Anti-rational racists

 

In his essay “The road to ecofascism” (April 2020), Brian Calvert is right about the Nazis’ perversion of environmentalism; their mystical feelings for the land did indeed add to a “romantic populism” that led in the “dark direction” of racism.  But we need not worry about American environmentalists going in that direction; they care about the whole world, not just the USA.

Al Gore’s association of environmentalism with our national character is a rational and healthy appreciation, even if it’s overly optimistic.  The danger in pre-World War II Germany was an irrational, ethnocentric assumption, so easily felt, that fed into that nation’s version of national exceptionalism.  Gore’s vision sets a high standard without denigrating other countries.

“Cactus Ed” Abbey, as Calvert implies, took pride in his political incorrectness, which unfortunately allowed his racism, misogyny and elitism to mar his otherwise stellar environmental stance. His libertarian side would never have let him become fascist, eco- or otherwise. Nor do I see any signs that Abbey’s fans are racist (though they may be somewhat elitist).

I simply don’t see modern American environmentalists heading toward ecofascism. On the contrary, the current populist movement is irrationally anti-environmental and racist. Donald Trump is proud to be a developer, his administration is chipping away at environmental safeguards, and his supporters have remarkably narrow vision. They are the danger. Environmentalists these days are rational, humanistic and worldly, and are trying to lead in the direction of the light.

—John Watson-Jones, via email

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