The Corner

Environmentalism as a Religion

The distinction between conservationists and environmentalists that Jonah mentions in his column — conservationists as stewards of the Earth, environmentalists as worshipers of the Earth — cuts through other areas as well. For instance, supporters of the humane treatment of animals often support the same goals as the animal “rights” crowd, but there’s a fundamental difference between them — the first acknowledge an obligation (which they may or may not see as deriving from religion) to treat the lesser animals with respect, while the latter believe animals to be morally equal to human beings. Likewise with those who seek to help the deaf lead more normal lives versus those who militate for “deaf culture” and “deaf rights” — a conflict that’s been apparent in the tumult at Gallaudet University over the past several years. Something similar has happened with civil rights vs. affirmative action. In all these cases, the Left didn’t just take a traditional, humane impulse and take it to an extreme — instead, the Left changed the goal altogether, creating something different in kind from what went before.

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