extinction rebellion vs murdoch

The night of Friday 4th September saw an audacious action, where XR activists in Broxbourne and Liverpool blockaded printers, stopping The Sun, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Times from reaching newsstands all over the country. It catapulted this rebellion to the forefront of the news for the first time. Bulletins featured the story prominently, and at one point it was trending at number 1 on Twitter. And then we saw the backlash. It was always going to come. And our actions were always going to be labelled as “an attack on the free press.”

Let’s be clear – it was nothing of the kind. This wasn’t targeted at the Fourth Estate per se. It was targeted at the Murdoch media empire. All we in XR have ever asked of the media is that it tells truth about the climate and ecological emergency. But the Murdoch machine has promoted climate denier Andrew Bolt in Australia. It constantly cast doubt on global heating playing a role in the recent wildfires in that country, instead pedalling spurious theories about arson. (Rupert Murdoch’s own son has gone on record criticising this.) In the UK, Murdoch papers have relentlessly backed fracking in the face of opposition from scientists and the public. And in the US, Fox News last year used 86% of its reports on climate change to promote climate denial. This is just a fraction of the fictions it has spun, the damage it has done. There are many, many more examples.

This is what we’re up against. This is at the heart of the battle. To get these hugely powerful vested interests to finally start telling the truth. In times as dark as these, we need a free press more than ever. Unfortunately we don’t have one.

Free The Truth.

Procession for the planet – a statement

We’ve seen quite a lot of comment on various social media platforms about Saturday’s Procession for the Planet in Lewes. While the overwhelming majority of the comments have been supportive, we felt it important to address a couple of issues.

Firstly, concerns about Saturday’s march being an illegal gathering. We’re pleased to confirm that this is definitely NOT the case – we’ve spoken with the local police and they have confirmed they do not view it as such, provided we observe social distancing. While we feel it’s essential to keep protesting even during these unprecedented times, due to continued government inaction on the climate and environmental emergency, we’re acutely aware of the need to do so in a responsible and safe manner.

Secondly, we’d like to explain why we’re staging a funeral-procession type event at a time when people are dying from a terrible disease, and relatives have been unable to attend funerals. Experts broadly agree that Covid-19 is likely to have spread from animals to people as a result of human activity, as agriculture, forestry, mining and oil push into previously unpopulated areas, destroying animals’ natural habitats and bringing them into proximity with us. If we don’t change our behaviour we’re very likely to see new – and potentially worse – pandemics in future. This march is a tribute to the millions who have lost their lives as a result of the Emergency – be that through disease, dirty air, wildfires, storms or some other event – the billions of other living creatures that have died (1bn animals in the recent Australian wildfires), and a lament for the Earth itself.

We were very pleased that the vast majority of commenters agreed with Extinction Rebellion’s aims. It’s our methods, specifically civil disobedience, that seem of concern to some. To those who disagree with our methods we say; none of us want to rebel. We’ve all voted, petitioned, lobbied and marched, and none of this has worked. The case for rebellion is stronger than ever. Despite fine words of building back better and greener, the UK Government’s post-Covid environmental spending pledges currently stand at £3bn. This is so inadequate it’s being challenged in the courts. Until we see the sort of concerted political action required to address the Emergency, we feel we have no choice but to continue.

Finally, we were delighted to see a lot of constructive comments and suggestions. Rest assured we’ll be reflecting on all of these. We’re far from perfect, because we’re only human; we’ve made mistakes and will continue to do so, but we want to ensure we learn from them, and we truly value input and criticism from people outside our movement. If anyone would like to contact us directly with thoughts, you’re very welcome to email them to us on xrlewes@gmail.com – if they’re constructive, informed and a genuine attempt to engage with us, we promise we’ll reply!

A plea for thought!

Dear friend,

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a thinker.  One of the things you think about is the damage we’re wreaking on the world we inhabit. Perhaps you’ve been actively involved with Extinction Rebellion, in Lewes or London or somewhere else. Perhaps you’ve been supporting us in other ways. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about getting involved, or you’re just visiting our website out of curiosity.

At a time like this there’s so much more to think about. The dreadful death count. The fear for your loved ones. The sheer, unprecedented scale of it. The huge, deeply unsettling uncertainties. The changes in your own life, and in society; the way the disease has laid bare the systemic shortcomings and inequalities and injustices. And the positives. Communities coming together.  People supporting one another. Less traffic. Fewer planes. The spring unfolding around us. Nature having a breather. What to make of it all?

It’s hard to know what to think – and yet at such a time thinking becomes even more important. And so this is a plea for thought. We’ve been inspired by the wonderful art gallery our Creative team has put together by sourcing art from our members – if you haven’t seen it, visit http://xrlewes.org/art-gallery/ – and we’d like to do something similar on our website for the written word. So, please share your thoughts with us! They can be in any form you choose – a poem, or an essay, a piece of creative writing, a lockdown diary or an idea for an action or an idea for societal change or a joke. We aren’t being proscriptive!

For surely now, sharing our thoughts with one another is one of the best things we can do. As a way of therapy, of helping each other to deal with the terrible stress of it all, and also so that new ideas might emerge – ideas that may just help us to build something positive, so that out of this tragedy we might create a better world, with climate justice at the heart of it.

Please email us at xrlewes@gmail.com

Love and hope,
XR Lewes Central