The Deported

Last week, a caller to the great progressive host David Pakman’s program came up with a modest proposal: use xenophobia to bridge the partisan gap on climate change. The caller noted that climate-change deniers also tend to be bigots (a point Peter Sinclair has long made), and suggested that climate hawks should point out that as seas soar and droughts devastate, more and more people will try to come to the United States, legally or illegally, to survive (notwithstanding America’s own climate-caused chaos).

At first I thought this suggestion was absurd; climate-change deniers are not known for comprehensive thinking, and the idea that these folks would grasp a connection between a warming world and breached borders seemed pretty far-fetched. However, if the racism and xenophobia of climate-change deniers is stronger than their scorn for science, then in theory, the caller’s concept might actually work.

Like Bruce Bartlett, I anticipate that Catholic climate deniers will seek alternate faith routes once Pope Francis issues his encyclical on the environment later this year. How would those deniers–who presumably also harbor an intense fear of an “invasion” by “illegal aliens”–react if they were told that such an “invasion” would indeed take place if the planet’s temperature increased as a result of carbon pollution? Could the prejudice of deniers be used against them?

Obviously, no climate hawk would be unethical enough to explicitly or implicitly argue that right-wingers should support action on climate change in the name of “stopping illegal immigration.” The creepy thing is, though, that if somebody did try to make that argument, it could actually gain some political and cultural traction.

UPDATE: John L. Allen Jr. on the latest ridiculous climate-denier talking point concerning the upcoming Papal encyclical.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.