|Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, 2015|
To the editor:
It’s telling that the vote in the UK to leave the European Union is followed by calls for referenda elsewhere by nationalist, unfailingly far-right parties like France's National Front. Like our own "America First" pathology incarnated as Donald Trump, these “movements” pretend to be populist uprisings in defense of the working classes, but are in fact opportunistic exploitations of racist and xenophobic hornswaggle that, wrapped in the flag, suckers folks into voting not only against their own best interests but for a world that better resembles Game of Thrones than anything we’d want to leave to our kids.
Then again, it’s not the Trumpster’s kids who’ll get their legs blown off in the next war—it’s yours.
In the face of unprecedented human migration, 65.3 million women, men, and children in 2015, decisions like BREXIT and the emergence of the ugly face of nationalist bigotry in the U.S., make it clear that the geopolitics of the planet are driven not by thoughtful deliberation, but by exploitable fear.
To think that closing borders and building walls will protect us from terrorism is daft. Indeed, quite the opposite is likely to be true in virtue of the fact that a world characterized by divided and competing fiefdoms, turf devoted only to their own version of “My country right or wrong!” is a world made very brittle by its own arrogant medieval territorialism.
The tremendous and sad irony of BREXIT, Trumpster-mania, and all forms of xenophobia is that none will have the slightest mitigating effect on the threat that endangers human life, indeed, all life, the most: climate change. We wring our hands over ISIS, all the while failing to see its biggest driver isn’t the religion that smug born-agains like Mr. Trump love to demonize; it’s the drought, flooding, loss of arable land, and lack of potable water caused by a human hubris that pours greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere as if the planet’s capacity to recover is limitless. It’s the desperation that makes young men ripe for recruitment to their own religion’s version of self-righteous hatred.
It’s the same staggering callousness to the lives of others that excuses the moral depravity of four Southern Columbia football jocks who beat animals to death for fun. Indeed, if we think that these upstanding young men are any different that the young bucks recruited by ISIS, we’re both blind and stupid. Both have been taught the appalling lesson that some life has value, and other does not.
Is it apples and oranges to compare a local story with international events? Hardly. What torturing nonhuman animals, demonizing “others,” sealing borders, and building moronic walls all have in common is a human chauvinism whose psychotic sense of unearned entitlement is going to burn the planet down—or, well, not the planet—just the ecological and existential conditions that make living worth the struggle. Laughable it is that we’ll risk even speedier dissent into 500 PPB just to drill the hydrocarbons we need to fuel the weapons of “the war on terror,” and in so doing create the conditions of more terrorism.
Make no mistake about it: that lethal combination of arrogance and willful ignorance that excuses beating animals to death is not one whit different manifest as racism, misogyny, homophobia, religious intolerance, and bigoted nationalism. Exploited by those like Donald Trump or Boris Johnson to advance their own egomaniacal agendas, the ends are all the same: violence, suffering, and oppression meted out by those who think they have the right to make of “others” objects for their own use.
Wendy Lynne Lee