Why Discredit Greta Thunberg?

Examining the motives behind the right wing attacks.

16+year+old+activist+Greta+Thunberg.
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Why Discredit Greta Thunberg?

16 year old activist Greta Thunberg.

16 year old activist Greta Thunberg.

16 year old activist Greta Thunberg.

16 year old activist Greta Thunberg.

In the aftermath of the youth-led climate change protests that spread across the globe last Friday, one person has dominated the headlines this week. Inspiring the protests themselves and delivering an intense speech at the UN Climate Summit, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has been receiving boundless global attention, from praise for her advocacy and passion, to harsh criticism, mockery, and accusations coming from major news sources and global leaders. In fact, if you look up her name on google, two of the three top stories that are visible are Snopes articles fact checking popular conspiracies that claim “photos show Greta Thunberg with George Soros, ISIS, and the ‘Antifa Terrorist Organization’” and that she is “really an actress named Estella Renee” (all of these theories deemed false in the articles). 

Google search of “greta thunberg” reveals Snopes articles as top stories.

The criticism the sixteen year old has received is not limited to unreasonable conspiracy theories. Thunberg has acted as a magnet for narrow-minded attacks, receiving most of the hate from people who disagree with climate change. On Monday night, Fox News pundit Michael Knowles (who refers to climate change as an unscientific “hysteria movement”) took a jab at the fact that Thunberg has Asperger’s syndrome, calling her a “mentally ill Swedish child”. Far right political commentator and conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza tweeted this prior to Thunberg’s UN Speech Sunday: “Children – notably Nordic white girls with braids and red cheeks – were often used in Nazi propaganda. An old Goebbels technique! Looks like today’s progressive Left is still learning its game from an earlier Left in the 1930s” with an image comparing a picture of Greta Thunberg to Nazi propaganda. 

Fox news host Laura Ingraham called Thunberg’s speech “chilling’ followed by a segment about climate “hysteria” in youth, which included a clip from “Children of the Corn”. Ingraham following it up with “I can’t wait for Stephen King’s sequel, Children of the Climate”. 

Dinesh D’Souza’s tweet likening Thunberg to an image in Nazi propaganda.

But why do people find it necessary to launch cruel attacks on the sixteen year old activist? Is she not doing her civic duty by urging policy makers to address a global issue?

With even President Trump mocking Thunberg, it’s hard to deny that the attacks lean to one side of the party lines. The majority of her critics are right wing climate change naysayers. Right leaning politicians and commentators do not hesitate in denying the validity of scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, and when criticizing Thunberg, they throw in trivial remarks about her mental health and age, far stretched conspiracy theories about who is controlling her, and even comparisons of her activism to cult like behavior. If they are so sure that climate change concerns are simply mass hysteria why do they feel the need to attack Greta Thunberg instead of simply being confident in their beliefs? Well, looking back into the comments, taking away the critical remarks against Thunberg, the claims denying the scientific facts of climate change are unsubstantiated and lacking scientific evidence of their own. Critics of Thunberg are using callous remarks as a facade, masking their hesitancy to engage in a discussion of the science behind her claims and ultimately revealing the hollowness of their agenda.

Greta Thunberg has taken the global stage, criticizing governments for their dismissal and failure to act in wake of startling climate change evidence. Despite the criticism, the teenager has taken on a job many adult policymakers have avoided doing, and has received international praise for setting the precedent for immediate, decisive action to prevent the irreversible consequences of climate change. Narrow-minded attacks on Thunberg do not advance the climate change naysayer’s agendas, they simply attempt to divert attention away from the science behind the issue.

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