A core feature of propaganda is the co-opting of the opposition’s messaging, and the fossil fuel industry’s greenwashing is a perfect example. The idea that methane-based “natural” gas is good for the environment despite being a fossil fuel that’s incompatible with a safe climate has been a particularly popular one, even with Democratic administrations who know better.
At the same time the industry seeks to soften its image with the general public with that sort of greenwashing, it’s also stepping it up with woke-washing, trying to portray itself as a BLM-supporting, #MeToo-friendly, Indigenous-approved industry while it pollutes communities of color, and sets up man camps compounding the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. And that’s not even the height of the hypocrisy!
Because at the same time they’re trying to convince people that the fossil fuel industry is a reputable and trustworthy corporate actor, they’re also keeping their base stoked with hate and bigotry, stirring the same sort of anti-woke racism that the industry simultaneously disavows. And they’re not even subtle about it, at times doing both, right next to one another!
Last week, for example, the Koch’d-up RealClearEnergy had five fossil fuel front-group op-eds in its “Recommended” tab. Two were blatant fossil fuel ads by front group shills, while another was an attack on Democratic “overreach on U.S. energy policy” by another dark money funded dirty energy lobbyist. Of the remaining two, one warned that censorious “woke cancel culture won’t help Democrats,” while the other took the opposite approach, using “woke” language to claim “climate colonialists disrupt African pipeline, perpetuate poverty.”
The piece is responding to Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate’s New York Times op-ed arguing against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline on the grounds that thousands of locals will be displaced for an inherently risky and climate-destroying pipeline while 70% of the profits go to the French and Chinese companies that own it. “This pipeline is not an investment for the people,” Nakate wrote, whereas “there is a huge appetite for clean energy alternatives.”
The dark money disinfo front CO2Coalition’s Vijay Jayaraj replied that “Vanessa claims that the pipeline is another colonial project subjecting Africans to slavery. But, it is Vanessa and her ilk who are the colonialists and would-be slave masters.”
Except neither “colonial” nor “slavery” appear in Nakate’s op-ed, nor does she use any remotely “woke” language or metaphors to justify describing that as her “claims”. The quote above about it not being “an investment for the people” is about as close as she gets, which is obviously a far cry from claiming it’s colonialism and slavery.
In addition to patronizingly referring to Nakate by her first name, Jayaraj accuses Nakate of being hyperbolic, while himself amping up the rhetoric by woke-ifying what was actually written to trigger an audience primed to hate anti-racist liberals and justify what he surely feels is an incredibly clever attempt to turn “woke” concern on its head, and not just the latest example of the many ways in which industry actors exploit the poor for profit.
Jayaraj’s I know you are but what am I trolling is based on a misrepresentation. He couldn’t even heckle honestly, and anyone who bothered to actually do the reading would know it. But who cares about the real words someone actually wrote, when there’s misogynoir to be had!?
Which is probably why Vanessa’s writing in the New York Times, while the only place Vijay’s getting published is in the Koch’s discount disinfo op-ed (Real)Clearance bin.