There are a number of arguments against building the Keystone XL Pipeline, but there is only one that counts. We have to keep the carbon in the ground. Building the pipeline is not that.
There is now short video ad from Keystone Truth that makes a more specific argument. It isn’t really an argument against building it (see above for that) but rather, a more detailed look at what Keystone XL involves, putting a finer edge, perhaps, on why it should be opposed by Americans. The ad, titled “Sucker Punch – Keystone Truth,” is designed to inform Americans that they are probably getting suckered by the builders of Keystone. Keystone supporters claim that by linking the Canadian Tar Sands to the Gulf Coast of the United States we would become “energy independent.” But there is good reason to believe that the whole point of Keystone is to provide an efficient way to move the tar sands gunk through, not to, the United States for sale overseas. Furthermore, the ad claims, probably correctly, that one of the major financial backers of this effort, perhaps even the major backer, is China. (China has invested 30 billion of the 100 billion invested so far. I believe this is the largest single investment.) It makes sense that a plan to move Canadian tar sands gunk out to the rest of the world would involve foreign investors, and it also makes sense that China would be one of these, if not the Big Panda in the room, because China has the cash to do this. And, probably, the thirst for the gunk itself.
Here is the ad:
It is possible to see the ad as “Red Bating.” This is where we prey on American anti-Asian racism, which often involves the tropes of the clever Oriental Entity and/or the Red Scare. It makes China a bad guy using themes that reach back into American cultural history to exploit long established and deep racialized hatred and mistrust.
This may be true. But it is also true that the ad does not really invoke any of the traditional symbols of this sort of thing. Yes, it shows a lot of red along with the China part of the story, and the red flag with the stars on it, and it even highlights, using a B&W vs. Color contrast, the red in the Chinese Flag and the red in the Canadian flag. But, it is also true that red is the color of China and is used abundantly by the Chinese in pro-China patriotic depiction and decoration, especially in places like … well, like Red Square. Also, that is the Chinese flag and that is the Canadian flag. And China really is investing a lot of money to get the tar sands gunk to a particular market where they will benefit.
One could say that the Chinese, the Canadians, the pro-Keystone Americans, and the Keystone corporate structure are all depicted as the capitalists they are. Running dog capitalists even, if I may borrow a phrase. But yes, the ad not so subtly allows for viewers to make the link to deep seated fear and distrust.
So here we go again. Progressive liberal left wingers (left wingers!) heavily analyzing our own message (because this is a message that works for our side) and possibly even fighting over how to make the argument to the extent that we weaken the argument ourselves. But we keep our integrity. The reason the right wing wins so many of these battles of rhetoric is because they almost never do that.
Suckers. We are. But perhaps we like it that way.