A solid hit during the 2011 Super Bowl commercial line-up, Volkswagen’s Darth Vader ad for the new Passat has given the activists over at Greenpeace a clever idea. Since VW is acting all Dark Side about the upcoming, stringent CAFE requirements (at least, this is one way to read the situation; another is the way VW sees it, which is that the U.S. is creating rules that assist the domestic automakers while not being fair to diesel vehicles), why not take the whole thing a step further and make VW like the Empire?
Following up on Greenpeace’s VW Dark Side video, a group of UK Greenpeacers dressed as Imperial Stormtroopers were in the street to greet executives from the auto industry before a recent meeting of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (Acea) in Brussels, Belgium.
A clever idea? Well, let’s see. You have “stormtroopers” laying siege to a German company in Europe with demands that they capitulate to the environmental demands of a totalitarian government. Hmm…that sounds vaguely familiar, as if perhaps we’ve seen something very much like this happen before. Stormtroopers. Germany. A party dedicated to draconian environmental rules pushed by a controlling central government. I almost have it.
Oh, wait, I remember now! These guys!
They are the Sturm Abteilung, the shock troops Adolph Hitler used to clear the field of any fascist, socialist, and communist opposition on his left so he could sweep into power. We know them better as the Nazi’s stormtroopers or by their more popular name “Brownshirts”. They became obsolete in 1934 when Hitler became Chancellor and gained control of the army and the SS, so he knocked off the SA’s leader Ernst Röhm during the Night of the Long Knives and the stormtroopers faded mostly into irrelevancy.
Volkswagen, by the way, was originally founded by the Nazi trade union, the German Labour Front. Its first vehicle was an inexpensive “people’s car” that was designed to be both small and very fuel-efficient, built by a government-backed manufacturer and marketed with government money. Few if any of the cars ever made it to the Germans who had purchased them though the program into which hundreds of thousands of them had paid. If any of that sounds familiar to you, well, then you know more about history than Greenpeace does.
Of course I don’t mean to say that Greenpeace is a Nazi organization nor that anyone in charge of this harebrained scheme wants to conquer Europe and take another shot at a worldwide Reich. On the other hand, marching stormtroopers to the headquarters of a company founded by the National Socialists’ and demanding that they embrace your specific brand of socialism it not even close to the smartest way to get your message out.