The important distinction in the title is explained in an incisive Twitter thread by Breitbart writer John Hayward. The thread trades on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s grilling on Tuesday of Wells Fargo’s CEO, Timothy Sloan. Sloan appeared before the House Committee on Financial Services to discuss his efforts to clean up the bank’s fake accounts scandal since taking over in October 2016.
When it was Ocasio-Cortez’s turn to ask questions, she asked Sloan about a cleanup of a different sort. Specifically she focused on Wells Fargo’s financing of the Dakota Access pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline, which was not only off-topic but factually incorrect. (As noted here, the Keystone XL pipeline hasn’t yet been built. AOC evidently had the Keystone pipeline in mind.)
You can watch the exchange beginning at 2:19 in the video below. The transcript follows.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Mr. Sloan, Wells Fargo was also an investor — a major investor — in the Dakota Access pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline. And they were prime investors and lenders to companies building these pipelines in defiance of Standing Rock Sioux’s treaty rights to protect its water and sacred lands. Ah, they warned early on — the Lakota Sioux warned early on — that the pipeline was unstable and bound to leak. Despite that, it was built anyway and it has leaked at least five times. And the Keystone XL, in particular, had one leak that leaked 210,000 gallons across South Dakota. Since Wells Fargo financed the building of this pipeline in an environmentally unstable way, why shouldn’t the bank be held responsible for the cleanup of the disasters from these projects?
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Timothy Sloan: Ah, which pipeline are you referring to?
Ocasio-Cortez: Um, either.
Sloan: We were not involved in the financing of the XL pipeline. We were one of the 17 or 19 banks that was involved in the financing of the Dakota Access pipeline.
Ocasio-Cortez: So, uh, so Wells Fargo hasn’t financed any company associated with the Keystone XL pipeline?
Sloan: No, I said we are not involved in financing that pipeline specifically.
Ocasio-Cortez: So let’s focus on the Dakota Access pipeline. Should Wells Fargo be responsible for damages incurred by climate change due to the financing of fossil fuels and these projects?
Sloan: I don’t know how you calculate that, congresswoman.
Ocasio-Cortez: [Incomprehensible] From spills or we have to reinvest in infrastructure building sea walls from the erosion of infrastructure or clean-ups, wildfires, et cetera.
Sloan: Related to that pipeline? I’m not aware that there’s been any of what you describe that’s incurred—
Ocasio-Cortez: [Icomprehensible] How about the cleanups from the leaks from the Dakota Access pipeline?
Sloan: I’m not aware of the leaks associated with the Dakota Access pipeline that you’re describing.
Ocasio-Cortez: So, hypothetically, if there was a leak from the Dakota Access Pipeline, why shouldn’t Wells Fargo pay for the cleanup of it, since it paid for the construction of the pipeline itself?
Sloan: We don’t operate the pipeline, we provide financing to the company that’s operating the pipeline.
The exchange was vintage Ocasio-Cortez, but the implications of the line of questioning are more pernicious, as Hayward notes:
It’s sadly necessary to repeat this lesson because “fascism” is so routinely abused as a catch-all devil word, an insult for any idea the speaker doesn’t like (or, these days, wishes to ban or violently suppress) but fascism is a distinct ideology.
— John Hayward (@Doc_0) March 13, 2019
Historians argue about this or that flavor of fascism, people are understandably obsessed with its horrifying side effects, but at its core fascism is precisely the idea AOC endorsed: capital is privately owned but controlled and directed by the State. and its ideologues.
— John Hayward (@Doc_0) March 13, 2019
There is more to the thread, which is well worth reading.