Standing Up To Chaos | Sajan Suganth

On Friday, to the chagrin of all sensible people in this country, Extinction Rebellion resumed last year’s protests. Demonstrations in London saw protestors blocking roads and stopping cars. Perhaps most egregious of all, demonstrators prevented ambulances from reaching a nearby hospital. This behaviour is unlikely to endear Extinction Rebellion-or its cause-to the British public. In 2019, 54% of Brits opposed the XR protests, and it would not be surprising to see that number rise now. Furthermore, compared to last year’s protests, observers have noted fewer members in attendance. Opponents of Extinction Rebellion, like myself, may find comfort in the organisation’s unpopularity; to adopt such an attitude would be to make the fatal mistake that our opinions matter.

To prove my point, consider the fact that police stood idly by as protestors brought traffic in the centre of London to a standstill. I am not supremely familiar with police procedure, but I fail to see how a water cannon-properly utilised-would not have prevented this outcome. Perhaps the non-intervention had a strategic reason. In this case, the police may need to re-examine a strategy that allows for the halting of ambulances. Similarly, on Friday night, XR activists prevented the publication of several major right-leaning newspapers, including The Telegraph, The Sun and The Times. In 1986, by contrast, 5,000 print workers could not block distribution of the Sunday Times. Despite their rhetoric, the Conservative government, with its 80-seat majority, was unable to stand up to the mob, to protect the rights of its citizenry.

Our police are reluctant to arrest criminals and our culture refuses to stigmatise agitators. The day before XR blockaded the printing press of the London Evening Standard, the newspaper published an opinion piece from Gail Bradbrook (the organisation’s co-founder) entitled: ‘Roof spikes and the noble art of window-smashing.’ Extinction Rebellion is not subtle about its aims; the website of the organisation does not offer policy suggestions-instead, it makes demands. Extinction Rebellion founder Roger Hallam said MPs and business owners ‘should have a bullet put through their heads’. Unlike Black Lives Matter, the organisation does not even have an agreeable name. In a sane world, major newspapers would blacklist Extinction Rebellion-the group would remain firmly outside the scope of our political discourse. In our world, MP Diane Abbott praises the group and likens them to suffragettes. Culturally and legally, our institutions must stand up to this madness. If they seek to justify, excuse and facilitate the criminal behaviour of radicals, there is no reason to believe that the disruption will end. Instead, activists will be encouraged by appeasement and become progressively more violent.

Extinction Rebellion refers to its brand of mob rule as ‘direct action.’Do not be surprised if this method of activism become more commonplace; this is the cost of moral cowardice in the face of chaos.

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