Perhaps offering fawning coverage of activists vandalizing masterpieces for Planet Earth wasn’t such a bright idea after all. Cara Buckley, with a “Masters of International Affairs, Journalism, Human Rights” (a typical modern discipline), noted on “Climate Forward” that “On Friday, Just Stop Oil posted its own poll asking respondents what should be the focus of the group’s next protests. Targeting ‘great artwork’ was among the options getting the fewest votes.” Funnily enough the top target was “Media Offices,” ahead even of “Fossil Fuel HQs” with “Banks” trailing in third. These birds of prey are once again not gregarious, or grateful. But even so the press remain all in on the cause.
Consider this opening line from Zoe Williams in the Guardian about people wrecking priceless art in their own Narcissistic climate-like protests: “Expert opinion is settled and public opinion united on the urgency of climate action. If our politics or our discourse were in any way functional, there would be no confusion, no debate.” Right. A free press calling for no debate. And since politics is dysfunctional, bypass it to implement the popular will by destroying popular paintings. Or something. Williams’ objection to debate seems to be related to its vexatious requirement to make sense at least of your own arguments if not those of other people. Instead she prattles:
“Is it reasonable for Extinction Rebellion to stop traffic? What if an ambulance can’t get through? Should people glue themselves to trains? What if people can’t get to work? What about throwing soup? But art! These discussions are pretty circular, and often have the pleasing effect of doing activists’ jobs for them: if your aim is to make an impact, any discussion, approving or not, gives you a boost.”
Also in the Guardian, Helen Pankhurst, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of the famous suffragette activists Sylvia and Emmeline Pankhurst and dedicated to overthrowing the Establishment from within (she holds a CBE and is “a professor at Manchester Metropolitan University” having also been chancellor of the University of Suffolk) argued for doing stuff. Channelling her great-grandmother’s rhetoric about women’s suffrage, she wrote:
“The climate activists who recently threw tomato soup on a Vincent van Gogh painting might easily be regarded as gentle beasts turning to desperate resistance. The climate crisis is already deadly for many around the world: in east Africa, one person dies of climate-induced hunger every 36 seconds.”
Having uttered that nonsense (oblivious to the fact that the per person food supply in Africa has risen 25 percent since 1961), she promptly contradicted herself in this manner:
“within every cause there is room for people to find their own versions of activism and militancy. The choice of tactics must not divide the movement. Of course, then, as now, there were red lines: damage to property, not people.”
Uh so would violence against people divide the movement? Yesno. Although normal people do not like lawbreaking and it matters. For instance recovering leftist Michael Shellenberger tweeted recently that:
“Climate fanatics are now attacking art unprotected by plexiglass. This is what happens when governments refuse to prosecute criminal conspiracies. The elites who demanded the freezing of Canadian trucker bank accounts today decry basic law enforcement.”
He also pinned the New York Times by quoting its position on the two:
“NYT Feb. 2022 on Canadian truckers ‘Why has it been so difficult to clear the protesters?’ NYT Nov 2022 on climate protesters: ‘New rules curtailing protests have alarmed some who fear an erosion of civil rights.’”
Professors on the other hand, like journalists, remain keen on the vandalism strategy. NBC sent out an email linking to a “THINK Opinion, Analysis, Essays” item “Why throwing mashed potatoes at Monet can help save the planet/ Generating headlines – which these activists are doing in spades – is critical for advancing climate mitigation policies” by “Brian Kateman, cofounder and president of the Reducetarian Foundation and professor of environmental science and sustainability”.
There was a time when advocating criminal acts might even have imperilled tenure. Now it probably helps you get it. And then you get to tell young people stuff like:
“Pundits argue that the motivation behind this organized chaos, particularly because the artwork themselves have nothing to do with the climate, is ‘daft’ and idiotic. But they couldn’t be more wrong. If climate activists focused only on symbols directly related to what is damaging the planet – like a pipeline or an oil refinery – then it may not have gotten quite the same buzz. It would’ve been too predictable.”
Pundits, mind. Unlike professors of reducetarianism. (Beware of those who wield Newspeak, we say.) Apparently it’s all good if not clean fun because:
“While media coverage of the soup, mashed potato or pastry incidents may not change the minds or behaviors of climate deniers (although, as my research shows, there is some evidence that it can), it does increase the relevance of the issue in the eyes of the public.”
Which apparently hasn’t happened yet. Indeed:
“For decades, topics concerning the climate crisis were shrouded in obscurity within academic journals and conferences. But recently, we’ve seen a push for more journalists to cover the climate crisis.”
Recently? Is that how it is on your home planet? Because here on Earth, just about every mainstream media outlet has a climate division and some are openly subsidized by environmental foundations. As he then proceeds to note without noting the contradiction.
He does then quote one opponent of vandalism. But only as a foil for his conclusion that:
“according to a 2021 United Nations Development Programme’s global poll that covered 50 countries and had 1.2 million respondents, a majority of people believe climate change is an emergency and support mitigation policies.”
Which means the masters themselves would no doubt be cheering on the protests:
“If Monet, da Vinci and van Gogh were alive today, they should be glad that their works are raising awareness for an important cause.”
If he believes those words, let him go vandalize the artwork of some living artists and see if they cheer him on. Or better yet, throw soup at his own office building or that of the news outlet that ran his diatribe. Which seems to be what the public really wants to see happen.