A senior employee at Airbus Germany has lashed out at Extinction Rebellion this week, prompting the company to publish an official apology as a result. Alexander Reinhardt is the head of public affairs in Germany and published a series of tweets attacking the environmental activist group over the course of Monday.
The tweets have since been deleted and the employee’s account has been ‘modified’ to make clear that any published viewpoints are his own and not that of the company’s. However, Extinction Rebellion supporters had already screenshotted the exchange, and have been sharing away ever since.
The Airbus tweetstorm
The situation kicked off on Monday, when a tweet from an account claiming to belong to the head of public affairs in Germany, Reinhardt, told Germany’s Extinction Rebellion (XR) to keep out of his way. XR shared the tweet, along with the message:
The head of public relations of @Airbus Germany has threatened #ExtinctionRebellion not to get in the way of him. With five exclamation marks.
— XR Team K (@x_rtk) October 13, 2019
Before launching a counterattack, XR did a bit of digging to make sure the Reinhardt account was, in fact, a genuine account. In a further tweet, they said,
“We then made sure that Sascha is not a troll account. But no, on the # Airbus homepage he is actually listed as “Head of Public Affairs”. #ExtinctionRebellion is now a public affair of @Airbus?”
Wir haben uns dann erst mal vergewissert, dass Sascha kein Trollaccount ist. Aber nein, auf der #Airbus-Homepage ist tatsächlich als “Head of Public Affairs” aufgeführt. Ist #ExtinctionRebellion jetzt eine Public Affair von @Airbus? pic.twitter.com/g7WdKnEbCw
— XR Team K (@x_rtk) October 13, 2019
Numerous other tweets continued in the thread, in which Reinhardt made some pretty scathing remarks about XR, about activists and about left-wing politics in general. In one, he said,
“Seriously, bring something constructive to society and do something for our country instead of stupid blockades to factories. Note: talking helps. Pressure creates negative pressure. Do you still have to learn?”
Later, he added,
“I can not understand. They keep citizens from doing their jobs over some morals to others. Your unemployment pay will pay! What benefit this brings to my family, they have to explain in fact…. “What they do is the antithesis to solidarity.”
XR called upon Airbus to add some clarity to the situation. In a tweet, they called out to the European manufacturer saying,
“We now ask ourselves: Share @Airbus the threats and judgments made to us by their Head of Public Affairs? How did #Airbus agree with their commitment to environmental and climate protection? We would be very happy about an answer.”
Airbus did provide an answer, in the form of deleting all of the tweets and issuing an apology on its public channels.
Airbus wishes to clarify that the content expressed & language used by one of its employees over the weekend via Twitter re. Extinction Rebellion was inappropriate & does not represent the company’s opinion.
— Airbus PRESS (@AirbusPRESS) October 14, 2019
Since the tweets were deleted, Reinhardt’s Twitter account has been led with the following message:
Der gelöschte Tweetverlauf hatte nichts mit #Airbus zu tun, sondern mit privater Sorge vor dem Entzug von staatsbürgerlicher Freiheit durch eine nichtstaatliche Organisation. Für die Tonalität entschuldige ich mich. Das Profil des Accounts ist entsprechend angepasst.
— Alexander Reinhardt (@ReinhardtSascha) October 14, 2019
Roughly translated this says,
“The deleted tweet history had nothing in common [with] #Airbus but with private concern about the deprivation of civic liberty by a non-governmental organization. I apologize for the tonality. The profile of the account is adjusted accordingly.”
Indeed, the header of the account now states that views are his own, indicating Airbus should not be responsible for anything he says.
What do you think about what Reinhardt said? Is he within his rights to speak his mind or should an Airbus exec be held to a higher standard than this? Let us know in the comments.