Greta Thunberg is a ruffian masquerading as a latter-day saint

Greta Thunberg arrives with other protesters at Westminster Magistrates Court in London
Greta Thunberg arrives with other protesters at Westminster Magistrates Court in London
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There’s no other way to say it: Greta Thunberg, the feted 21-year-old climate activist and two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, is a ruffian.

As she laughed mockingly at Westminster magistrates’ court last week, charged with a public order offence for disrupting a conference of oil executives at the InterContinental hotel on Park Lane last year, she wiped her eyes with insane jubilation. No doubt she was recalling fondly her troupe’s smoke flares or their deafening din of drums, or their refusal to budge even a few feet at the pleading of the police so that delegates could actually leave the hotel. The boorish swagger of the girl is a wonder to behold – and her acquittal will make her all the cockier.

A few years ago, when she began her path to worldwide fame and adulation as a pearlescent-skinned teenager, her passion for righteous awareness-raising evoked, among the generous at least, a modern-day Joan of Arc.

It was all a little over-zealous, a bit loony, but she was 17, and she was changing the conversation, albeit in a mixed direction, ennobling climate hysteria and malignant politicisation on the one hand, but on the other getting substantial numbers to rethink their use of plastics and fossil fuels. In Switzerland alone, according to a study from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, her legendary “school strikes for climate”, also known as Fridays for Future, resulted in a third of Swiss people changing their daily habits.

She always had a taste for spreading disruption, which, to a certain degree, goes with the territory. Thunberg began skipping school to protest climate change in 2018, and by 2019 Fridays for Future saw four million pupils around the world do the same.

The road from there to here is not all that hard to follow: most climate loonies diversify into a more explicit engagement with a wider constellation of nasty, connected ideas.

I once debated Roger Hallam, one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion, who was soon ranting to the Cambridge Union crowd about genocidal racism, apparently connecting what he saw as Western climate complacency with ongoing racialised exploitation on a grand scale. This is the crude idea behind “climate justice”, a centrepiece of the cod politics yelled by Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, Greenpeace and the rest of them. It means: “The West is evil, and everyone who hates it is good.”

No surprise then that Thunberg has devoted herself since October 7 to ostentatious support for the Palestinian cause. Her court appearance in London saw her wearing a big keffiyeh along with a bizarre T-shirt reading: “hide a refugee and if that becomes illegal hide too”. Since Hamas’s invasion of and massacre in Israel, the fate of trees seems to have gone by the wayside for Thunberg and her crew. Demonising Israel is fast becoming a full-time job.

Her boorishness has been on full display since she became a useful idiot for those who mean Israel harm. At a climate rally in Amsterdam in November, Thunberg’s 70,000-strong crowd chanted “Palestine will be free”.

Later, after she invited a Palestinian and an Afghan woman up on stage, a man jumped up and, briefly grabbing the microphone from Thunberg, said with total rectitude: “I came here for a climate demonstration, not a political view.” Thunberg got the mic back quickly, and ordered the man to “calm down”. After a brief pause she started chanting: “No climate justice on occupied land.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a professor of political theory to realise that this slogan makes absolutely no sense. Especially given that the only occupier of Gaza has been Hamas – which certainly doesn’t care about the climate – and in the parts of the West Bank that Thunberg and co get their knickers in such a twist over, it is Israel which does.

In fact, Thunberg was a fixture in Israeli schools’ learning materials until she began preaching “Free Gaza” after October 7, at which point she was deemed ineligible to be “an educational and moral role model”.

And slips of land as tiny as those Thunberg and friends demonise as “occupied” could never obstruct any mission to save the planet – they are irrelevant to the cause.

She doesn’t care. On January 26, as the International Court of Justice announced its judgment on South Africa’s false case against Israel, in which it accused it of genocide, old Greta was right there at the Hague protesting.

The case was an insulting finger-wag at a righteous war against an invasion by an evil enemy, but Thunberg was miffed that the court hadn’t actually concluded Israel was genocidal. And so she wrote online that: “Israel – as well as those who support Israel’s brutal attacks and occupation – must be held accountable for their actions. We cannot remain silent during a genocide.”

It’s not the first time a youth hailed as nobly focussed on the great cause of the day has revealed themselves in their true colours – the former surfer dude and tree hugger Jackson Hinkle, now a notorious “anti-Zionist” social media influencer, began as an exulted climate activist.

How many more celebrations of Palestinian “resistance”, how much more wrecking-ball behaviour, must we endure before people stop seeing these brave young climate warriors as saints and instead recognise them for what they are: loutish emissaries of a destructive creed?

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