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Climate Change

Published on July 31st, 2019 | by Carolyn Fortuna

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Trump’s Racist Tweets Show How Much We Need The Green New Deal — #WeAreBaltimore

July 31st, 2019 by  


I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore. I’m sick of being politely disheartened by our #fakepresident. Yes, it’s been embarrassing to have a buffoon represent the US at international summits. Sure, Trump’s professed conservatism in the face of expanded spending sends my hypocrisy meter through the proverbial roof. But it’s his horrific, overt racism that is making me stand up and say loudly, “#WeAreBaltimore!” And, in doing so, I’m declaring social justice as a sister to economic justice. We need the Green New Deal because it rights historical wrongs committed against indigenous communities and other marginalized groups as a core tenet to curb climate change.

Photo by Carolyn Fortuna, CleanTechnica (permission to use if correctly attributed)


This president is part of a larger Koch Brothers’ inspired plan to reinforce hegemonic national policies of division, alienation, and oppression, and climate action in the form of a Green New Deal could shatter years of this insidious behind-the-scenes propaganda. It’s become clear that racism, sexism, and xenophobia, which mark Trump’s worldview and legacy, are unalterably connected to his puppeteers’ fear of climate change. In a Trump-centric future, it will be the most powerful who will survive, profit, and thrive — because of a worst-case climate scenario, not in spite of it.

In the same week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before two House committees, Trump took to social media and lambasted Rep. Elijah Cummings, explicitly stating that the Democratic African American Congressperson and his majority-black district of Baltimore are a “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human” would want to live. I’d like to argue that this is exactly the kind of overt racism that the Green New Deal has the potential to overcome, with its goals to address the racial wealth gap.

#WeAreBaltimore

In a response piece, the Baltimore Sun challenged Trump’s narrative, calling out:

  • His followers who savor such racist talk, as it “warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him”
  • Trump’s failure to bring out the “classic phrases like ‘you people’ or ‘welfare queens’ or ‘crime-ridden ghettos’ or a suggestion that the congressman ‘go back’ to where he came from
  • “a president who will happily debase himself at the slightest provocation”
  • Fox & Friends, whose recent critique of Baltimore “must have been irresistible in a Pavlovian way”
  • “the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office”
  • “the mocker of war heroes”
  • “the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts”
  • “the serial bankrupter of businesses”
  • “the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin”
  • “the guy who insisted there are ‘good people’ among murderous neo-Nazis”

The scathing piece, which drew responses across the world, is likely to break the Sun’s records in readership and subscriptions.

The Green New Deal as a Mechanism to Conquer Institutionalized US Oppression

The Green New Deal — H. RES. 109 — is a plan for tackling climate change that was introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts. The resolution demands that the US federal government eliminate fossil fuels that produce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions alongside providing new high-paying jobs in clean energy industries.

It states specifically that economic justice must be fought alongside climate change.

Whereas climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction have exacerbated systemic racial, regional, social, environmental, and economic injustices (referred to in this preamble as “systemic injustices”) by disproportionately affecting indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this preamble as “frontline and vulnerable communities”)

A new proposal that keenly links climate change plans and low-income communities was released on Monday of this week. Senator Kamala Harris of California and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York unveiled legislation that extends the impact of the Green New Deal. The Climate Equity Act requires that any environmental regulation or legislation must be rated based on its impact on low-income communities, as they are the ones disproportionately affected by climate change.

The Act also creates an independent Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability, which includes a new liaison to represent vulnerable communities on climate justice at “all relevant agencies.” The New York Times points out that low-income communities are often situated in flood zones, near highways or power plants, or adjacent to polluted lands known as brownfields.

Harris is one of the Democratic candidates who appeared at this week’s Detroit debates. Trump’s racist tweets of late moved the issues of racial and economic disparities to front stage at the debates. Ocasio-Cortez has worked with various candidates on different aspects of the climate challenge.

Cecil Corbin-Mark, the director of policy initiatives for the New York City-based organization WE ACT for Environmental Justice, says, “There can’t be a solution without communities from the front lines. The days of fashioning policy and solving problems in ways that say, ‘We, mainstream green organizations or politicians in Washington, know best–’ those days are way behind us.”

Why Many of the Elite Rich See Climate Change Differently

The futurist Douglas Rushkoff spoke earlier this year about a realization he made regarding the uber rich in today’s world. They’re not preparing for a future that makes the world a better place, he came to understand.

Rather, it’s about “transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.” Rushkoff sees billionaires like these as the presumptive winners of the digital economy  — “the same survival-of-the-fittest business landscape that’s fueling most of this speculation to begin with.”

Final Thoughts

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island released a statement this week that responded to Trump’s national discourse of hatred.

“As you continue to judge and demean people by gender, country of origin, and skin color, we will take the high road. We will judge people by character and by actions alone. We will never stop speaking out against the words and actions of those driven by sexism, racism, and xenophobia.”

Chris Wallace of Fox News acknowledged that Trump’s tweets about US citizens of color follow a pattern. “Infested. It sounds like vermin. It sounds subhuman. And these are all six members of Congress who are people of color.”

Trump has vacillated between “s—hole countries” and “s—hole districts.”

Let’s not allow Trump’s racist attacks to galvanize white blue-collar voters, as so many claim. Instead of 4 more years of “s–hole” leadership, we need a US president who will protect the rights and lives of all people in the US.

And the starting point is a Green New Deal that will create new federal policies to prioritize low-income areas and communities of color.

As candidate Harris stated, “We cannot accept a status quo where children of color are drinking toxic water in Flint or breathing toxic air in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley. This systemic environmental injustice will only get worse and become more ingrained if climate and environmental policies like the Green New Deal do not specifically focus on lifting up these communities.”

Thousands of Sunrisers, young people, black and brown Detroiters, and union members rallied the Democratic debates this week, delivering a message to the candidates: If you want the support of these communities that are the heart of the Democratic Party, you need to make bringing the Green New Deal to cities like Detroit a day one priority. 
 
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About the Author

Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. She's won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. As part of her portfolio divestment, she purchased 5 shares of Tesla stock. Please follow her on Twitter and Facebook.



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