On Friday, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, resigned. He had been in charge of the organization for 11 years. Politico calls the resignation a “major blow to the U.S. environmental movement and the Democratic Party’s green base.”
Why did Brune quit? He didn’t say. However, he apologized “for any instance” in which staff and volunteers of the Sierra Club did not “feel safe, supported and valued.” Brune did not elaborate.
Does this mean that Brune quit due to charges that he didn’t make people “feel safe, supported and valued”? Perhaps. However, I haven’t been able to find any indication that Brune was under fire for anything like that. Andrew Cuomo, he does not appear to be.
I’m hearing that there’s more to Brune’s resignation than has been reported so far. There almost has to be.
What might that “more” be? Politico drops this passage in a section of its article called “the context.”
The Sierra Club in June called for the United States to make reparations to Black people, saying the move was needed to correct the historical wrongs that were still subjecting Black communities to disproportionately high levels of pollution and exacerbating income and health disparities.
The organization has confronted its own racist past in recent years to apologize for the stances of its founder, John Muir, who based elements of his conservation on derogatory beliefs and comments about Black and Indigenous people.
Did Brune’s embrace of BLM talking points alienate a more than insignificant portion of the Sierra Club’s donor base? As a mostly ignorant outsider, I tend to think of the portion of the environmental movement to which the Sierra Club belongs as monolithically leftist, such that its donors would be fine with a leader who calls for reparations, among other radical racialist ideas.
However, a friend who knows his way around this movement tells me that a lot of environmentalists, especially older ones, aren’t fans of BLM. They don’t view it as disparagingly as I do, but neither do they buy much of its line. And they resent seeing its demands injected into the environmental movement.
According to my friend, some of his liberal environmentalist pals reacted to Brune’s call for reparations by fuming “why won’t the Sierra club stay in its lane?”
So maybe adverse reaction to Brune’s racial radicalism has something to do with his resignation. This is just speculation, though. Perhaps Steve, who certainly knows his way around the movement, can provide a more informed opinion.
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