Written by: Shahd Khourshed
Humans are Earth’s virus, and COVID-19 is the vaccine.
Social media platforms, such as Twitter and TikTok, have been praising and sharing this idea for the past weeks. That dangerous statement (however well-intentioned it may have been) has brought back ecofascist tropes fueled by environmentalism and negligence for human life. Yes, Italy’s canals are clearing and China’s air pollution is decreasing, but encouraging a positive correlation between the coronavirus and the environmental benefits is suggesting that a loss of human life is necessary for the sake of future sustainability. The trending tweets assume there’s a direct link between humanity and the well-being of our environment. Normalizing this ideology through social media can only continue hurting already vulnerable communities.
Minorities are already struggling enough during this pandemic. Asian Americans are suffering from hate crimes and racism because COVID-19 is being labeled as the “Chinese Virus.” Hispanic and African-American households aren’t earning their paychecks because many businesses are closing. To top it off, there are tremendous mortality disparities between minority groups. That fact alone reinforces that all the “We are the virus” statements are contributing to and reinforcing ecofascism.
Ecofascism, simply put, is environmentalism with xenophobia and the elimination of people of color. It’s the belief that sacrificing minorities is “worth it” if the Earth wants to continue providing for future generations. This ideology is deeply rooted in white supremacy and violence against non-white and marginalized populations, turning them into scapegoats. The trope that there must be sacrifices for the good of the environment takes advantage of many lives and can result in genocide. After all, when it’s decided that some groups of people must sacrifice themselves, the groups chosen are often the marginalized populations.
Besides being racist and classist, ecofascists also blame climate change on certain groups of people rather than the companies emitting all the carbon. Instead of understanding that our dying planet is due to the capitalism of oil companies, they choose to hold individuals accountable for our environmental problems. This mindset is dangerous and, to be frank, isn’t doing much to save our ecosystems. Eliminating certain groups isn’t the answer. Working together to reduce carbon emissions and water pollution will help sustain the Earth.
Though everyone who retweeted those messages wasn’t necessarily aware of their underlying meaning, I believe that we should be aware of the negative effect of our words. These ecofascist beliefs are hurting humans who have just as much of a right to live as anyone else on this planet.
about the Author
About Shahd: "I’m a freshman from Texas who wants to make a difference someday in the medical field. When I’m not contributing to GenZ Writes, you can find me rewatching disney movies and reading classic literature. I’m also a part of my school’s DECA and HOSA chapters."