5 Activist Movements Worth a Closer Look

Conscientious Objectors: Until after World War 2, Americans could only conscientiously object to military service on a religious basis. I would research the rhetoric that allowed for the transition to secular objection.

Homophobia in Poland: Research the rhetoric used in protest of homophobia, e.g. the repeated burning of the Warsaw rainbow (a gay pride symbol in Poland.)

Abortion in Poland: Research the rhetoric used to protest the proposed sweeping ban on abortion.

Fossil Fuel Stanford: Research the rhetoric used by FFS to encourage the Stanford Management Company to divest from fossil fuels. Research analogous arguments elsewhere and determine the validity of arguments with this structure.

Pebble Mine: The Pebble prospect is a stretch of land in Alaska containing North America’s largest un-mined gold and copper reserves. Mining would have a variety of positive effects, including job creation, increased local economic activity, and increased state tax revenue. However, the prospect is located next to wetlands that connect to one of the largest remaining salmon runs in Alaska. Mining requires the creation of huge amounts of acidic wastewater, which would have to be stored in a pit. Were this pit to leak, it would cause large amounts of damage to the nearby salmon run. Many activists, with good reason, argue that the potential damage to the salmon population and its resulting effect on the ecosystem are far too large a risk to allow mining to begin. Other activists also argue that it would destroy the way of life of fishermen and Native American descendants who rely on salmon for their livelihood.

I will hone in on this second argument, analyzing its rhetoric, and then trying to determine its validity. While obviously there is no merit in anyone losing their livelihood, this second argument seems to conflict with Jordan’s statement that activism must be forward-looking. I would also take a closer look at Jordan’s argument claiming “all differences are mere differences” (141). If it can be determined that not all differences are equally different in the context of activism, than this argument could hold.

The outcome of the battle for the Pebble prospect is likely to have huge implications, and thus debate is well-known to Alaskans. The project would also be timely because the project seems fairly likely to advance with the implementation of a new EPA director. Connections could also be made to other Native American activist movements seeking to protect the environment, such as the NDPL.


2 thoughts on “5 Activist Movements Worth a Closer Look”

  1. This is really interesting; I hadn’t heard about the Pebble mine situation before. One concept you could possibly bring into your analysis is moral philosopher John Rawl’s Difference Principle, which is part of his theory of justice. The difference principle argues that for the unequal distribution of a burden among members of a group to be distributively just, two conditions must be satisfied: (1) everyone bears some part of burden to some degree under the distribution and (2) those currently worst off are burdened or disadvantaged least under the distribution.
    Given this lens, it seems mining the Pebble prospect would burden fishermen and Native American descendants – socioeconomically likely among the “worst-off” – most, and thus violate both conditions of the Difference Principle. While Rawl’s Difference Principle isn’t universally accepted by any means, Rawl’s work is highly respected and the Difference Principle well-known, so it could possibly be an interesting perspective to throw into your analysis.


  2. Perhaps there has not been enough data researched in disrupting wetland ecosystem. Often the far-reaching extent in which an ecosystem is injured is not realized until the damage is already done. This cascade effect will likely not only negatively impact the salmon in the river, but also affect all the other species interconnected in the ecosystem, inside and outside the river. In order to truly grasp the severity of harming the environment, extensive research should be conducted so that an informed decision can be formed. The beautiful thing about a natural ecosystem is its self-sufficiency and renewability. Even in an economic sense, the products of the environment are priceless because the resources are constantly renewed. Since renewability is the future of our world, wouldn’t it make sense that the preservation of these Alaskan wetlands is in fact the most” forward-thinking” solution?


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