Tucker Carlson has never been one to shy away from using extremist or even white-nationalist talking points, as he demonstrated recently while rolling out the right’s latest rhetorical vehicle for leveraging the surge in asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border as a weapon to attack the Biden administration: The crowding at the border is a threat to the environment!
It’s a claim Carlson has used before, but then, so have many others—notably, organized anti-immigrant hate groups, white nationalists, and the far-right “eco-fascist” movement. Again, that’s never stopped Carlson from regurgitating their non-factual garbage.
On his March 9 show, Carlson attacked Biden’s border policies by claiming that Democrats just want to let all these immigrants into the country in order to gain voters. And in the meantime, they’re degrading the environment in places like southern Texas:
It doesn't really matter what effect it has on the country. It doesn’t really matter what more crowding does to the natural environment. We have about 100 million more people living in the United States now than we had 30 years ago. What does that do to the environment? No one cares. Who does it hurt? They don't care.
This is a recurring theme for Carlson. Back in November 2019, Carlson opined that immigrants were making America a grubby, unpleasant place:
[I]f you cared about the environment, which I personally do, emphatically care—I actually go outside once in a while unlike most people on the left—why would you want a crowded country? Isn’t crowding your country the fastest way to despoil it, to pollute it, to make it, you know, a place you wouldn’t want to live?
A few weeks later, in an interview, he falsely claimed that immigrants were dirtying up the Potomac River: "It has gotten dirtier and dirtier and dirtier and dirtier," he said. "I go down there, and that litter is left almost exclusively by immigrants."
Over the past 30 years, the population of the United States has exploded by nearly 100 million people, mostly due to immigration. Were you even aware that that happened? This is becoming a crowded country, and crowded countries are ugly, unhappy countries. Why are we letting that happen?
As Sam Seder observed on his Majority Report radio show, this rhetoric echoes the same arguments made by the eco-fascist movement—who blame immigrants and Third World nations for environmental degradation and climate change, and adopt a nihilistic “accelerationist” solution based ultimately on genocide. “He is walking right up to the line if not crossing it, with his eco-fascism,” Seder commented. “I mean, when he starts talking about how ‘we don’t have the room for these people in this country because we have resources and it’s hurting our environment,’ he is now like that El Paso shooter,” he added.
This same rhetoric has been essential to the gradual creep of eco-fascism into the mainstream because it cloaks itself in ostensibly liberal-leaning concerns—a clean environment, quality of living conditions, good public health. And this creep, as a report out this week from the UK organization Hope Not Hate (HNH)—titled “From Climate Denial to Blood and Soil”—explores in detail, is a phenomenon that’s happening globally, particularly in Europe.
“This is something that’s happening internationally,” HNH researcher David Lawrence told The Independent. “Across Europe, for example, lots of the right wing populist parties are adopting environmental causes as in the [United] States.”
The HNH report describes how eco-fascist groups successfully disguise themselves with seemingly generic environmentalist or communitarian labels that don’t immediately reveal their underlying far-right agendas. One such group calls itself “Local Matters” (LM), describing its activism as “agitating for radical, cross-spectrum policies for an environmentalist, regionalist, direct-democratic England,” while encouraging homegrown vegetable gardening and railing against corporate carbon pollution, as well as other environmental issues.
This is only a façade, however:
Beneath this inoffensive green sheen, however, lies something nastier. LM is spearheaded by former members of Generation Identity, a European far-right network that promotes “identitarianism”, a form of racial segregation. In an email obtained by the anti-fascist group Red Flare and published by Vice, co-founder Charlie Shaw describes LM as “a political project with a softer face […] The ideas are certainly identitarian, but it’s [sic] presentation removes any interest that a group like Hope Not Hate or Antifa might have.”
Like all eco-fascist groups, LM blames overpopulation in the UK, fueled by immigration, for a decline in ecological health. Its solution: “Comprehensively put a stop to immigration in its entirety.”
LM is only one of a number of such organizations whose agenda is a front for eco-fascist ideology, some of whom have even taken to falsely presenting themselves in the guise of such established left-wing environmental movement entities as Extinction Rebellion. These groups, HNH found, are operating not just throughout Europe, but also enjoy rhetorical support from populist right-wing groups such as Nigel Farage’s Reform UK and the UK Independence Party (UKIP)—whose manifesto reads: “The most significant threat to the Green Belt, and the UK environment in general, especially England, is unsustained population growth, which is predominantly fuelled by uncontrolled mass migration”—as well as such traditional far-right groups as the British National Party.
As Lawrence explained to the Independent, these movements are poised to take advantage of real-world crises as climate change and other environmental disasters manifest themselves.
“If you take the long view, as we see more extreme weather, extreme politics will come as a natural result of that,” he said. “We’re facing devastating effects on both the world’s poorest people but also on wealthy nations and there’ll be a volatile social situation, potentially destabilizing economies and unemployment. Of course this will be something that the far right will seek to capitalise on.”
