Vice Magazine: Green Baiting the Climate Justice Movement

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by Ivy / Earth First! News

When I was growing up in the 1980s, the term “red bating” had just started to fade into the tapestry of US history. The Red Scare is best known as the period of time during which Senator McCarthy announced that he had lists full of hundreds of members of communists in the State Department, but it dates back at least to 1948—and a lesser known Red Scare that occurred during the early 1900s. What is consistent about big political frenzies like Red Scares, which Arthur Miller famously compared to witch hunts? They play off of people’s fears in order to force their compliance with a standard or norm that relies on not only political, but strict social regulation. Vice’s most recent piece by author Mike Lee Pearl is an outstanding example of this form of regulation, or what we might today term, “green bating.”

It would help to begin with some clear details about the logical fallacies as well as journalistic fraudulence of Pearl’s article, which bears the deliberately boring, facile title, “The Villain from ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Shares a Name with a Real Environmental Group.” Point 1: the article is not about what the title suggests; it is not an investigation into the fact that the names are similar, rather it is an ostentatious attack on Rising Tide North America disguised as a legitimate report. Point 2, the author suggests that we have a coincidence here; in this case, the author might have given the article a title that indicates this underlying premise or bias, instead of passing off the perspective of activists in the US as outright bullshit.

Here is where the charlatanism masquerading as journalism really gets nasty. The author insists that Rising Tide North America (RT) takes the purported coincidence without any humor or grace. This might be understandable, if one totally ignores the problem that many of RT’s activists have been spied on by the government, according to government-released documents. Couple that with the fact that the group Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is basically a superhero equivalent to the NSA, which has been spying on not only RT activists, but international politicians and diplomats, along with generally the US populous, and you should have something more to write about than RT’s lack of humor regarding the situation.

Let’s think for example of the article published in Vice recently entitled, “Yes, the NSA Can Spy on Every US Citizen.” Or, what about the article, “Sorry, NSA, Terrorists Don’t Use Verizon. Or Skype. Or Gmail”? Is it not highly problematic that Vice has published articles outraged at the government’s spying program, and then attacked activists for being outraged that a new television series is actually celebrating these sorts of programs (and using their name, coincidence or no coincidence, as a target)?

Pearl, goes on to not only celebrate the protagonists of government spying, but belittle climate change activists in general. Climate change, says Pearl, “a slow, slow monster that probably won’t start killing us in impressive numbers for a hundred years.” Aside from the ubiquitous consensus among world leaders that climate change is an immediate problem (even with the admission of Obama, himself), we can also look at the Horn of Africa and the Sahel Valley, where climate change induced droughts have caused wars, famines, and killed thousands. Why not check out Christian Parenti’s Tropic of Chaos, which shines an important light on the deadly crises created by droughts throughout Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent? Hell, why not check out Vice’s own website, and the article entitled, “How Climate Change Warmed Syria Up for War.” Or was Pearl strictly speaking about climate change not hurting anyone in the US for 100 years? Because we can also look at the article published on Vice entitled, “The Media Finally Gets It: There’s a Link Between Sandy and Climate Change.” What kind of a publication vets important information about the immediate dangers of climate change—until it really matters and activists are being attacked.

The most impressive fact is that Pearl calls himself an environmentalist, insisting that “[e]nvironmentalists (myself included) need to cop to the fact that waving signs and buying hybrids isn’t cooler than a superhero. It sucks actually, but we just have to do it anyway.” Is buying hybrids really a way out of climate change? Not according to other views that Vice has published. For instance, there is Derrick Mead’s article, which begins auspiciously, “Forget CFLs, hybrid cars, and organic jeans. Buying our way out of climate change — even if it’s green consumption — won’t get us far. We’ve got around seven billion people on Earth, more than double the population just 50 years ago, and that number keeps rising. Electricity and transportation aside, we humans collectively eat and drink a lot, and producing all of that food and water has a major impact on the climate.” But then Mead jumps off the deep end, insisting that we could use “pharmacological behavior modification to create an aversion to meat in people, to using gene therapy to create smaller, less resource-intensive children.” Thanks for that one, Vice Magazine, for reminding us of the irony that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., aside from running a domestic spying operation, are actually genetically modified to be übermensch. So when the pieces start to fit together, we know whose side Vice is on—for all their talk about climate change and NSA spy scandals, Vice Magazine is nothing but a technofascist rag that gets off on throwing climate activists to the wolves.

Vice’s other grand schemes for ending climate change? There is a hilarious article they published a while ago listing 10 cities around the world that have done things to stop the bleeding: for instance, NYC bioremediating the banks of the East River. Salvation at last! If you haven’t bought your hybrids, I hope you are getting busy throwing seeds into your local superfund site, because all we need is mutant strains of vegetation growing outside of, Love Canal or Hanford Nuclear Waste Dump, to begin the genetic modification process that will make us all into climate saving and activist destroying übermensch!

In the meantime, fuck Vice Magazine.

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