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Establishment & media sympathize with Greta’s ‘Fridays for Future’ movement… So how is that a ‘protest’ exactly?

Establishment & media sympathize with Greta’s ‘Fridays for Future’ movement… So how is that a ‘protest’ exactly?
As hundreds of thousands of people – many of them schoolchildren – take to the streets in another demonstration over climate change, one must wonder: at what point does protest become the status quo?

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s solo school walkout last August was little more than a sideshow to newspaper editors and TV crews. But the teenage crusader’s ‘school strike’ snowballed, and the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement grew. 

Now, after an emotional speech by Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday, hundreds of thousands of climate strikers worldwide are packing the streets on Friday, demanding their governments declare a state of emergency, slash carbon emissions, penalize meat-eating and kill the car, to pick but a few of their proposals.

But these radicals – as they would have been called not so long ago – aren’t being met by the batons, tear gas and rubber bullets the state usually deploys to quash dissent (not that any peaceful demonstrations should be). Media outlets aren’t smearing those within their ranks as racists and downplaying attendance numbers, and the crowds occupying city streets aren’t risking injury and mutilation to do so.

The very idea of ‘protest’ implies some resistance, some injustice of state to be overcome. Climate protesters would argue that not enough is being done to heal our heating earth – and that’s a debate beyond the scope of this article – but government, media, and the world’s power brokers have aided Thunberg and co’s protest movement at every step of the way.

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France’s ‘Yellow Vests’ protests began in opposition to a fossil fuel tax hike, and were met with all of the violence described above on a weekly basis. Thunberg, in contrast, was invited to address the French parliament in July. Likewise with her appearances at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, her speeches before British parliament and the US Congress, and her most recent UN appearance. On every occasion, the world’s political leaders rolled out the red carpet and held the door open for her to lecture them.

Media coverage of Thunberg and the climate protests has been overwhelmingly favorable - with The Guardian comparing her speech on Monday to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address for its historical significance, and New York Magazine calling her “the Joan of Arc of climate change.” The Yellow Vests, to continue the comparison, were described as a rabble of anti-semites and “notorious Holocaust deniers,” based on the actions of a tiny minority of protesters.

The school strikers and climate crusaders enjoy blanket support. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money, and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” Thunberg scolded leaders on Monday. However, even the world’s corporations have jumped on board the eco bandwagon, ever keen to virtue-signal their way to a few more dollars, even if their own green credentials are suspect at best.

If the protests are being framed as a David and Goliath story of children speaking truth to power and taking on the elite, why do the elite support them so wholeheartedly? An optimist would say that these leaders finally see the need for urgent climate action. After all, public outcry over the hole in the ozone layer in the 1980s led to the adoption of a landmark chemicals ban in 1987, and three decades later, NASA revealed proof last year that the ozone layer is recovering.

A cynic would argue that the upper echelons stand to benefit in some way. And that’s true too. Several conglomerates of the world’s leading financial institutions, backed by neoliberal think tanks like the Atlantic Council, have already expressed interest in getting their hands on public funds to finance green industry ventures, particularly in the developing world. What some call a crisis, they call the climate opportunity.”

Addressing climate change too presents control-freak politicians with boundless opportunity to push otherwise unpalatable legislation. More than 100 US Lawmakers in Congress support the ‘Green New Deal.’ Among them are a handful of presidential candidates and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the hotshot New York Congresswoman who welcomed Thunberg to the city last month following her carbon-neutral Atlantic crossing.

As well as measures to wean the US off fossil fuels and replace airplane and car travel with greener alternatives, Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal legislation comes bundled with a progressive wishlist of universal health care, minimum wage hikes, wealth redistribution, and government control of industry – traditionally anathema to American voters. All of this calls for higher taxes, and an expansion of federal government power.

Whether out of self-interest or benevolence, the climate protest movement enjoys the support of the elite, and taking Friday off school to demonstrate is about as safe as protest gets. Skipping school would normally earn truants a clip about the ears or a stern talking-to, but more and more teachers are getting on board with the strikes, and encouraging their students to take part.

When I was a teenager, we weren’t given the day off to protest the invasion of Iraq. Instead, we snuck off, changed into our baggy jeans and hoodies, and hopped on a bus to government buildings. Protest felt transgressive and anti-establishment.

Protest on a day off. Deny your parents and their generation the only meaningful chance in a busy week to spend some time with you. After all, as Thunberg said, adults have “stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” 

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A protest stops being a protest when it’s pro-establishment. Once it reaches that tipping point, people begin to probe deeper and doubt the intentions of the protesters,and corporate support is a death knell for authenticity. 

Most people who complain about climate protesters don’t hate Greta Thunberg for who she is. They just don’t like being browbeaten into thinking a certain way by the combined forces of activists, corporations, the media and the state, no matter how right or wrong that way is.

By Graham Dockery, RT

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