Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center has released a new report, “Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism and the Hypocrisy of Hate.” The report documents a sweeping, renewed attempt by anti-immigration activists to convince environmentalists that they, too, must oppose immigration if they are to save the environment from the ravages of a growing population.
Because such efforts typically have been organized by anti-immigration activists whose leading concern is not the environment — men and women who attempt to recruit conservationists and other “progressives” to their cause, sometimes even while simultaneously working with nakedly anti-environmental forces — this strategy has come to be known as “greenwashing.” The efforts are essentially cynical, aimed at deflecting charges of racism by cloaking anti-immigrant views in green.
This recent campaign is not the first. For years, nativists have been trying to manipulate environmentalists and, in 2004, anti-immigrant activists came close to achieving a majority on the Sierra Club’s board of directors, a catastrophe that would have drastically altered the mission of America’s largest environmental organization. The continued efforts reveal how persistent nativists are in trying to recruit environmentalists to their cause by blaming immigrants for a host of environmental ills.