On Nov. 6, 2023, members of the British eco-extremist group Just Stop Oil, attacked a celebrated oil painting hanging in the National Gallery in London.
Two vandals wearing Just Stop Oil t-shirts, approached the masterpiece and began pounding it with hammers, shattering its protective glass covering. The artwork, Venus at her Mirror, was created by famed Spanish artist Diego Velázquez (1599-1660). The painting became known as the Rokeby Venus in the UK, when scholar John Morrit purchased it in 1813 for his Rokeby Park home in Yorkshire.
The Metropolitan Police arrived and arrested the two. They have been charged with “criminal damage.” The museum closed the gallery where the national treasure was located, and removed the framed artwork from display so that damage could be evaluated.
According to the New York Crimes, a museum spokeswoman said “minimal damage has been sustained to the surface of the painting.” The canvas, originally painted around 1647, is now undergoing conservation work. The financial cost of repairing the painting and the time needed for its restoration, are not presently known.
A young man named Harrison Donnelly, 20, and a young female named Hanan Ameur, 22, are the members of Just Stop Oil responsible for the vandalism. When they were swinging their hammers, museum staff had cleared the gallery and simultaneously called the Metropolitan Police.
After the pillagers punched 10 holes in the painting’s shielding, they sat on the floor in front of the damaged artwork. That’s when they began a harangue on the impending end of the world. The apocalypse will commence… they insisted, if the production and use of fossil fuels doesn’t cease immediately. To quote Hanan’s sermonizing:
“Over 100 years ago, the suffragette Mary Richardson attacked the Rokeby Venus portrait for the unjust imprisonment of Emmeline Pankhurst. Today I have used similar methods in the fight for climate justice. As a kid I saw myself growing up to be an astronaut or a singer. I saw a future, however ridiculous it was. Now, those day-dreams have ended. The future we are heading for doesn’t allow space for them anymore.”
While Hanan praised suffragette Mary Richardson, she left out an “inconvenient truth.” Mary Richardson, who in 1914 was dubbed Slasher Mary by the British press for having cut up the Velázquez painting with a meat cleaver, became in 1933 a member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF).
Yes, that’s right… Mary Richardson became a Nazi, and by 1934 ‘ol Slasher Mary was promoted to the position of Chief Organizer of the Women’s Section of the Hitler loving BUF. I will let readers try and imagine why Just Stop Oil picked a bona fide fascist as someone to be idolized and emulated.
Poor Hammer Hanan, she can’t become an astronaut! It’s odd though. Communist China launched their “Long March” spaceship on Oct. 26, 2023. It carried a crew of the youngest-ever astronauts. The 3 man team had an average age of 38, but the youngest member was Tang Shengjie, 33. I’ll tell you what else is odd. The BBC reported that Red China “emits more greenhouse gas than the entire developed world combined,” and yet… Just Stop Oil has never held a protest against the state-run companies of China. According to Bloomberg, those companies are “the world’s top source of new emissions.”
Just Stop Oil might want to protest China’s dominant contribution to climate change. They could visit the National Art Museum of China located in Beijing to pour the contents of a few soup cans onto historic paintings. However, the Chinese Communist Party will likely not appreciate their brand of art criticism. They’ll find themselves locked-up in Qincheng Prison for political prisoners, where REAL activists like the participants of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 still languish. But I doubt Just Stop Oil members would know what to say to them.
As for Harrison Donnelly, Hanan’s partner in crime, he soliloquized:
“Emmeline Pankhurst said: you have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else. The suffragettes are proof these methods work to achieve social change. That is why we have taken this action today. New oil will destroy everything we love. I do not want to be here, but I cannot continue to see this government fail all of us.”
Harrison Bergeron, er, I mean… Harrison and Hanan, certainly have a fixation on the suffragettes Mary Richardson and Emmeline Pankhurst. However, their obsession reveals a stratagem. Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903. The women-only organization soon became known for a militant “direct action” crusade aimed at winning the vote for women.
The philosophy of the WSPU was “deeds not words.” In the beginning their actions were violent but not excessively so; they shouted abuses at elected officials, broke shop windows, and assaulted police. The WSPU escalated their campaign by vandalizing art and ransacking art museums. Eventually they carried out arson attacks, mailed letter bombs, and conducted a blitz of destructive bombings. Emmeline Pankhurst referred to this strategy as a “reign of terror.”
In 1913 the British government placed Emmeline Pankhurst under arrest for bombing the home of future Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. During her trial, Pankhurst took credit for blowing up the home. On April 3, 1913 she was sentenced to three years in prison. The next day a Suffragette bomb was placed outside the Bank of England headquarters in London; many arson and bombing attacks followed.
It’s disquieting that Venus at her Mirror was lacerated in London’s National Gallery by Slasher Mary in 1914, in hopes of drawing attention to Pankhurst being behind bars. It’s even more distressing that Just Stop Oil would be so inspired by the slicing away at the Velázquez painting with a meat cleaver, that they would decide to adopt the same tactic in the 21st century.
Just Stop Oil clearly copied the suffragette stratagem of despoiling art. They trumpet solidarity with Slasher Mary the Nazi. Hanan proudly declared, “I have used similar methods in the fight for climate justice.” If Just Stop Oil and other climate cultists have embraced the incremental violence once used by the WSPU, is it not reasonable to assume they will ultimately embrace the “reign of terror” launched by Emmeline Pankhurst?
Just for ravaging Diego Velázquez’s masterwork, museums should cripple Just Stop Oil with lawsuits and punishing fines until they are completely non-functional as an organization.
Eerily enough, the current targeting of the Velázquez canvas was foretold in The Eco-Extremist War on Art, an essay I wrote in Sept. of 2022 that presented a listing of attacks on artworks and museums carried out that year by various climate-alarmist groups. At article’s end I documented Just Stop Oil urging the destruction of art. They tweeted on July 8, 2022: “The Suffragettes slashed paintings for the right to vote.”
They illustrated their statement with a black and white, 1914 photo of the Velázquez canvas slashed to bits that year by Mary Richardson. Evidently Just Stop Oil made their dreams of ruination come true. The individual who said “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” was never exposed to the lousy “poetry in action” of Just Stop Oil.
The corporate media, including publications that deal exclusively with the world of fine art, are unfortunately in the habit of labeling Just Stop Oil and other climate-alarmist groups as “protestors,” or “climate change activists.” They are neither.
They are a narcissistic clique of Cassandras, doomsayers, and vandals—whose actions and tactics have alienated the great majority of everyday people… something that has been nothing short of disastrous for authentic and rational environmentalists.