A warning to environmental activists: when you have to turn to something strange to defend your cause, it often means you are losing the battle. If you need to hang a banner atop a bridge to convince Jasmine to be your girlfriend, chances are she’ll expect you to slip. The same principle holds true for the Just Stop Oil protests.
The new and patently ridiculous variety of ecoterrorism targets European museum holdings. Young activists, who have learned to mimic Greta Thunberg’s pained facial expressions, often position themselves by throwing food at some of the most valuable works of art in the western world and then spitting an incomprehensible rant at onlookers.
I’m as confused as you are.
We might be tempted to think that this is just a juvenile prank, that the protesters are acting on their own and that everyone has the right to be idiots at that age. But those assumptions fly out of the window titled when you open the The Guardian and reads an article by Aileen Getty: “I give money to climate activism — and applaud Van Gogh’s protest.”
The truth is that there is nothing spontaneous about these protests. Just go to the Climate Emergency Fund website to learn that the organization, whose main funder is the Getty, is in the midst of a campaign called “Autumn of 2022. Sustained and disruptive protest. In countries.” Among the eleven partner organizations carrying out these actions are Declare Emergency (USA), Dernière Rénovation (France), Just Stop Oil (UK), Save Old Growth (Canada) and Ultima Generazione (Italy). Most of these groups have held protests in the past which, while they consider them peaceful, usually involve some form of physical confrontation.
As for Aileen Getty — whose grandfather, Jean Paul Getty, was an American oil tycoon—history is full of the children of billionaires who turn rebels and give their lives to far-left causes; only the rich can afford communism, after all [Nota do Tradutor: para saber mais sobre a fortuna da família Getty, assista ao filme ‘Todo o Dinheiro do Mundo’ (2017), do diretor Ridley Scott]. Undoubtedly, her biography is as moving as it is horrifying, and the only happy thing we find in her is that she had the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor as her mother-in-law. Otherwise, her story is so harsh, so over-the-top, so insane, and so lysergic that even celebrating that she managed to get over it, we can’t see her as the kind of person any ordinary person would ask for life advice, let alone advice. about what to do with the lives of the entire planet.
These tactics are just the latest expression of a long-running activist campaign. Since 2000, most law enforcement agencies around the world have reported acts of sabotage and other attacks carried out by extremists among animal rights groups and environmentalists. Europol’s latest reports on terrorist groups point to the danger posed by the radicalization of certain climate activists. However, they traditionally do not consider their actions to be ecoterrorism: a confidential document declassified at 20 notes that Europol will not use “ecoterrorism” to refer to attacks by radical environmentalists, but will refer to them as “single issue terrorism”. They reserve “ecoterrorism” for attacks on the environment. The move is suspicious: it is the rare case where the modifier or prefix before terrorism refers to the object of the attack and not the identity or motivation of the terrorist. It would be like calling the Islamic State’s atrocities “normal people’s terrorism”.
Europol, of course, is involved in environmental policies, as are all EU institutions, and doesn’t seem too interested in anything that might tarnish the activists’ name. In their report of 2017, they note that environmental activism has taken the form of peaceful actions. If there were violent incidents between them, it was due to the infiltration of anarchist and extreme left groups. Meanwhile, in the 2022 report, the only allusion to environmental terrorism appears surprisingly in the section on far-right terrorist groups and carries the enigmatic label of “ecofascism”; the authors of the report, however, do not specify concrete actions, stressing that this is only a future danger.
But if you take a look at the emergence of the most important non-jihadist terrorist groups century 20, you can see the progression from activism to violence over time as belief becomes a kind of religious dogma. In the aforementioned article, Aileen explains how she justifies the recent stunts in museums. She claims that their activism is forced into these exhibitions because what is at stake is their lives, ours and those of future generations. That reasoning, in her mind, is a free pass for activists to do what they want, when and where they want. What’s stopping them from trading their mashed potatoes for something more lethal? Maybe just tougher prison sentences.
The truth is that climate change activism has become religious dogma. The way in which the host of the prime-time program of the Spanish left-wing radio network Ser began her editorial comment last week is paradigmatic: “Climate change is killing us. And if there is anyone who does not want to see and deny the evidence, they should be excluded from the conversation and public debate.” If you replace “climate change” with “vaccines” or “doing homework”, you will find that your thinking needs to be improved.
Just Stop Oil exists because the left-wing elites are interested in it and fund it. But beware: even though these exploits seem trivial today, there are many who no longer tolerate any sort of climate debate – just blind faith and obedience – which could bring our current discourse on the environment to the brink of actual violence someday.
For now, the main victim of these non-spontaneous attacks is not Van Gogh, nor the oil companies, nor the politicians — but the cleaning crew.
©2022 National Review. Published with permission. Original in English.