Today’s radical left progressive movement has two main branches. The two share the common element of fundamentally arising from the deep need of wealthy people to expiate their guilt over their sins of economic success and comfortable lifestyle. But in other ways the two branches are totally contradictory.
The two branches of the movement are:
- The environmental branch, now completely swallowed up by the cult of climate alarmism and the demand to rid the world of fossil fuels. Here wealthy and almost entirely white activists and donors form and fund NGOs to protest and lobby to get the government to suppress energy that is cheap and that works, and thereby to drive up the cost so as to force low income people and members of minority groups into energy poverty all in order (supposedly) to “save the planet.”
- The diversity, inclusion and equity (DIE) branch, currently focused on the demand for equal economic outcomes in all societal positions and jobs except NBA player. In this branch of the movement, an overlapping group of nearly-as-entirely white and wealthy activists and donors prove their superior virtue by demanding ever more aggressive affirmative action programs that somehow never work to alter economic outcomes among ethnic groups, while simultaneously accusing everyone else of “systemic racism” and “white supremacy.”
Given the fundamental inconsistencies of the goals of the two branches of the progressive movement, it’s actually remarkable how the two have managed to minimize what could easily turn into major conflicts. But in recent months things have boiled over at an organization called 350.org.
Are you familiar with 350.org? It’s the super-activist environmental NGO founded in 2008 by professor and author Bill McKibben and 8 others described by Politico as “a group of white people.” The 350 of the name, according to the group, is the highest level of atmospheric CO2, in parts per million, that is acceptable for the planet. (The current level is well above that.). The front page of the organization’s website states the mission:
Stop Fossil Fuels. Build 100% Renewables. We are standing up to the fossil fuel industry to stop all new coal, oil and gas projects and build a clean energy future for all.
350.org is perhaps most famous for its role in organizing protests and demonstrations that ultimately blocked the Keystone XL pipeline. The fact that the organization’s program, if adopted, would dash any hope for prosperity among millions of poor people and members of minority groups does not appear to trouble 350.org at all.
McKibben himself phased out of the CEO role in about 2014, and apparently has little remaining active role at 350.org today. His successor and current CEO is a woman named May Boeve. Here is a picture of the two of them:
It would be hard to get any whiter than that pair!
The current difficulties at 350.org are detailed in a long February 20 piece at Politico with the headline “The group that brought down Keystone XL faces agonies of its own.” To summarize the background: It seems that in 2019, under the leadership of Boeve, the organization embarked on a strategic program to greatly increase its size, staff and, consequently, its cost structure. In May of that year, Boeve spent $800,000 on a boondoggle corporate retreat in Ireland:
[A]t the Killarney retreat that May Boeve, the executive director and one of 350.org’s founders, announced that she’d hiked the organization’s annual budget to $25 million. She told staff to dream big. She revealed plans for nearly 130 new hires to make a splash at global climate strikes that September. . . .
The 130 new hires represented a near-doubling of the group’s then level of staff. According to Politico, a main purpose of the staff increase was to “improve the organization’s diversity and equity.” Apparently the organization’s “diversity and equity” up to that point had been deficient, although no amount of searching on my part seems to turn up statistics on their pre-2019 racial and ethnic breakdown. According to Politico as to the organization as of 2019:
It was also hard to tell just how diverse the staff was. 350.org’s reporting on its racial and ethnic makeup has been opaque. The organization said it did not have systems in place for people to identify their race or other demographic information as recently as 2019, and is only just now getting a handle on that information.
I like that excuse about not having “systems in place.” Could they have counted them? My three year old grandson can count to 100.
Anyway, the result of the hiring binge without having the funding lined up was a bloodbath of layoffs later in 2019. Politico interviews some 10 or more ex-staffers as to what happened next. You won’t be surprised to learn that underlying it all is white supremacism. Here was the situation as of 2019:
Even with McKibben’s role minimized, the organization’s power center still ran through white officials at the top who set 350.org’s tone, even as the lower ranks were filled with people of color, according to 10 current and former staff members. . . . White, wealthy liberals have dominated green groups for decades, coloring environmentalism with a reputation for elitism.
350.org hired consultant Hannah Lownsbrough to produce a report as to what went wrong. According to Lownsbrough’s report (via Politico):
“Layoffs in the US have been experienced as disproportionately affecting people of color and with other marginalised identities on the 350 staff team; concerns have been expressed about the emergence of a ‘white supremacy dominance culture.’”
Most of the recently-hired “Black and brown” people in the organization who were not fired then quit. A black woman and 350.org executive named Tamara Toles O’Laughlin was responsible for hiring many of the minority group members on staff. Ms. O’Laughlin herself quit in December 2020. She has this to say about the people she had hired:
“[I left behind] a women-led, majority Black and brown leadership team. . . . I hired just about every one of the Black and brown people on that staff and I do not believe any except for one are still there.”
To top it all off, Politico quotes one Anthony Rogers-Wright of the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest in a statement applying not just to 350.org but also to many other environmental NGOs:
“My question is simple, why do we continue to work with white-led organizations that treat Black people and Black women in particular like shit?”
Specifically as to 350.org’s treatment of racial minorities, Rogers-Wright says:
“[350.org] needs to be put on notice.”
I can’t say that I am surprised at all to learn that 350.org is permeated by “white supremacy dominance culture.” The simple truth as to what’s going on is that the people who run and fund the place are wealthy, guilty white liberals who have somehow convinced themselves that they can alleviate their own guilt by further impoverishing low income people and members of minority groups. Of course when push comes to shove they “treat [b]lack people like shit.” What I can’t understand is how the DIE activists think that they can make common cause with these people.