In or around 1212, according to legend, bands of children from northern Europe led by a boy Stephen of Cloyes who claimed to have had a vision instructing him to march across the Alps into Saracen lands and convert Muslims to Christianity formed the Children’s Crusade.
The children – some accounts put them as teenagers from very poor, rural families – starting off in France, or in other accounts, under the guidance of boy from Germany named Nicholas – were tricked into embarking on ships, having been offered free passage by men who were, in fact, slave traders.
The enterprise ended in misery for the children, with many sold into servitude in the slave markets in Tunisia and others shipwrecked and drowned before setting foot in their destination of Jerusalem.
We now see more Children’s Crusades occurring, this time in favour of climate change, not Christianity, led by children clearly being manipulated by people behind the scenes; Greta Thunberg from Sweden and now, in Australia, 12-year-old “Lucie”, who, on behalf of activist group GetUp! has been sending out emails for $12 donations to fund television advertising promoting next Friday’s school climate strike.
‘Lucie” (is that even her real name, or was ‘Lucie’ chosen as being more empathic to middle-class donors and the Zali Steggall brigade than Cheyenne or Brianna ?) penned charmingly touching prose: ‘GetUp! are helping me make a big TV ad and we also want to put up lots of other ads to help get adults out on the streets with us. Show your support for climate strikers by chipping in $12 to help make this the biggest one ever.”
And “Lucie” goes on, pleadingly, “I don’t want to live in a world where the Great Barrier Reef is just a memory. No more Nemo and Dory. And I really don’t want to spend my whole life cleaning up the mistakes of leaders like Scott Morrison and Matt Canavan.”
First, as any parent or grandparent would deduce, these are not the words of a 12-year-old girl. “Chipping in $12” is the sort of thing seen on the constant pleas for money on the Guardian website.
If “Lucie” had said, “Please give me some money”, she might have been more believable.
GetUp! is surely guilty of using a 12-year-old to make money by frightening other children and their weak-willed parents.
It’s not the fate that befell the children of 1212 but slavery of a different kind; emotional slavery, just as exploitative and contemptible as any other kind.
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