Memes Protest Ecofascism: "Earth Is Healing, We Are the Virus"
The "Earth is healing, we are the virus" phrase often hides an underlying ecofascist ideology.
It's true: During coronavirus, pollution has decreased.
Many people have taken to the Internet to celebrate this, latching onto inspiring stories about animals returning to nature in the absence of humans. One Twitter user wrote, "Coronavirus is Earth's vaccine. We're the virus."
The tweet garnered 70,000 retweets, as well as some criticism of what it implies. "The problem is not people," replied one user. "That's some ecofash sh*t that leads to genocide."
"Ecofash" stands for "ecofascism," an ideology that essentially disguises white supremacy as environmentalism. Ecofascists generally argue that humans should sacrifice themselves in order to preserve the environment—but usually, this implies that an authoritarian, fascist, genocidal state is necessary in order to keep down the human population and to preserve the natural world.
The ideology usually houses a hatred of all things "dirty," which quickly becomes racism and classism that can be used to justify horrific actions. Ecofascists tend to believe in eugenics and often harbor anti-migrant and anti-multiculturalist sentiments rooted in Nazism. This thought process influenced the Unabomber, the Christchurch shooter, and the El Paso shooter, who all shared a disregard for industrial human civilization and decided to channel it into homicidal violence. Today, ecofascism is popular on forums like 8chan, and it often corresponds with an emphasis on outdated, misogynistic family values and a weird obsession with pine trees and Nordic imagery.
Most environmentalists and people with brains openly reject this entire absurd concept, understanding the fact that environmental degradation is actually primarily the result of capitalism and inequality. Namely, we should probably blame the destruction of the Earth on the 100 companies who are actually the source of 71% of the world's pollution, as well as the super-rich who hoard wealth and use far more resources than most of the rest of the world combined.
Reducing migration and even decreasing the size of the human population will matter very little if we fail to shift the energy sector away from unclean energy. In other words, the unironic "we are the virus" memes bear echoes of ecofascism, even if the people reposting them didn't intend to promote that sentiment.
Coronavirus is hurting people tremendously, and to argue that it's a good thing—or to imply that the people suffering deserve what they're going through—is insensitive at best, genocidally motivated at worst. If any people posting this meme really did care about the Earth, maybe they'd be protesting the fact that the EPA is rolling back its environmental regulations in the US or that big oil is sneakily using this crisis as a chance to push the Keystone Pipeline forward. Or maybe they'd do a little research and discover that the whole "dolphins have returned to Venice's canals" idea is actually incorrect. According to the city's mayor, the dolphins were always there—and now that there are no boats on the canals, we're seeing them for the first time. A little temporary reduction in pollution didn't save the world. While there's nothing wrong with finding solace in animal-themed content during these scary times, be sure to check that your dolphin fetish isn't just thinly veiled white supremacy.
In response to existing ecofascist sentiments, the Internet's army of justice-defending meme warriors have created a new trend: They've been photoshopping animals and strange objects into places they don't belong, repurposing the "we are the virus" catchphrase to successfully parody the ecofascists into obscurity. So the next time someone texts you about how the goats have reclaimed Wales, send them any of the following.
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