He added: “Anti-racism has to be woven into environmental action. This is the vital cause of our time, and we have to be very vigilant to combat the spread of divisive and hateful movements, stopping them co-opting those issues for their own ends.”
The eco-fascists’ agenda melds neatly with the populist right’s “instinctive distrust of established authorities and official narratives” which fuels conspiratorial thinking and coincides with the radical right’s deep hostility toward left-wing positions, the HNH report explains. So mainstream or liberal environmental efforts combating climate change wind up being portrayed as a “globalist” scam by the left, part of a larger, more nefarious scheme to enslave ordinary people.
For instance, the UKIP splinter group For Britain claims: “The Far Left are extremely keen on the Climate Narrative, as part of the agenda is dismantling capitalism and wealth redistribution. As we have seen with the Black Lives Matter movement, it is foolish to take the narrative at face value, particularly when a cause is hijacked by Marxists and Communists.”
“The blaming of immigration for overpopulation, and therefore environmental destruction, is near-ubiquitous across radical and far-right groups that delve into green issues,” the report observes.
A report published last month by the Center for American Progress (CAP) explored how far-right extremists increasingly are blaming immigrants for environmental problems in the United States as their latest attempt in a long line of such attempts, some of them dating back more than a century and buried in the legacy of early conservationist activism, others reflecting more recent ongoing efforts by white nationalists to exploit what they believe is “common ground.”
“While their scientifically meritless arguments are no longer welcome within the mainstream environmental movement, they continue to fuel the vitriol—and bad policy decisions, including draconian cuts to immigration levels, the evisceration of the U.S. refugee asylum systems, and the separation of families at the border—that hurt legitimate, effective solutions to the conservation and climate crisis,” report observed.
One of the more pernicious aspects of eco-fascist-friendly populism is that it’s built on misinformation, deliberate smears, and a bedrock of flawed assumptions. These include the misconception that the U.S.’s environmental health exists in isolation from the rest of the world—something that the climate-change crisis Americans face in 2021 manifestly belies.
More importantly, it’s a hollow diversionary distraction that allows the corporate and political interests responsible for the real problem—namely, unregulated development and overconsumption—off the hook. “Per capita, the United States has a greater rate of climate emissions, air pollution, and nature destruction than most other countries and is an outlier even among countries with similar standards of living,” the report observes. “Policies aimed at limiting corporate capture and protecting public health—not curtailing immigration—are the solutions to these problems.”
Indeed, one of the deep ironies around the right’s growing “concern” for the environmental health of the southern border region is that one of the most devastating manmade environmental disasters in that region of the recent past has been the construction of the border wall, promoted by Donald Trump at the behest of his nativist base. As the CAP report observes:
One of the most dramatic examples of how greenwashed nativism can harm the planet is the Trump administration’s U.S.-Mexico border wall. Its construction was not only regarded as ineffective and wasteful but has also caused immense damage to the environment, including by blasting mountains, destroying ancient cactus, desecrating sacred sites of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and disrupting the migration routes and survival of nearly 100 already imperiled species ranging from jaguars to monarch butterflies. Notably, the Trump administration’s extensive use of waivers to circumvent environmental standards and regulations allowed the federal government to destroy these lands with impunity in the name of immigration control.
As Gabe Ortiz reported last year, the environmental damage inflicted by the wall’s construction is, in the views of regional activists, “incalculable.”
”Saguaro cactuses, some nearly a century old, in shards on the desert floor,” Laiken Jordahl of the Center for Biological Diversity wroter for the New York Times. “Jaguars, lost, because a metal wall has blocked their migratory path. Endangered species homeless because their critical habitats have been destroyed. Living and working along the U.S.-Mexico border means watching the surreal, slow-motion leveling of the wild and fragile ecosystems I’ve spent my career fighting to protect.”
All of which, as Ortiz reports, has fueled an effort by a coalition of 70 indigenous-rights, wildlife, and civil-rights groups to have Trump’s wall removed posthaste. The Biden administration has paused all construction work as it reviews its legal options.
Tucker Carlson, of course, thought the border wall was a terrific idea. In fact, he hosted a segment in 2019 touting the wall as environmentally beneficial—because, you see, it would stop would-be border crossers from grubbing up the desert landscape, “damaging fragile ecosystems.”
“That’s been known for a long time,” Carlson told his guest, then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. “If you cared about the environment, you would care about that, and yet anyone who raises alarms is called names. We don’t care because we care about the environment and this country.”
“Well, the reality is that common sense says that when you have tremendous trafficking, trails, trash, debris and fires, you have a lot of damage to native vegetation, wildlife, and to the ecosystem,” said Bernhardt.
“Spewing trash, debris, and fires,” Carlson added. “So we are not allowed to be concerned about that. But if you care about the environment, that would be a concern, correct?”
Carlson, as far as we can find, never discussed, or expressed any concern for, the damage wreaked by the wall’s construction itself.
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.