More craziness: Attempting to destroy priceless art in the name of climate change

We’ve been seeing quite a few instances of a rather disgusting trend in climate protesting lately. It’s apparently become fashionable on the left to go to museums and smear food of various sorts on classic, priceless works of art because that will apparently reduce the artwork’s carbon footprint or something. Some idiots smeared cake on the Mona Lisa this spring and some copycats threw soup on Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” this month at the National Gallery in London. Most recently, a vandal covered in what appeared to be tomato soup tried to glue himself to Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” in The Hague. Why? Because he and his partner wanted to “just stop oil.” 

All of this activity prompted Leila Sackur at NBC News to ponder the efficacy of these tactics. Sure, we all want to put an end to the use of fossil fuels, even if it means that significant portions of the population in Europe may freeze to death this winter, right? But is this really the way to go about it? I mean, are you really winning over hearts and minds by destroying artwork that has lasted for centuries and draws visitors from around the world every year? It’s a real puzzler, to be sure.

From cake smeared over the “Mona Lisa” to soup splashed over “Sunflowers,” recent climate protests at art galleries have grabbed international headlines but also raise questions about the effectiveness of these high-profile guerrilla tactics.

Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” was the latest painting to fall victim to art-based activism, which has seen environmental campaigners target famous artworks, almost always with cheap food products, to draw attention to the usage of fossil fuels.

Two men wearing “Just Stop Oil” T-shirts jumped the rope separating the priceless 1665 Dutch masterpiece from the public at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague on Thursday. A video posted on Twitter showed one of them pouring a can of a red substance over the other, who then appeared to attempt to glue his head to the glass-protected painting.

One climate activist that Sackur spoke to seemed to admit that the tactic is “radical and disruptive,” but probably not a good long-term strategy. ” It’s “not part of a long-term, coherent strategy for building communities and power,” he said.

Ya think? When people protest something, they would traditionally do so in a way that draws attention to a problem people may not have been engaged in and try to convince them to get involved. Who in their right mind thinks that destroying works of art will produce that sort of result?

This is no different than the recent rounds of “milk pouring” that’s been seen in the United Kingdom. Those room-temperature IQ protesters were clearly achieving similar results. They also wanted to end climate change, but instead of oil and coal, they want to get rid of all of the cows because they keep farting or something. But what they really did was create a huge mess in the stores that people would have to walk through or around while they waited for the clerks to just bring more milk out from the back.

The point is, if the chief tactic you employ in your protest is obviously going to make witnesses to your protest angry with you, they are less likely to align with your cause, not more likely. If you go out and organize a march with signs and banners and slogans, you’re hoping that the public will learn of the issue you are protesting. If you get the proper permits and stay on the sidewalks or in a park, you may indeed attract some new sympathizers. But if you crash through some fences and shut down entire freeways during rush hour or block access to an airport (as BLM has done more times than we can count), the people you prevent from making it to work, home, or to their vacation, are likely going to remember you as a pack of dangerous jerks and flip a middle finger to your “cause.”

And yet, NBC managed to find one activist who praised this sort of action. He cited the slashing of the painting “Rokeby Venus” in London by a women’s rights activist in 1914 as “a moment of iconoclastic protest.” Let’s pause to take a quick poll of the readership for a moment. How many of you had ever heard of the “Rokeby Venus” before just now and how many can name the woman who carved it up? For the record, I had to Google it.

If this is how people want to protest, so be it. But when your protests violate the law and/or become destructive, you need to be locked up. That’s not too much of a sacrifice for you to make in the interest of saving the planet, right? And with luck, you’ll make all sorts of new friends in prison who might want to protest with you when you get out. 

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