The Extinction Rebellion, over the past week, has stirred the emotions of Britain. Whether deemed irresponsible trouble makers by some members of the public and politicians, or principled civilians passionate about conserving the environment for the future, it is safe to say that it has (thankfully) provided some relief from Brexit.
Extinction Rebellion is a protest group advocating for some truly terrific policies: Stewardship of the planet, institutional environmental change and non-violent protest. It forces us to examine, holistically, what part we have played in climate change, and what part we can play in the future.
However, whilst the group may stand on a platform emphasising environmental degradation, animal welfare, anthropocene extinction and conservation, my quibble is with the people themselves. I am not attempting to disqualify their reasons for protesting, as I believe if no one did we would be in a worse situation, just to highlight the politicised nature of those on the march and the sheer hypocrisy of many of Extinction’s leadership.
One simply has to look and see that, seemingly, the vast majority of protesters are the types of people you would expect to see on this type of demonstration. Aside from the fact that many are dressed like scarecrows and their diet must consist of mung beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the vast majority are left wing. Simply have a browse of the Twitter accounts of those who went on the Extinction Rebellion. Scroll back enough and you’ll find a treasure chest of Corbynista propaganda (#JC4PM), anarchy symbols or ‘Remain’ social media posts. Now, I’m not saying they are wrong to believe in these things. I personally do not share their political beliefs. But, for such a protest to look representative, it needs the inclusion of a broad coalition of many, like me who want to help save the planet, but don’t want to be associated with Extinction’s radical leftist leadership and grassroots supporters. Just look at the social media activities of one of Extinction’s creators, Roger Hallam, where he accused Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson (both Right wing politicians) of “hijacking our democracy” in the wake of the 2016 EU referendum. Additionally, the group’s spokesperson Robin Boardman-Pattison, tweeted that allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party were an Israeli-organised “smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn”. For a group that is attempting to build a broad coalition of support, there is clearly one set of people they ideologically despise: the Right.
The patronising tone of some in Extinction is not really surprising if I’m honest. What else can you expect from privileged left wing ‘I-know-better-than-you-ers’, who strut around believing they are saviours of humanity, bathing in the golden light of virtue-signalling, constantly assuming that they have the right to dictate to average people how to live their lives without considering the minutiæ of detail required when attempting large-scale reforms. These reforms reforms require the boring administrative aspects and cannot simply come about through banging a couple of drums in Westminster, or carrying a placard saying ‘capitalism is costing the Earth’ whilst atonally singing ‘We Shall Overcome’.
If this was not bad enough, the sheer hypocrisy of many in Extinction’s high-ranking echelons would be. The seemingly anti-Semitic Robin Boardman-Pattison preaches that air travel must only be used in emergencies. Yet take a scroll back through his Instagram and you will find pictures of this incredibly middle-class millennial jetting off to enjoy not one, not two, but three skiing holidays in the past 2 years. Another campaigner, Emma Thompson, who as an actress and philanthropist I believe is phenomenal, took a plane from Los Angeles to London to stand on top of a pink boat and lecture us about our carbon footprint. She didn’t even fly economy class! This simply evidences how the Extinction rebellion has acted as a breeding ground for some of the most middle-class, privileged and pious activists to preach from their ‘holier than thou’ position.
Therefore, my perspective is that I don’t want to stop Extinction Rebellion. I am grateful that people, unlike those I have described, are participating for the issues, not simply as a springboard for their own ambitions, fame and to make them feel good about themselves. My problem is with the left-wing leadership’s pretence that they are anything but far left ideologues who hate people like me. I even went vegetarian to be more environmental! There’s no pleasing some people...