What do climate change and racism have in common? Their activists crying wolf too many times. Climate change — an important global issue — is consistently used by climate activists to explain everything from war to shark attacks to “climate refugees.” In his book titled Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, Hans Rosling writes the following:
Most concerning is the attempt to attract people to the cause by inventing the term “climate refugees.” My best understanding is that the link between climate change and migration is very, very weak. The concept of climate refugees is mostly a deliberate exaggeration, designed to turn fear of refugees into fear of climate change, and so build a much wider base of public support for lowering CO2 emissions.
So in order to instill a sense of urgency, climate activists often lie about climate change and attribute effects to a wide range of unrelated global issues, such as migration, war, HIV, and shark attacks despite a severe lack of supporting evidence to these claims.
The common rebuttal by the activists, according to Rosling, is that the “ends justify the means.” Meaning, because it’s a noble cause (reducing air pollution), lying to the public to achieve the goal of reducing emissions is justified.
But crying wolf too many times actually lessons support for the cause as it is no longer seen as legitimate. A lack of trust begins to fester and the actual, legitimate claims begin to be ignored. This is a principle we learn at a young age. Pardon the poor analogy, but it’s akin to faking sick once a week to avoid going to school, and then when you finally actually are sick, you are forced to go because no one believes you anymore.
But what does this have to do with racism? I see many of the same tactics being used by the Left in the United States. Don’t subscribe to the idea that an entire class of people is systemically discriminated against by using available data and studies? You’re racist. Suggest that the reason prisons are disproportionately black is because there is higher crime in black communities (this is because black communities are generally of lower income — it has nothing to do with their skin color) then you are racist. The irony here is that if you examine this issue from another perspective and look at the ratio of males to females in prison, the Left doesn’t come to the conclusion that the criminal justice system is sexist against males. The real reason, of course, is that males commit more violent crimes.
I don’t have actual percentages, but I’d say 99% of people in the United States are against racism. Where there is a separation, however, is how much focus one side puts on racism as the cause for all inequity. When the left blames racism for all injustice or inequity, people on the Right tend to stop listening. It doesn’t further the fight against racism to call people racist who aren’t actually racist; it actually hinders it, as it does when people attempt to blame climate change for just about everything.
Is racism present in the world and the United States? Yes, absolutely. Is it as prevalent, or systemic today in 2020 as it was in the 1950s and 60s? Absolutely not. Acknowledging this fact doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to strive for racial justice, but it means we need to analyze the complexity of situations better and not cry wolf (or blame racism) any time something bad happens or we disagree with someone.
According to a USA Today article in July, in 2019 (the most recent year we have complete data) there were 14 unarmed black victims of shootings by police, and 25 unarmed white victims. I don’t want to focus too much on the black vs. white here, but it’s worth mentioning more white people were shot than black. Additionally, there are about 7,300 black homicide victims per year, the vast majority of which is black on black crime. The 14 unarmed victims in fatal police shootings would comprise only 0.2% of that total.
So if black lives really do matter to the people protesting in the streets and using the #BLM hashtag on their social media accounts, wouldn’t they make more of a difference by focusing on how to reduce the black on black crime than focusing their attention on 0.2% of black homicides?
Now this is where I can sense the veins starting to pop out of the forehead of some on the left just wanting to call me racist and saying I’m excusing the murder of blacks by police. “Even one murder is too many” they say. And they’re not wrong. But to make the most difference we need to focus on the real issues and clearly black on black crime, if we’re going to save more black lives, is where the primary focus should be. Police brutality and reform should also be talked about— but perhaps not in a racist context. It would be more appropriate in a human rights context that white people experience as well.
Again, failure to do this will lose popular support among those that truly do want to help, but are unwilling to place blame in the wrong places. Additionally, no real change can be made if we don’t properly identify the problem. Crying wolf too many times is counter-productive to both the climate change and anti-racism movements.