Dear Naomi Klein, please stop making my work difficult
The amount of mental illness in the global warming cult is staggering to me. Now wealth distribution advocates like Naomi Klein say that America has to pay a "climate debt" to poor countries for global warming
How can Klein write stuff like the "Shock Doctrine" and then turn around and say that western countries like Canada, US and Great Britian own countries like Bolivia money
Last Friday I was in the Fresh Air Centre for bloggers and new media at the COP15 summit in Copenhagen, organized by the TckTckTck campaign, and I got into an argument with Naomi Klein.
I went up to Klein, thanked her for the Shock Doctrine and asked, with regard to her use of the term "reparations" in talking about climate aid to developing nations, if she knew what a damaging word that was to use in the US – because it specifically called up the idea of reparations for slavery. (The word has become popular in some circles to mean getting wealthy nations to pay a responsible share of adaptation and mitigation support and to cut emissions, also referred to more neutrally as climate debt.) In particular, I asked her if she knew that it made it impossible for Obama to agree to do anything referred to in that way.
Really, it would be impossible for any US president. But for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who stopped to think about them at all, you can replace any instance of "reparations" in any speech or text with "Barack Obama can't say yes to this, nor can he ever once utter this word."
Klein launched into a description of how the word made her feel, saying that it seemed appropriate because it connoted repair. I must have been looking at her really hard. She said maybe I should send a memo to the whole Global South telling them to stop using it, and wouldn't that be odd. She laughed. I said that they could say whatever they want to say, but if they want to ask the US for things, they can't use that word.
Klein then said I was trying to give Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh the right to tell her what to say, tell everyone what to say, and she didn't like it. "You Americans," she said, "want to hold us all to what's possible in DC, which is apparently nothing."
"You," Klein said, and I'm not sure if she meant "you Americans" again or was referring to me, personally, "have such a limited sense of the possible ...[and] ... give up before you even try." She said she thought it was possible to reclaim the term and added that she'd gotten great responses to an article she wrote in Rolling Stone where she'd used it, and here our conversation was putting me in jeopardy of needing to go into a corner and bang my head repeatedly against the wall.
I told her that I supposed we were just going to have to disagree on this and turned to go.
If you didn't grow up in the US, "reparations" is merely a thesaurus entry to you, so what do you care whether you have to look up another damn word to use? If you did grow up in the US, whether or not you're a Rolling Stone kind of person and are willing to overlook it, you know that the only way you could be more divisive would be to rename the climate movement "reconstruction" and decide that we should all call ourselves carpetbaggers. At which point, all future climate discussions might as well be carried out with live ammo between participants dressed in blue and gray uniforms.
Though even with our problems, it isn't fair to make this kind of "you Americans" criticism as if we're all the same by accident of sharing a nation. Various Americans have even made innovative contributions to the global campaign for climate justice. One of them, Bill McKibben, was sitting right next to Naomi Klein that evening, and I got the impression that they knew each other.
It's further unfair to suggest my aspirations are low or say I give up too easily. For example, I'm trying to get my government to give me healthcare without declaring my uterus the property of the US's most conservative shamans. I'm also trying to figure out how to get rid of the filibuster, rebuild something like a functioning civil society, overcome the undermining of the progressive movement from a Democratic White House, and – oh, yeah – trying to get Congress and more of the American public to give a shit about the biggest existential crisis humanity has ever faced while in the middle of a gale of pro-fossil fuel propaganda.
I'm not trying to do these things by myself, obviously, but I don't want to also refight the goddamn Civil War right now, seeing as how I and my colleagues are already kind of busy getting our asses kicked, you know?
Ms Klein: please realize that there are people in the US who agree with you on many, many things. We aren't a monolith united behind all the doings of our government. Yet every time you say that word, you make our work harder and push us farther away from the future we would like to create for our country. Every time you encourage others who are serious about combating climate change to use it, you do them and their cause a disservice.
If you really want to help though, I have an idea. Why not show us how it's done and fix that little tar sands problem you've got up there in the Great White North? It would be so inspring and we all really need a win right now a lot more than we need yet another uphill battle. For someone with such a vast sense of the possible as yourself, surely it'd be no trouble.