We don’t like being made to feel bad about our life choices do we? Well, that’s human nature. To make ourselves feel good we sneer at others, for example, vegans. Similarly, we’re suspicious of people who are sober at parties. And if anything, anything at all is likely to make you feel bad about your life choices, won’t you look for explanations, excuses to degrade another person? I think that’s what is happening with Greta Thunberg. I watched when she spoke at the UN, I read when she was declared ‘Time person of the year’ in 2019 and now when she finished speaking at Davos at the World Economic Forum on Climate Change, she is being brutally brought down again. I truly believe that she’s showing us the mirror and we don’t like what we see, so we want to kill the messenger, so to say.
“I wonder, what will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing the climate chaos you knowingly brought upon them?” she said at the World Economic Forum at Davos on January 22 and look at the response she generated:
“How did you get to Davos? Thought you were taking a break? When are you going back to school to leave the rest of us alone with this climate hoax? How dare you keep tormenting us with this lie? Did you know we have been told this same climate crap at least 5 times before your birth?” one tweeple troll said.
While another wrote, “I would tell them, “Thank God we didn’t listen to that hysterical Greta Thunberg and her psycho dad.”
“I’m wondering what’s gonna happen to this teenager the day she’s gonna look for a job?!? She’s missing school since at least a year. Who takes care of her?” wrote a yet another user.
What is it about Greta that generates so much hatred for her? Starting with none other than the US President Donald Trump; the leader of the free world.
A 74-year-old president against 17-year-old climate activist
At Davos, knowing she was in the audience, Trump took a swing at Thunberg in his speech and spoke of the “perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse.” He said that people like Greta “are the errors of yesterday’s fortune-tellers,” and that “they want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen,” adding that in order to “embrace the possibilities of tomorrow,” we must reject the warnings of such individuals, reported NYT.
Trump also said that he didn’t know anything about Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, even though he had called her “very angry” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last year. “I don’t really know anything about her,” Trump had said, when asked about Thunebergr on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as reported by Vanity Fair.
When Time magazine had named Swedish activist Greta Thunberg its person of the year, he posted “So ridiculous.” on Twitter. “Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”
Hours after the young climate activist delivered an impassioned speech to the United Nations Climate Action Summit calling out world leaders for not responding to the climate crisis with more urgency, President Trump mocked her by tweeting, “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
To this Greta had a bit of fun with the president’s tweet. She updated her Twitter bio to read, “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”
That says a lot doesn’t it, about Greta, a 17-year-old girl taking on the most powerful person on this earth.
But he’s not the only person bullying her on the world stage; the Australian conservative climate change denier Andrew Bolt called her “deeply disturbed” and “freakishly influential”. Brendan O’Neill of Spiked called her a “millenarian weirdo” in a piece that referred nastily to her “monotone voice” and “the look of apocalyptic dread in her eyes,” as written by Irish Times.
While Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested climate change fears were a type of pathology. Following Thunberg’s UN speech he declared that the climate debate subjected children to “needless anxiety” and suggested they needed more “context and perspective” on the issue. “We’ve got to let kids be kids,” he said, Independent UK reported.
So, coming back to the discussion, what is the trigger? Why does Greta trigger hatred? Is it because they’re afraid of her? For what she stands for – youth, determination, and change. Or is it a fear stemming from the fact that she’s able to garner support from people her age across nations?
It’s the youth that brings in the change; we know that if we’ve attended history lessons. Again it’s women who are leading from the front the world over. Why go far for an example, in India the youth and women are on the streets resisting a divisive and unconstitutional CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) and NRC (National Register of Citizens).
And Greta is both—a young woman, with her heart in the right place.
“I wonder, what will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing the climate chaos you knowingly brought upon them?” she said at the World Economic Forum
Activism not for girls
I would like to point out to the fact that the patriarchal set-up of our societies does not like girls and women falling out of line, taking their own path. How dare she talk about the world and its destruction, that’s a man’s worry, isn’t it? She should be more worried about what dress to wear or which beauty pageant to participate in next. That’s why the vile comments are personal, even targetting her disability; Greta suffers from Asperger syndrome. But Greta calls it her ‘superpower’. Atta girl!
I truly believe that the reason Climate Change deniers taunt Greta with childish insults is because that’s all they’ve got. They’re out of ideas. They can’t dismantle her arguments, because she has science on her side. They can’t win the debate with the persuasive cynical force of their arguments, because she has youthful passion. What they can do is post snide tweets and blog posts. But they won’t get a reaction because, frankly, Greta has bigger worries on her mind, like saving the planet, for her generation and for the future ones.
Whether we like it or not, she’s here to stay, to play a vital role in international activism. More power to her, I say.
The views expressed are the writer’s own.