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Pushed to extremes: the human cost of climate change
October 13, 2017
Across the Western world, many democracies recently faced turbulent election cycles, which saw increasing prominence of far right nationalist groups that were previously relegated to the fringe of social and political thought. Though each respective group supported a fervent nationalist agenda that promoted isolationist policies such as the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union or the Trump Administration’s promise to ban certain refugees and build a wall on the southern border, they also embraced a similar ideology. That ideology used the foreign nationalist, migrant worker, and above all the refugee, as the scapegoat for economic depression, weakened infrastructure, unstable job markets, and threats on national security. A new form of false patriotism has emerged in which anything and anyone perceived as a foreign entity is to be rejected or expelled. As a result, racism, ethnocentrism, and unabated xenophobia has taken center stage in national dialogues about what and who constitute American identity.
In the United States alone, undocumented immigrants, Muslims, refugees, foreign nationals, and Latinx groups have all found themselves on the receiving end of this hate and fear mongering. However, a parallel and equally disturbing trend is happening ecologically in the US, with the rejection of climate change science and the withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Though climate change may at first appear to be a separate issue from the xenophobia and anti-refugee mindset, they are more inextricably tied to one another than we are led to believe.
If one examines the Trump campaign and current agenda specifically, two hallmark issues have always stood out as emblematic of the image of what and whom they represent: banning refugee resettlement and total rejection of climate change policies. For supporters of Trump, both were to be scorned as they served as external threats to their perceived American cultural identity and national sovereignty. An identity that is overwhelmingly white and set apart from the multicultural populations of immigrants and refugees, who would have been afforded certain protections by “the globalists” like Hillary Clinton. Refugee resettlement as a whole falls under the auspice of the United Nations, which supersedes the bounds of individual nation states. Climate change agreements like the Paris Accord are similar in structure in that they convene in foreign nations, represent a globalist mentality, and hold individual nation states responsible to carry out international laws. Trump’s repeated mantra “I’m for Pittsburgh not Paris” encapsulates more than just the Paris Accord itself-it became an idiom for patriotism. Refugee resettlement and climate change were slowly and meticulously merged into one looming globalist threat on the very stability and identity of the United States itself.