That escalated quickly: German car fan page starts environmental debate… then Greta-hating crowd NUKES it with dark jokes
Whatever reaction the supporters of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg expected from her UN tour and speech, it seems that it’s become more difficult to hold a civilized climate change debate – even on German Facebook.
Home of the iconic Nurburgring racetrack, thousands of kilometers or pristine autobahn, and megafactories that produce thrumming masterpieces of diesel engines, Germany is Europe’s automotive mecca. But it’s also a liberal country where talk of climate change is taken seriously and ecological guilt reigns.
Amid these brewing tensions, car fans who see their passion under threat from the environmental lobby banded together this week on a Facebook group entitled ‘Fridays for Displacement,’ a play on the ‘Fridays for Future’ school strike movement started by Thunberg last year.
“Climate change has existed throughout the Earth’s history,” reads the group description. “We can not save the world at the expense of thousands of jobs in Germany.”
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Since its launch on Sunday, the group had picked up nearly 400,000 members. By contrast, ‘Fridays for Future’ has only 75,000 likes on Facebook.
Coming in the wake of the grand western tour of the teenage, doomsday-warning, UN-shaming activist Greta Thunberg, the group’s founding was quickly seen as part of the global backlash.
Although the group’s members started off venting at the anti-car lobby and joking that they should “plant some trees” instead, things quickly took a darker turn, with Thunberg becoming the focus of their anger. According to the German tabloid Bild, members joked about running Thunberg over in electric cars, threatened her with weapons, depicted her shot by a cartoon Santa Claus, and compared her to Adolf Hitler.
Obwohl wir gedacht haben, alles schon gesehen zu haben, nimmt die #Hetze gegen #GretaThunberg mit der FB-Gruppe „Fridays for Hubraum“ neue Dimensionen an. Innerhalb kürzester Zeit hat die Gruppe nun fast 300.000 Mitglieder. Ob so eine Gruppe kontrollierbar ist, sieht man hier.1/3 pic.twitter.com/XDWc18SffM
— DieInsider (@Die_Insider) September 25, 2019
Moderator Chris Grau, a car tuner, took the group offline on Thursday in response. In a video statement on his own Facebook page, he announced that the group would now be private, and Greta-bashing would not be tolerated.
“if you compare Greta with Hitler, that will not work,” he said. “Please leave this girl alone.”
According to a Pew Research poll published earlier this year, 71 percent of Germans see climate change as the number one threat to their country, ahead of terrorism, cyberattacks, and the fluctuations of the global economy. However, resistance from car enthusiasts has been building, with some motorists even seen plastering “F**k you Greta” bumper stickers on their cars.
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Though Grau has pleaded for calm in his Facebook group, a slew of similarly named groups and pages have sprung up since the original went private on Thursday, and their moderators are unlikely to go to the same lengths to keep things clean.
Thunberg, who has repeatedly insisted that the climate change rhetoric she’s pushing “is not about me,” but rather about the work of researchers she’s citing, could neither escape deification, nor demonization over her doomsday crusade. If the “orderly” German social media is any indication, the internet is increasingly becoming a battlefield of equally fervent “believers” and “deniers.” Whether you believe in man-made global warming or not, there is no denying the debate has taken a sharp turn toward radical flame wars.
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