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A look back at the toxic eco-fascist legacy of Fox News' Tucker Carlson
PRESENTED BY CHROMODORIS RETICULATA
In great replacement news, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News has summarily severed eco-fascist Tucker Carlson from its lineup. It remains unclear why the race-baiting preppie was dropped, though texts revealed during the Dominion lawsuit exposed him as a Trump-hating hypocrite.
While most of Carlson’s on-air rants about global warming lazily evoked classic climate denier tropes, he often advanced the cause of white-supremacist eco-fascism, harkening back to the ideologies first espoused by Italian Futurists such as Filippo Marinetti.
Fossil-fueled global warming poses an existential threat to the power structure of conservatives backed by by fossil-fuel capital, particularly as the risks of climate change turn real for people in their everyday lives. But if you can deny the evidence of the failure of private markets, then the call for action looks like an elite power grab:
“Nothing is more effective for the left globally than climate politics. ‘It’s an existential crisis: we’re all gonna die unless you obey and make us more powerful.’”
This argument from Carlson isn’t new; Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly made this same argument on Fox and on right-wing radio fifteen years ago. However, Carlson, like Donald Trump, has aggressively attached this vaguely anti-semitic anti-globalism anti-government defense of the fossil-fuel industry to overt racism.
“Energy is civilization. … People don’t understand how threatening this is and how close we are to being under the complete and total control of people who wish us ill.”
“The entirety of this infrastructure plan looks more like a mashup of intersectional theory from Wesleyan and some kind of South African-style spoils system.”
“First and most obviously, is this really about infrastructure—bridges, roads, airports, things we can actually use—or is it yet another weird climate scheme-slash-power grab-slash-race-based redistribution plan?”
The same year, he produced a “documentary” attacking wind power.
As the environmental-justice movement has long argued, pollution-based capitalism requires a system of disposable places and disposable people, whether within our borders or without.
It is the very omnipresence of the intertwined threats of global warming and of structural racism that offers the opportunity for propagandists such as Carlson to claim conspiracy. In September 2020, as wildfires raged in California and the presidential election drew near, Carlson connected the dots:
“In the hands of Democratic politicians, climate change is like systemic racism in the sky. You can’t see it, but rest assured it’s everywhere and it’s deadly. And, like systemic racism, it is your fault.”
“Why would a climate migrant have a right to come to my country?” Carlson yelped in 2019. “Isn't crowding your country the fastest way to despoil it, to pollute it, to make it a place you wouldn't want to live?”
Using the language of pollution and contamination to dehumanize undesired classes of people is a core eco-fascist trope. Here Carlson is walking in the footsteps of the highly influential white-supremacist economist Garrett Hardin, who popularized the concepts of the “tragedy of the commons” and “lifeboat ethics” to justify ethnic nativism.1
A related conspiracy theory promoted by Carlson in recent months is that bankers are conspiring to cause the economic collapse of countries in the name of climate change:
“Everything that has happened in Ghana, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands is happening at the behest not simply of ideologues but by some of the largest financial institutions in the world…they want more of this.”
I admit to being personally impressed at the effort put into wonkish attacks on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) frameworks. That can’t be good for ratings! Of course, it is a bit confusing as to why financial institutions would want there to be economic decline. But again, it is anathema to accept that the burning of hundreds of billions of tons of oil, gas, and coal could be harmful to society, particularly white people:
As Media Matters’ Allison Fisher wrote last summer, “Carlson is pointing to places that are experiencing societal collapse and major upheavals and telling his viewers that if we transition away from fossil fuels, the U.S. is next.”
Finally: there’s no news on his on-again, off-again romance with the green M&M.
Though Carlson is out, racist anti-climate rhetoric is now a standard part of the Fox News arsenal.
I apologize for sharing so many screenshots of Tucker’s plumply florid visage. In recompense, may I offer the fantastically lovely penis-fencing nudibranch, as narrated by Sir David Attenborough:
Unfortunately, the national Democratic Party is far from capable of combatting this ideology, instead collaborating with the Republican Party to enact a harsh anti-immigrant policy even as climate disasters caused by the United States’ pollution increase. A great example on Capitol Hill is this week’s hearing on “The effects of increased migration on communities along the southern border” by the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Management, chaired by none other than Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.).