Daily Wire host Matt Walsh called climate activists “enemies of civilization” in response to the news that a U.S. citizen had allegedly killed two protesters in Panama, then seemingly blamed the protesters for their own deaths.
On November 8, 77-year-old Kenneth Darlington, who holds dual U.S. and Panamanian citizenship, allegedly shot and killed two Panamanian protesters, Abdiel Díaz Chávez and Iván Rodríguez Mendoza, who were blocking the Pan-American Highway in the Chame District. Disturbing video of the incident is circulating online.
On the November 9 episode of The Daily Wire’s The Matt Walsh Show, Walsh said climate activists, including the two killed in Panama, “are not simply nuisances” but are “in many cases, a mortal threat to sane people everywhere” and “enemies of civilization who endanger the lives of innocents.”
He then claimed that blocking a road in protest is “little different morally than someone who goes outside and starts firing a gun into the air at random targets.”
Walsh later seemed to suggest that it was the protesters' own fault they were killed because they did not respond “like sane people,” realize “they’d pushed this man too far,” and get “out of the road where they had no right to be in the first place.”
Denying there was anything “shocking” about the video itself, Walsh instead expressed surprise that Darlington was “the first person to react that way” in response to what he called “a completely unreasonable sustained blockade.” Walsh has previously said that groups utilizing nonviolent direct action to demand action on climate change should be shown “no mercy” and that they should be “publicly flogged” for blocking roads and throwing food at paintings.
Walsh isn’t the only one. Right-wing media have spent years building their audiences’ disdain for environmentalists, particularly those who dare to speak out about climate change as a serious threat. In response to escalating tactics in the U.S. and abroad, right-wing media have fanned the flames of anger and aggression directed at climate activists and spread calls for violence.
Importantly, the two people Darlington shot were not simply climate activists, but part of a larger movement against foreign exploitation of the country’s natural resources. These protests have been ongoing for months in response to a contract the Panama government signed with First Quantum Minerals, the Canadian mining company that runs the Cobre Panama copper mine. The present deal extends for at least 20 years — with the possibility of extending for another 20 — and allows the company to ask the government to seize land on its behalf if Panamanian land owners decline purchase offers.
Opponents also say the contract lacks transparency, gives too much power to the company, and will threaten water resources.