Polemics & Exchanges

On Russell Kirk’s Legacy

A person who has been ravaged by liberalism might loudly attack Scott P. Richert for his reminiscences on Russell Kirk’s noble reclamation project in Mecosta County (“Ghosts of the Midwest,” Views, February), especially if that person were a partisan of all things Native American.  The logic goes like this: Native Americans, the true Agrarians, first settled the Michigan countryside around Piety Hill.  The despoliation caused by lumber barons was a blight against the sylvan heritage of the Native Americans, not merely an assault on the idyllic lands of the white man.  Russell Kirk was a white man.  Therefore, the fruits of his revival of Mecosta County should be tendered to those original victims of industrial expansion, the Native Americans.

Whether this logic makes any sense may not unduly worry the fretful liberal, impassioned as he often is by the animus of righteous indignation and the spirit of vindication; but Mr. Richert, for the sake of history as opposed to hagiography, might have mentioned those benighted redskins, if only to put into context the continual and complex problems of development.  Development is necessarily bound up with an ongoing sequence of evolutionary events and dynamics of the sort that one sees when observing the prized wilderness.  Species thrive; environments change;...

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