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Dirty Little Secret #1


The bias against alien species has its roots in xenophobic and racist attitudes


Dr. Leland Yee, in his role as a Supervisor, had the courage to bring up to the NAP proponents how uncomfortable he was with the terminology of nativism and implications this terminology might have for immigrants in San Francisco.  He also expressed concern over nativism as part of children’s school curriculum here in San Francisco.  At a Board of Supervisors meeting regarding NAP (July 11, 2002), Dr. Yee said the following:  “I think that the curriculum that I saw is also somewhat painful.  There is some reference in your curriculum where, you know, you basically ask students ‘what non-native invasive species threaten your native plant?’  And I think for, at least I can speak for the Chinese community, that is something that harkens back to the anti-Asian, anti-Chinese attitudes that unfortunately happen even in San Francisco.  Which is not to necessarily say that the native plants program or the native areas program subscribe to that, but I think that there's some sensibility that you might want to, you know, look at.” 


Dr. Yee was very astute.  The purism of biological nativism has historically been associated with fascist and apartheid cultures and governments.  Pre-World War II Germany, for example, saw the rise of a natural gardening movement ‘founded on nationalistic, and racist ideas’ (Pollan 1994).  The Nazis attempted to purify nation and nature, by eliminating people and biota that were supposedly not native.

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