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Zane Grey Sounds Off

July 28, 2010

Tim Juntti sent me a copy of Zane Grey’s 1922 rant in the Izaac Walton League’s monthly bulletin.  Interesting, thought provoking, and at times, very uncomfortable; it warrants a repeat:

VANISHING AMERICA*

by

Zane Grey

. . . My work has been wholly concerned with the beauty and wildness and nature of America, all of which are vanishing. … I see only one possibility of preserving the game and fish, and something of the natural beauty of wild places, and the purity of inland waters. And here it is. If a million outdoor men who have sons, will think of these sons, and band together to influence other men who have sons—then we may save something of America’s outdoor joys for the boys. . . .

My appeal is not to save game and fish for sportsmen. I have forgotten sportsmen. I do not care anything about saving game and fish for sportsmen. I want to save something of vanishing America. For its own sake! So that our children’s children will know what a fish looks like, and will hear the sweet call of “Bob White;” and see all the living and nesting inhabitants of our beautiful land.

We must stand powerfully and unalterably for the future sons of America. Otherwise we will fail of our opportunity. … It is a serious thing for any writer to take up his pen against so-called sportsmen, and their peculiar ways of being happy. But it is necessary that this should be done. If honest and direct appeal fails to win thoughtless and ignorant hunters and fishermen to our cause then they must be scorned and flayed and ostracized until they are ashamed of their selfishness. No such appeal, however, can touch the heart of the hardened automobiling sportsmen or the harpooning anglers or the fakirs and would-bes who want to see their pictures and names in newspapers and magazines.

Naturalists and biologists and true lovers of nature either despise or disapprove of sportsmen. There is justice in this. Something is wrong. Our heritage of outdoor pursuits is certainly a noble and splendid thing. Manly endeavor and toil and endurance makes for the progress of the race. Nature abhors weaklings. And red-blooded pursuits operate against the appalling degeneracy of modern days. Nevertheless sportsmen, as a mass, are hypocrites, and are blind to the hand-writing on the wall.

My one hope for conservation of American forests and waters is to plant into every American father these queries. Do you want to preserve something of America for your son? Do you want him to inherit some­thing of the love of outdoors that made our pioneers such great men? Do you want him to be manly, strong, truthful, and brave? Do you want him to be healthy? Do you want him, when he grows to manhood, to scorn his father and nation for permitting the wanton destruction of our forests and the depletion of our waters?

In this materialistic day it is almost impossible to get the ear of any man. W7ith all men it is the selfish zest of the battle of life. But men do love their sons, and through them perhaps can be reached before it is too late. The mighty and unquenchable spirit of a million fathers could accom­plish much.

 

Izaak Walton League Monthly—Volume I, Number 2, September, 1922

— Jim Margadant

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 19, 2010 10:12 pm

    That’s worth reading.

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