Aug 01 2009

Facts not in evidence

Category: left,religion,science,societyharmonicminer @ 8:58 am

A friend of mine read my recent blog, “The Left At Christian Universities, Part 13,” and went to the website of one of the organizations that I identified as being problematic, CLUE.

On that website, she found links to this text, reporting CLUE’s activities in regard to trying to get “green truck” regulations implemented at Long Beach harbor:

We take it for granted that protectors of the environment and defenders of commerce are natural adversaries. Here in Long Beach, we are often asked to weigh the concerns of the uninsured mother of a severely asthmatic child against those of the woefully underpaid truck driver who would be deprived of his livelihood if required to purchase a greener rig.

Sameerah Siddiqui, an organizer for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA) isn’t interested in any false compromise between the two: She wants Long Beach residents to see that local poverty and pollution are inextricably linked, and to that end, she is asking city clergy to help her start a dialogue between residents and port workers, as well as city officials and port management. “We’re calling on the clergy in Long Beach to organize around this issue, and to address the dual problems of poverty and pollution,” Siddiqui says. “And we would like interfaith leaders to respond in the way that they know best.

“Religious leaders are in contact with the community on a day-to-day basis, and they see the suffering: the rising incidence of asthma among children, the respiratory illnesses of older members of the congregation. At the same time, we invite them to talk to port truck drivers, to hear their stories about not being able to make ends meet, of how the burden of maintaining their trucks is so onerous that they can’t provide for their families, and on a day-to-day basis, they themselves are exposed to the highest levels of pollution [without benefit of] medical insurance. . . . If we really want to enact green policies-holistic policies that address both the environment and worker health-we need to look at that relationship between the two.”

CLUE-LA is a major partner in the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports. The Coalition-which pushed for the port’s adoption of the Clean Trucks Program-maintains that protecting the health of Long Beach residents requires a stable trucking work force that can afford to make capital improvements. And that requires employee status for truckers and, of course, an employer. Siddiqui isn’t directly involved with labor organization, but she argues that a coherent environmental policy can’t be accomplished without cohesion between labor and environmental constituencies. Facilitating a personal understanding between the two at the ground level with the support of Long Beach’s religious communities-getting people to sit across the table from one another in church meeting halls, to share their stories-is work she feels called to as a Muslim. “This is the future of America. All of our interests are interconnected.”

My friend’s question to me was, “What do you think of this?”  I think the subtext may have been that this seems to be a public spirited group doing a good thing, and what’s wrong with that?

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