Monday, June 25, 2007

A Left-of-Center Gal in a Right-of-Center Family

Sometimes when I’m talking with my brothers and sisters, I think I might have been adopted. At a family birthday party this weekend I was teased about my “personal farmer” (Farmer Renee, who runs the organic farm we subscribed to this year) and my vegetarian book club (we eat narrowly, but read broadly). Certain members of my family find vegetables hysterically funny and politically threatening. I like the way they taste, and I think they’re good for my body. Oh well.

Later on, when Rachel Carson’s name came up, I knew we wouldn’t be discussing her groundbreaking book Silent Spring (1962). Fairly certain I was the only one in the room who had actually read the book, I wasn’t surprised to find myself arguing that Rachel Carson was not responsible for the malarial deaths of millions of Africans. And as usually happens in family conversations, nobody was backing me up! So I said I’d pass on some information to consider:

1. The history of pesticide use is a complex and difficult topic (I’m still working my way through this document). Blaming an on-going travesty on Rachel Carson is undoubtedly easier (not to mention the shock value of such statements) than understanding the long-term effects of chemicals on our environment.

2. Here’s what the EPA and CDC currently say about mosquito control, pointing to a considered, well-rounded approach (which is what Rachel Carson would have preferred).

3. Here’s the political motivation (and IMHO, it must be political since it distracts us from other bad news of the day—Why her? Why now?) for tearing down Rachel Carson, according to an interesting science blogger.

To me, Rachel Carson was a gifted writer who could explain science to the non-scientist. She gave people compelling evidence for watching and questioning the chemical industry and the government. People like that don’t come around very often. But I sure wish they would.


Mary Cremean said...

Wow! You really do your homework for this blog. I commend you! I realize this is quite trivial compared to topics like Rachel Carson and Great Lakes issues, but I am curious why you are opposed to school uniforms. I love them, especially b/c I do not have to hear, "Mom, what am I going to wear to school today?" And my girls are not pressured to buy the trend-setting fashions (some of which are sleezy and offensive). My one gripe is when the school unilaterally decides to overhaul the official uniform and I have to spend hundreds of dollars on new clothes. Now there's a conspiracy theory!

Keep up the great work ;)

Kathy said...

Thanks, Mary.

Mostly I'm against uniforms because I think they're unattractive. But part of it, too, is the feeling that uniforms are all about the parents and the school administrators (not the kids). I like to think children should learn how to dress themselves in good taste and develop an individual style (and to understand what's behind those sleezy and/or offensive trends).

Ed Darrell said...

Great summary of the case against Rachel Carson's critics. Do everyone a favor: Keep posting on the topic, and link to those blogs whose posts support Carson and sanity, especially Bug Girl ( Deltoid (

Anonymous said...

Kathy, this is really very good...I cannot believe your family did not respond!


Kathy said...

Thanks Ed, Jane -

I believe there's at least one more post in me about Rachel Carson. I'm working on it now. . . .