The white man charged with killing 22 people in El Paso on Saturday is believed to be the author of a racist “manifesto” posted shortly before the shooting rampage. The hate-filled screed described a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and warned that white Americans are being “replaced” by foreigners. The manifesto also sounded a growing theme in far-right rhetoric: that nonwhite people are responsible for environmental problems ranging from litter to climate change. Although the manifesto didn’t explicitly refer to climate change, its author titled the four-page document “The Inconvenient Truth,” seemingly a reference to Al Gore’s campaign to raise awareness about global warming.
The forced marriage of white supremacy and environmentalism is not new (Adolf Hitler, for one, advocated both racial and environmental purity), but once again it is birthing ugly “solutions,” from shunning refugees to ethnic cleansing. Even those on the far right who don’t “believe” in climate change are happy to jump on the environmental bandwagon. As the far-right author and media pundit Ann Coulter tweeted last year, “I’m fine with pretending to believe in global warming if we can save our language, culture & borders.”
In an article about white nationalists discovering the environment, The Atlantic explains the manifesto writer’s mentality:
The American lifestyle is destroying the environment, the author declares. But the answer is not to ask native-born white Americans to change their ways. It is to rid the country of Latinos.
It is not brown-skinned immigrants who are primarily responsible for environmental degradation, though. In fact, climate change and other environmental crises are driving migration, not the other way around. As The Atlantic reminds readers, “Large corporations and the wealthy consume the most environmental resources, not poor immigrants.”
Population growth is, of course, contributing to climate change, along with rising affluence and per-capita consumption. But rather than tackling any of these issues, the manifesto’s author proposes genocide: “If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.”
Environmentalism, particularly climate change, has traditionally been a concern of liberals. But in the United States and Europe, some on the far right are merging environmental issues with nationalism, a blend dubbed “eco-fascism.” Writing in The Nation, Jeet Heer describes how eco-fascism may find a toehold in US politics:
This combination of a white nationalism with angst about the prospects for human survival is a perfect recipe for radicalizing young right-wingers and taking Trumpian themes to a new level of extremism. Instead of the merely restorationist day-dream of “making American great again,” the extreme right is using social media agitprop and the propaganda of the deed to harden young white Americans for a global race war fought over diminishing resources. The very real dangers of climate change provide race war fantasists the dystopian background they need to give urgency to their violent agenda.
While left-leaning environmentalists have become increasing tolerant of immigration, The Atlantic notes that “opposition to immigration plays an ever-greater role in defining the conservative movement.” Among registered Republican voters, immigration is viewed as the country’s most important problem. A growing number of young Republicans, however, view climate change as a top priority. Eco-fascists want to connect those dots.