Friday, April 1, 2011

Rachel Carson: Strong Environmentalist, Despite Controversy

By Brittany Shann

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is an environmental work that not only empowered the environmental movement but caused much controversy around the very organizations that Carson was demonizing. In my opinion, the best works are the ones that cause the most controversy. Of course, there was a tremendous uproar around those whose legitimacy was threatened – the pesticide companies and the chemical industry in general. Silent Spring held these entities responsible and brought light onto what it was they did and the problems they caused.

Though a capitalist would say that Carson’s crucifixion of the chemical companies would threaten productivity and success, a believer in democracy would say it’s Carson’s right to criticize her enemies. I may or may not agree with Carson and the outcomes of Silent Spring, but the process of writing the book, publishing it, and generating a reaction is the most admirable and respectable aspect. Carson was not afraid of what would happen upon the success of her book; she just simply hoped it would garner some type of attention and potentially action among her constituents.

Additionally, Carson faced criticism with poise and composure, earning her more respect in my eyes as well as her fans’ eyes. She set herself up to be criticized and picked apart but she was prepared to counter any accusations about her credibility from the media or from the chemical companies themselves.

When someone is fearless enough to publish something that attacks the corporations that fuel our farming industry, it shows that they are devoted to their beliefs. Carson didn’t falter under pressure or criticism; in fact, she stayed true to her cause and what she believed in.

Whether or not the reader agrees with what the writer is saying is irrelevant; what’s important is the impact the writer had on the public and how the writer handled any backlash or criticism. Since Carson was successful in generating a reaction – both positive and negative – she was successful in her mission, which makes her and the book both admirable and respectable.

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