The revolt of the progressives: a third world look at the American climate movement
When some progressive groups can post statements of solidarity on Palestine online, but cannot take to the streets for Palestine, they lose their credibility
Last Friday, 60 young climate activists from the Sunrise movement demonstrated in front of the White House. the direct action was quite soft compared to other Sunrise actions. The event was precipitated by President Joe Biden’s announcement that he reduce commitments for climate spending.
Now compare that to the national march for Palestine a week before Memorial Day weekend when 35,000 protesters showed up in DC from across the country. Not a single major media outlet covered the event.
The visibility of Sunrise brings gradual gravity. So when Sunrise is absent from international solidarity movements, his absence leaves the march organizers and Palestinian rights activists berating the Gen Z and Gen Y climate movement which is supposed to center the voices of color.
Sunrise’s national leadership and its local DC hub ignore the intersectionality of the climate movement when they don’t show up. Again and again Sunrise seeks to center the voices of young Americans of color, but being black and brown and young and awake does not shield from US imperialist ambitions in the form of climate hegemony.
Last month’s protests for Palestine were part of a tectonic moment of international solidarity.
The Climate Civilian Corps that the Sunrise movement currently touts is just another political puzzle in the arsenal of climate policy. Sunrise movement The 400 mile hike is meant to gain support for a Civilian Climate Corps and a Green New Deal. It is also a media stunt to promote the Sunrise brand.
Meanwhile, unfunded and underfunded anti-war organizations don’t have the benefit of protecting white spaces, which is essentially what climate activism does with the exception of native water protectors protesting against oil pipelines contaminate their land. Sunrise talks widely about jobs and has learned to present its messages to appeal to an audience that rarely challenges the Pentagon as the biggest consumer of oil and the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Speaking with anti-war messaging can dilute the message and hurt Sunrise’s perceived brand. So he walks cautiously. Yet it is precisely for this reason that 60 young activists fighting to protect the environment of white spaces receive more media attention than 35,000 Palestinian rights protesters and 100 buses in Washington.
The climate movement must look inside and see the history and legacy of colonialism and slavery that led to the climate crisis, including his own erasure of third world voices and people of color. Sunrise cannot be pro-climate without being fiercely anti-war. Where will all this money for the Climate Corps come from? The most likely place would be the military budget, which needs to be cut – hook, line and sinker. Otherwise, advocacy for climate change is nothing but middle-class idealism against the backdrop of death, devastation and exploitation of natural resources in the Third World.
Playing nice is only a plea for the climate so far. President Biden reneged on half of his promises to appease right-wing Republicans who will sabotage him anyway. We need to remind President Biden where his base is and support those who got him elected, instead of making failed attempts at compromise and negotiation with Republican climate deniers.
The fact that Sunrise DC Hub members show up as individuals at protests in Palestine rather than with the weight of their organization undermines the anti-war movement. If the Sunrise movement and other progressive organizations, including America’s Democratic Socialists and Justice Democrats, cannot speak out against the war machine in the streets, their words are pie in the sky white solidarity.
Even when 140 progressive groups speaking out on Palestine, not all are lending their hand to actually do coalition building, grassroots organization and media campaigns to support full Palestinian solidarity.
We’ve reached out to Sunrise Movement, DSA, and other major progressive groups to endorse the National March for Palestine, and I’m still waiting. These large, progressive organizations can issue statements of solidarity until the methane-emitting cows come home, but let’s put that into perspective. do not forget that each cow in Europe receives an average of $ 2.20 in subsidy per day. This amount is more than the income of half of the world’s population. Apparently, it is better to be a cow in Europe than a poor person in an economically developing country. More … than one million people live before the poverty line in Gaza.
Climate groups and other progressive groups suffer from myopia on global anti-war activism. The model of fossil fuel extraction depends on the inability of popular movements to make the connection between militarism, climate catastrophe, development challenges, energy apartheid and environmental justice.
Environmentalists are calling for better food labels when people are starving.
Sunrise and other progressive groups need to take it to the next level.
When Anthony Lorenzo Green, a main organizer of BLM DC, showed up at the National March for Palestine, he said he was not an ally, but a comrade.
Climate change must be more than an excuse to wake up. Climate change activism must be a key part of demilitarization. Progressives need to go deeper into painting more than the environment, wages, and health care. The pride of youth and the generosity of organizations can fade. Third World liberation voices are hampered and demonized, so they must rely on white and middle class progressives to provide this camaraderie.
Progressives cannot just update politics, but they must dismantle the entire system that denies black and brown voices the right to vote, not only at home, but also abroad. They must recognize the privilege of citizenship and see that not only their zip code, but also their passport and American exceptionalism have an impact on their activism.
How can organizations oppose the extraction of fossil fuels, but remain silent with ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and other oil and gas companies displacing Third World people from their homes? How can organizations demand an end to fossil fuel subsidies when the deployment of renewables will rely on rare earth minerals with mining techniques in third world countries? (So what’s the answer – give an answer, otherwise it fuels Chevron’s argument that we have to rely on fossil fuels.)
Now is the time to take stock.
As anti-war activists, we did not enjoy a honeymoon with President Biden. There had been no courtship, no exchange of vows, none of that. As anti-war activists, we mobilized our respective communities, Muslims and Progressives, nationally for the Biden Harris campaign, because the opportunity costs of another four years of Trump’s presidency were too costly, too gruesome. . So where are we? Instead of the Trump administration stifling the human rights of our brothers and sisters, we have the Biden administration trampling our human dignity in the war zones – Yemen, Gaza – funded by our taxes.
President Biden is proposing a record military budget of $ 753 billion with billions for new nuclear weapons to escalate the arms race and make the world less secure. The Biden administration is pivoting to Asia to prepare to plunge us into yet another disastrous war.
We still have battlegrounds in third world countries, but at least the president is not a climate denier.
Save the climate gibberish and demand an end to the war machine our government funds in the name of peace and oil. The American climate movement must express its solidarity with the international anti-war and anti-colonial movement.
Sunrise, no compromises, no excuses.
Nadia B. Ahmad and Corrine Daly