Why We Had Reason to Believe Greta When She Said She Wants to 'Put World Leaders Against the Wall'

By now, most readers will be familiar with climate Muppet moppet Greta Thunberg, who famously said that "we will put world leaders against the wall" at a recent public demonstration in Turin Italy.

That's my reply tweet suggesting that when she starts calling for the execution of world leaders who don't fall in line, her "I'm just a kid" card is canceled.

This caused, as you might imagine, some consternation, mostly from people saying "THAT'S NOT WHAT SHE MEANT!!11!!!"

Greta's own explanation was that the phrase in Swedish just means "held accountable," and I had an extended conversation with someone who didn't believe it had anything to do with executions — until I mentioned firing squads. She then insisted firing squads were just an American thing until I noted a number of famous firing squad executions under Napoleon. (She then accused me of being monolingual, so I answered her in Spanish, German, and Chinese. But that was probably because I'm not a nice person.)

I was hardly the only person to understand her as referring to firing squads; she eventually responded with:

and ...

I'm willing to accept the apology, and I can imagine she didn't know what the metaphor she was using implied — although I'd really like to see some convincing argument that "up against the wall" didn't refer to a firing squad when it was first used. (And to the English-speaking commenter who said it just meant "in a difficult situation," I've got to say, "yeah, being in front of a firing squad is a difficult situation.")

The last thing Thunberg said was:

I can not enough express the fact that I - as well as the entire school strike movement- are against any possible form of violence. It goes without saying but I say it anyway.

That's the part that I still have trouble with. See, it's not the first time war crimes trials and imprisonment or execution have been suggested by the alarmists.

In 2006, Grist suggested, in a review of George Monbiot's book Heat:

When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.

In 2008, famous ex-scientist James Hansen just wanted oil-company executives arrested and tried for crimes against humanity.

Just last August, High Country News published "speculative journalism" describing hunting down "84-year-old Stephen Brower, a former physician and Republican senator from Massachusetts who would later be convicted of crimes against the environment, specifically for 'denying and downplaying life-threatening climate change impacts for personal gain'" and the murder of Brower's family members.

That's the real point here: fantasies of trying, imprisoning, and even executing "climate deniers" aren't new or particularly uncommon.

There's no reason we should not have understood what Thunberg said as threatening execution.