and refunded what remains.

Beyond that, the Instascammers — and arguably, HCN, per my previous call-out partially to it — don't take climate change's portion of environmentalism as seriously as it should maybe be taken. The Instascammers under cover of SJW eco-woke-ness (yes I said that) are clearly pro-capitalist. HCN has only occasionally written about the left not liberal early unionizing history of the west, and even that, mildly.


Update, May 13: A condensed version of this was submitted to HCN as a letter to the editor. Editor-in-Chief Brian Calvert has responded by saying he'll keep this in mind. Whether it runs as an actual letter or not? Stand by. With this issue being HCN's travel issue, I wasn't expecting it in there, but ... next issue?

And, answer is no.

If you don't run mine, you'd better run somebody's angry letter, and I assume you got them over that piece.

And, answer is that they ran nobody else's.

The answer now, May 27 is that this was an online-only piece, so no print letter to the editor. I've inquired about online letters to the editor; somehow I doubt HCN has even thought about that, and I also doubt that it will change its policy, or tweak its website, to make that happen.

In essence, you're saying that you'll publish whatever you want online without reader feedback. You've already turned off online commenting, and you don't have online letters to the editor.

NOT wunderbar.


And, call it an irony alert, or more likely, either unaware irony or something else. In its Heard Around the West from that issue, HCN notes a New York Times story calling out Instagrammers.

Slightly in the same vein as the Melanin folks' piece is this interview with a Berkeley prof who claims previous histories of the Transcontinental Railroad have ignored the sociological personal story of the Chinese who were part of the work. Actually, Empire Express, at least, does talk about that, as I note in my long-ago review. Although not specifically mentioned by me, Bain does talk about the Chinese strike, among other things. And, mentioning Philip Foner by name, when, although he wrote books about labor history in the era of railroad building, he did not write one specifically about the transcontinental railroad, seems a bit specious.

Anyway, on a lesser scale, like Melanin Base Camp, this seems another angle of using social justice warriordom in the service of capitalism.


Beyond THAT, said influencers are losing influence, the Wall Street Journal reports. THAT (per my suspicions) was probably behind the Melanin folks' bitching, and again, something HCN never considered.

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