Dutch historian Rutger Bregman's epic rant against the super-rich in front of the super-rich at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos has turned the 30-year-old into a viral social media star.
Bregman turned heads in Davos after saying he found the conference's mix of indulgence and its mission of global problem-solving puzzling.
“I mean 1,500 private jets have flown in here to hear Sir David Attenborough speak about how we’re wrecking the planet," Bregman said. "I hear people talking the language of participation and justice and equality and transparency. But then almost no one raises the real issue of tax avoidance. And of the rich just not paying their fair share. It feels like I’m at a firefighters conference and no one is allowed to speak about water.
Jaws also dropped when Bregman called out U2 frontman Bono, who has become a regular fixture at Davos.
“This is not rocket science,” Bregman said. “We can talk for a very long time about all these stupid philanthropy schemes, we can invite Bono once more, but, come on, we got to be talking about taxes. That’s it. Taxes, taxes, taxes — all the rest is bulls—, in my opinion.”
Bregman's comments went viral and a video of the moment on Twitter has gotten more than 6 million views and liked 96,495 times. He's also raking up rave reviews on Facebook and YouTube.
Science Recruit weighed in on Youtube: "The Bregman stare was intense. So glad he's going viral."
@travis_swift13 tweeted, "Rutger and Winnie for presidents of Earth please. It’s crazy that working-class oppose this like we could ever be that rich."
Adam Fysh believes Bregman's brash comments might get him kicked off next year's invite list.
"@rutgerbregman just got uninvited for LIFE from #WEF! I'm calling it now, #WEF is over. The majority of these rich boys have never had people rebuke them like this…"
Bergman's verbal beatdown also caught the eye of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who tweeted the video, adding, "We have a rigged tax code that has essentially legalized tax-dodging for large corporations and the world's wealthiest individuals.
"It is time to end these egregious loopholes and make the wealthy pay their fair share."
Bergman says the social media shout-outs and praise from politicians came as a surprise to him.
"You know, I didn't expect much of it," he told Radio 4. "I mean, I'm just saying what everyone's thinking, I guess. But that's not usual at Davos. But the response was quite aggressive. It was really like the 't' word is really the forbidden word over there."