Greenpeace is an organization with laudable goals. Thomas Jefferson would certainly have agreed with them that climate change is a serious concern, that the world's forests need to be preserved, that overfishing needs to be prevented, and that nuclear weapons need to be abolished. But Jefferson would have considered their tactics silly and counterproductive, and would therefore likely have dismissed the organization as mostly useless.
Their latest escapade neatly illustrates this point. A group of Greenpeace activists has apparently infiltrated Mount Rushmore and unfurled a large banner calling on President Obama to be more pro-active in fighting climate change. This is not only illegal and dangerous, but it reduces the members of Greenpeace in the eyes of the public from the status of activists to the level of clowns.
What possible good has this stunt achieved? Does Greenpeace seriously think that President Obama will hear this news and therefore decide to increase his efforts against climate change? If so, they are deluded. And did it not occur to Greenpeace that President Obama already has a very strong position against climate change? The only result this action might have on President Obama is to make him irritated at Greenpeace.
Greenpeace is far from alone. Almost every time the G8 meets, and whenever the Republicans and Democrats hold their election year conventions, they are confronted by a bizarre army of costumed clowns, waving banners and engaging in rather pointless forms of what is euphemistically called "protest". Not surprisingly, these activities have absolutely no bearing on the policies of the leaders who are ostensibly the subject of the protest.
The powers-that-be that these protesters rail against are never particularly bothered by this odd form of protest, because they recognize that it does no good and hence does not represent a threat to their interests. Indeed, they would be delighted if all activists focused their time and energy on stunts like this, because then they wouldn't be engaging in activities that might bring about actual changes to the status quo.
Imagine if these demonstrators took all the time, money and energy they have invested in these protests, and spent them instead on helping congressional or state legislative candidates with policy positions of which they approved. Or spent them on organizing efforts to establish community gardens, thus increasing their freedom from agribusiness corporations. Or any other activity which might actually result in positive, concrete results?
The behavior of Greenpeace is absurd and irrational. 21st Century Jeffersonians would be well-advised not to follow their example.