In an article dated August 7, 2019, GQ magazine defined ecofascism as “a belief that the only way to deal with climate change is through eugenics and the brutal suppression of migrants.” It’s a philosophy that has roots in the American environmental movement dating back to the 1800s, right down to the creation of our national parks system.
Let’s start off with the recent events that inspired me to produce this episode. On August 3rd 2019, a shooter in El Paso, Texas killed 20 people at a Walmart near the border with Mexico. Nineteen minutes before the first 911 call, a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online, that was strangely called “An Inconvenient Truth.” In the document, the author makes his horrific case for ethnic cleansing as a solution to the climate crisis. I asked myself, could the shooter’s deadly words and actions have been inspired by the rhetoric that has been spoken, and tweeted, by the 45th President of the United States, who has verbally attacked communities of color on more than one occasion.
After the El Paso tragedy, I started reading articles that referred to the term “ecofascism.” There seemed to be more than one example of racially motivated terrorist attacks in the news, from Christchurch, New Zealand, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Poway, California. But none so directly connected to the climate crisis as the El Paso shooting, which made me deeply concerned about the ways in which humans will react when the crisis worsens. Will it bring out the best in humanity? Or the worst? I began to think more deeply about the foundations of America. Post-colonial American history seems to be filled with examples of eco-fascist ideas and acts.
The American Declaration of Independence refers to indigenous people as “Merciless Indian Savages,” and yet this is still a document that Americans celebrate every year. The principles of Manifest Destiny and Eminent Domain made way for a government led genocide. Children being separated from their parents, put in detention centers, and even killed by the American government, these practices are also not a new. From the slave trade to Indian Residential Schools, American history has already set precedents. Every single day that we wake up, we are living out our lives on stolen land. This is our history. It’s history that we shouldn’t turn away from, no matter how hard it is to look at it.
I know this is a dark subject, but it’s an important one. If we don’t look directly at our shadow selves, how will we ever heal?