The petulant protesters just won’t let up.
On Sunday, climate activists attempted to interrupt the Berlin Marathon by dumping orange paint on the race course and lying down in the middle of the road.
Weeks earlier, Climate Extinction protesters wearing shirts reading “End Fossil Fuels” screeched and hollered during a US Open match at Arthur Ashe stadium in Queens. One even glued his feet to the floor, stalling the match between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova for 50 minutes, thousands of paying spectators be damned.
And who can forget the viral soup-slingers who splattered Van Gogh’s iconic “Sunflowers” painting at the National Gallery last fall? Or the PETA protester — her mostly naked body painted with the words “Coach Leather Kills” — who crashed the brand’s runway show at New York Fashion Week in early September?
I’m actually sympathetic to her cause — so much so that I haven’t eaten meat since I was 14 — and yet I am embarrassed by her tactics. Imagine how many others whose minds could be changed were turned off completely.
Sure, these stunts get headlines … but for all the wrong reasons. Who in their right mind looks at a Van Gogh covered in tomato chunks and thinks, “Maybe I should listen to what the people who did that have to say!”
It’s also churlish to take the spotlight away from runners who trained for months and traveled around the world to compete in a marathon, or athletes who spent a lifetime working their way to the US Open.
But when these stunts meaningfully disrupt the day-to-day functioning of society — that’s simply inexcusable.
In late August, climate protesters in Washington, DC, sat cross-legged blocking traffic along Interstate 396, a multi-lane highway. Was anyone surprised when furious commuters emerged from their cars to snatch away signs and demand these people move?
“I want to go to work! I want to go to work,” one driver shouted.
“Ya’ll can find a better way to protest,” another chimed in. “Ya’ll holding me up”
“I have kids to feed, b—ch,” a woman shouted in the face of one stoic protester. “You don’t think we know the earth is f—king melting?”
And climate protesters in the United Kingdom went as far as blocking fire engines and ambulances from responding to emergencies last year — a move so egregious that even Greta Thunberg rightfully condemned them.
Disrupting innocent bystanders’ commute to work — or worse, their potentially life-saving ride in an ambulance — is absolutely unacceptable and entirely counterproductive.
I’m not alone in thinking these protests fail to change minds.
In fact, 46% of respondents said non-violent disruptive protests decrease their support for efforts to address climate change, and a mere 13% said they increase them.
A similar poll from Germany found that 83% of respondents felt climate protests had gone too far.
The West has a laudable history of protesting, from women’s suffrage to the Civil Rights Movement.
That heritage has led generation after generation to pick up the mantle of civil disobedience with righteousness — so much so that the organization behind the DC highway debacle took to X, formerly Twitter, to say as much.
“For us,” Declare Emergency organizers wrote, “this was a great way to honor the legacy of Dr. King and to carry on his tradition of disruptive, nonviolent civil disobedience!”
But not all protests are created equally.
As much as these self-righteous agitators might like to fashion themselves as the successors of Dr. King’s legacy, the truth is they aren’t. Having petulant meltdowns while dripping with glue and soup simply doesn’t have the same effect.