Donald Trump's affinity for the fossil fuel industry is no secret: from his brazen climate denial to his appointment of climate deniers and oil executives like Scott Pruitt and Rex Tillerson and his stringent defense of coal against "the war on coal," Trump has taken numerous measures to intensify the pace of global warming while impeding efforts to combat it. These measures include taking down climate research from government websites to fast-tracking oil pipelines and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. But one aspect of Trump's abysmal record on global warming which is not discussed enough is his relationship with the automobile industry.
In just the first week of his presidency, Trump met with a number of auto corporate executives and their interests aligned quite well - such as their shared opposition to environmental regulations. As one executive opined shortly beforehand:
“Everybody in this industry is kind of realizing simultaneously [Trump] could be quite good for us,” said Joseph Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas. “We’re all adapting to this new reality post-November 8th. You have to look for opportunity in everything; that’s how you have to approach the business.”
“We’re the largest manufacturer of vehicles in the United States. We’re one of the largest exporters of vehicles form the United States. So Ford Motor Company is a great example of what this all means and what it could look like.”
So what if we do take Ford as a representative example? Especially in the wake of the Charlottesville Nazi murder-by-car of Heather Hayer, it would be negligent in the extreme to forget that Ford was an ardent Nazi sympathizer and a man whom Hitler admired a great deal. Among American industrialists with a stake in automobile production, Ford was hardly alone in his ties to Nazi Germany. Indeed, while Ford was cited as "my inspiration" by Hitler, the Carnegie Institution (founded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie) funded decades of eugenics research and collaborated extensively with Nazi eugenicists. Completing this trifecta was Oil Magnate John D. Rockefeller, whose Standard Oil supplied the Nazi Army with the petroleum it needed until WWII broke out, and was heavily involved with IG Farben, which manufactured Zyklon B and operated Auschwitz.
Among automobile manufacturers, Ford was hardly alone, either; General Motors also played an important role in the Nazi war effort. And just as Ford's factories in Nazi Germany made prolific use of concentration camp slave labor, so did the family dynasty behind BMW. Together they were joined by Ferdinand Porsche, who was a close adviser to Hitler, public official in the Nazi Government and also the founder of Volkswagen, which was a Nazi project from the beginning. And this legacy does not seem to be lost at all on some of Trump's supporters, who almost seem to have noticed with glee that global warming is turning the planet itself into a giant greenhouse gas chamber:
Given the genocidal consequences of global warming, the historical involvement of these corporations in fascism should be a cause for extreme concern, and is one sign that fascism has transformed - rather than disappeared - since the 1930s and 40s. Indeed, the "America First" slogan now popularized by Trump was coined by American Nazi Sympathizers and touted by industrialists including Henry Ford.
Resisting Trump will require showing Trump's corporate allies - such as the oil and automobile industries - that their involvement in fascism, climate genocide and attendant denial will have consequences. But how can we solve the problem of global warming, as long as we continue to burn the oil and drive the cars which are fueling this disaster? Especially in this vacuum of federal leadership, stopping global warming is going to require taking responsibility for our own carbon pollution, and coming together through collective action to force a real change. Help us make this a reality by cutting down on your automobile use as much as you possibly can, and joining our monthly stop driving boycott on the 11th-14th of every month.