The antler guy isn't a climate activist. He's an eco-fascist.
The "climate twist" in the Trump-led riot is not what Michael Shellenberger says it is.
I decided to peek at the Twitter accounts of the Republican Party’s favorite climate “experts” over the weekend. I wanted to see what they were saying about the deadly, violent riots President Donald Trump invoked at the U.S. Capitol—specifically, whether they were spreading misinformation about it with the same ease they spread misinformation about the climate crisis.
The first account I looked at was Michael Shellenberger. The founder of the pro-nuclear group Environmental Progress accepts the existence of climate change, but rejects science showing catastrophic impacts. Earlier this year, Shellenberger downplayed the health consequences of climate change as the Republican-called witness at a House climate hearing.
I didn’t have to look any further after going to his profile. Because when I got there, I saw he was implying that Jake Angeli—the high-profile Q-anon supporter/pro-Trump rioter wearing antlers and face paint, recently taken into custody for storming the Capitol—was a “paid actor” who might also be a secret lefty climate activist. It was too good not to look into.
Shellenberger amplifies “paid actor” climate activist conspiracy
The implication that Angeli might be a secret climate activist or paid actor first started spreading on Wednesday, when right-wing YouTuber Cari Kelemen shared photos of Angeli attending a climate rally and a Black Lives Matter rally.
“Trump supporters don't usually attend 'climate activism' events,” she said in a since-deleted tweet. “The guy is an actor. Who knows what side he's on?"
The next day, Shellenberger tweeted that there was “a climate change twist in the plot” of the riots. “The guy in the buckskin appears to be a professional actor,” he said. Shellenberger cited the climate rally as evidence, and said Angeli might have been “hired to participate.” He also questioned whether which side Angeli might “volunteer” for.
“Nobody could make this stuff up!” he said.
Actually, it’s very easy to make this stuff up.
It’s not hard to believe Angeli is a secret climate activist getting paid to impersonate a Trump supporter while inciting violent riots. All you have to do is pretend the signs he’s holding at the protests don’t exist, while also believing that everything Angeli ever said about himself is a lie.
The photo Keleman tweeted of Angeli at a Black Lives Matter rally, for example, cropped out his sign. The full photo shows he was there to express support for Q-anon. Angeli himself has also said he was there as a counter-protester, and is a fervent supporter of Trump and Q-anon.
The sign Angeli brought to the Global Youth Climate Strike in Arizona in 2019 also indicated the reason he was there: to advertise his conspirituality-centered Youtube account. (Conspirituality, writes Jules Evans, the policy director of the Centre for the History of Emotions, is the overlap between conspiracy theory culture and spirituality/wellness culture, which Angeli subscribes to).
There is also no evidence that Angeli is a paid actor. The only thing that comes close is a now-deleted profile on Backstage.com, in which he called himself a “highly talented” voice actor, but lists no actual work performed. (Anyone can make a Backstage account).
The real “climate twist in the plot” is that Angeli is eco-fascist
Angeli’s sign at the climate march said: “The poles are shifting! The ice caps are melting! This is Ragnarok! It’s time to wake up! Youtube Star Seed Academy Channel.”
YouTube appears to have deleted Angeli’s channel for violation of its community guidelines; The name is now owned by a Canadian woman who says she has no affiliation to Angeli. But existingYoutube videos of Angeli talking about Star Seed Academy show him talking about Q and mind control and psychedelic drugs; typical conspirituality stuff, according to Evans.
Evans recently published a fascinating deep-dive into Angeli’s now-deleted social media accounts to explain his ideology. In that deep-dive, Evans found evidence of Angeli’s environmental beliefs. He “says he’s interested in ‘cleansed ecosystems’ and rants against Monsanto and all the chemicals in our environment. But he’s not into global political solutions or anything involving the U.N., all of which he thinks is part of the evil new world order.”
Angeli’s specific use of the word “cleansed” seems pretty important, as Evans has explained that conspirituality folks often dabble in eco-fascism. That’s one of the many reasons he calls the ideology’s subscribers “Nazi Hippies.”
Indeed, there’s a well-documented connection between white supremacists and green living; specifically, the “yearning for purity in the environmental sphere and a desire for racialized purity in the social sphere.” These are all things Angeli has talked about. It’s not that hard to find, but it’s definitely harder than just making stuff up.
The difficult truth: they’re covering for Hippy Nazis
Engaging with reality can be hard, and this situation is no different. Because if Angeli was not a secret leftist or a paid actor, that means he attended both events as exactly the person he claims to be. And if that’s true, that means a Nazi Hippy with eco-fascist sympathies has had his face plastered on every newspaper in the world because the president of the United States inspired him to mount a violent insurrection on the U.S. government.
That’s a hard thing to accept. It’s even harder to accept that many prominent conservatives are ignoring and/or make excuses for Nazi Hippies with eco-fascist sympathies who tried to mount a violent insurrection on the U.S. government. It’s almost unthinkable to accept that some of those people are advising the GOP on climate change.
At the same time, though, it makes a lot of sense why the GOP’s preferred climate adviser would push the unproven theory that Angeli is not actually a Trump supporter. It allows Republicans to condemn the violence without acknowledging responsibility or having to do anything about it. That’s just like his theory that climate change is not actually catastrophic, which allows Republicans to acknowledge climate change but continue to do nothing.
The Venn diagrams continue to overlap into oblivion.
“The Climate Crisis Will Be Steroids for Fascism,” Brian Kahn, Earther, Jan. 7, 2021.
After Wednesday, the boundaries of permissible violence have now expanded to a distorting degree, at a time of increasing climate instability. White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other extremists literally took over the halls of power and got away with it. When climate change upends communities with far fewer defenses—communities that hate groups already scapegoat—the results will be catastrophic.
“Capitol Rioters Walked Away. Climate Protesters Saw a Double Standard,” John Schwartz, New York Times, Jan. 7. 2021.
The relatively small number of arrests after a mob stormed the Capitol left many environmental activists shaken on Thursday — and wanting answers. Why did so many people who brought destruction into the home of American democracy simply walk away after doing so much damage, not just to a building but to the nation’s sense of itself?
Bonus news: high-profile GOP climate figure encourages violence
The GOP’s most extreme climate denier had perhaps the most extreme reaction to Wednesday’s riots.
Marc Morano—who has been the Republican-called expert witness at several Congressional hearings and forums on climate change, and whose climate denial documentary was recently promoted by President Donald Trump—called for similarly violent actions at state Capitols across the country.
“Striking fear in politicians is not a bad thing,” Morano wrote, adding that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Here’s his full Twitter thread:
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Catch of the Day:
Fish is dealing with a hard truth today, too: That we’re going to keep making toast in the apartment, even though he hates it.
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Thank you for this persistent truth-seeking. Fed through your clear, concise and slightly humorous writing, it's helping.
Thank you for your unique take on, well pretty much everything. I so appreciate your courage, curiosity, and powerful (& humorous) writing! Hello to Fish.