Solnit Contrasts Climate Action with White Supremacists’ ‘Ideology of Separation’
In a post for The Guardian following the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand March 15, renowned author and Oil Change International board member Rebecca Solnit says it’s no mistake that you’ll never find white supremacists involved in climate action.
What it comes down to is that “behind the urgency of climate action is the understanding that everything is connected; behind white supremacy is an ideology of separation,” she writes.
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“It’s no accident that climate denial is integral to right-wing thinking, that Republicans in the U.S. have been freaking out about the Green New Deal, that maximizing fossil fuel development and profit seems to be a cornerstone of their libertarian-capitalist ideology,” she explains. “To acknowledge that everything is connected is to acknowledge that our actions have consequences and therefore responsibilities they are unwilling to shoulder. Also that the solutions to climate change require cooperative work at all levels, from local energy transition, to national policies that stop subsidizing fossil fuels, to international agreements to set emissions goals.”
That contrasts with a right wing ideology that “now is about a libertarian machismo in the ‘I can do anything I want’ vein,” she adds. “It’s the pro-gun myth that we can each protect ourselves with a weapon, when in reality we’re all safer with them out of our societies. It’s the idea that we can deregulate the hell out of everything and everyone can just look out for themselves, whether it’s food safety or infrastructure safety or air and water quality. To kill someone you have to feel separate from them, and some violence—lynching, rape—ritualizes this separateness. Violence, too, comes out of a sort of entitlement: I have the right to hurt you, to determine your fate, to end your life. I am more important than you.”
Solnit asked 350.org Global Communications Director Hoda Baraka for comment in the wake of the March 15 climate strike—including a student protest that happened to take place not far from one of the targeted mosques—and the Christchurch massacre.
“In a world being driven by fear, we are constantly being pitted against the very things that make this world livable,” Baraka responded. “Whether it’s people being pitted against each other, even though there is no life without human connection, love and empathy. Or fear pitting us against the very planet that sustains us, even though there is no life on a dead planet. This is why fighting against climate change is the equivalent of fighting against hatred. A world that thrives is one where both people and planet are seen for their inextricable value and connectedness.” Ultimately, “our work as climate activists arises from the recognition that acts have consequences, and consequences come with responsibilities, and we are responsible for the fate of this Earth, for all living things now and in the future,” Solnit concludes. “But also from the recognition that ecological connectedness contains a deep beauty tantamount to love. Our goal as climate activists is to protect life. Those children and youth standing up for the future in Christchurch and in more than 1,700 other cities around the world were already the answer we needed.”