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El nazimo exaltó la naturaleza relacionada con la pureza racial. Photo: Alamy
The Nazis exalted the nature related to racial purity. Photo: Alamy

The danger of eco-fascism for Latinos and other ethnicities in times of coronavirus

Right-wing extremists are using environmentalism to spread xenophobic and anti-immigrant discourse. Is it catching on in the United States?

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Last Monday, a group of counterterrorism experts published an article on the website, HS Today, about the rise of a presumed eco-fascist group known as the Pine Tree Party, whose rhetoric, according to researchers, was inciting violent and anti-immigrant action. 

For some time now, we have heard talk of eco-fascism, a movement that defends the preservation of nature over human life and, in fact, points to overpopulation as the greatest ecological problem and advocates a return to the "natural order."

Traditionally, it has been the left that has had environmentalism as the central axis of its political programs, but for the last few years and amid the coronavirus pandemic, which brought photos — some false — of the return of animals to cities and the decrease in pollution because of quarantine, the ultra-right has begun to embrace the "green" ideology. 

It's a maneuver that not only aims to shore up their anti-immigrant discourse, but also create chaos and, as New Statement journalist Sarah Manavis suggests, to extend the so-called "Overton window" through social media, which basically equates to the ideas that voters and political class consider acceptable.

"Many trolls, 4 Channers and alt-right ideologues are primarily concerned with changing the 'Overton window' and making the intolerable worth discussing," she says. In this bag of the 'intolerable,' what is outside the window, are radical ideas related to Nazism and racial segregation. 

Their tactics, in many cases, have been annoying but not very effective. Like last March, when an ultra-right-wing group used the logo of the environmental organization, Extinction Rebellion (XR), to spread stickers that read: "The coronavirus is the cure, humans are the disease across the Internet and even the streets of the United Kingdom, provoking general indignation because it seemed incredible that a group fighting against climate change would not take into account the countless deaths caused by COVID-19.

Despite the truth being discovered later, the confusion and strange familiarity of the message makes one think, especially with the flood of memes of all kinds — although often ironic — that praise the virus as a sort of "mop" of the worst scourges of humanity.

But, beware, behind it are not only clean skies and a visible capitalist system that does not work, but the countless deaths of people who work in extremely vulnerable places or don't have access to health insurance and who are, see the statistics, people from ethnic minorities. 

While not everyone who radically defends nature has ethnic cleansing or eco-fascist assumptions in mind, it was only a little more than a year ago that the El Paso massacre of Aug. 3 revealed the shooter did have it in mind.

That is what is stated in a manifesto that circulated after the mass murder and that police attributed to the gunman, Patrick Crusius, whose intention was to stop "the Hispanic invasion of Texas." In the manifesto, titled An Inconvenient Truth — a nod to Al Gore's 2009 documentary — the alleged writer points out that people in the United States are "too stubborn" to change their lifestyles and that, therefore, the number of people had to be reduced so that "our lifestyle could be more sustainable." 

The document also put forward other ecological arguments, and is believed to have been inspired by another massacre four months earlier, that of Christchurch in New Zealand, which also had a manifesto with an author that defines himself as an "eco-fascist."

But one can still go further. Or rather, further up. When the denial of climate change has become a bad joke, the political discourse of the extreme right in positions of power has taken a turn that some claim is "eco-fascist." This was warned by activist and writer Naomi Klein in On Fire: The (Burning) Case For a Green New Deal, but is also pointed out by numerous political science experts. 

Proof of this is that parties such as the French National Rally (RN) of Marine Le Pen proclaim it should be the "first ecological civilization" in the world, or that the individual "is not simply a consumer or producer" but "someone with roots who wants to live in his land" and that those who are "nomads, do not care about the environment; they have no homeland."

Machiavelli said the end justified the means, but sometimes the apparently white — or green — arguments are the means to an end that is hidden from us, unless we make the effort to read the small print.

We are living an ecological crisis, but it is not the only crisis in which we are involved. 
 

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