Monday 21 October 2019

The impotent rage at Thunberg says a lot more about her insipid tormentors

Editorial Comment

It is a question many people have found themselves asking in recent weeks. What is it about a 16-year-old schoolgirl from Sweden that can inspire such visceral hatred from old angry men?

Is it righteous indignation at the audacity of a child to point out their generation's greed and failings? Could it be fear that the next generation is rising up to challenge their cosy establishment?

Perhaps it's just guilt at the fact that while they watched the world around them burn they did absolutely nothing to stop it?

It could be all of these things and more - simple hatred is definitely a motive for some of the trolls targeting Greta Thunberg - but one thing is certain, the Swedish climate activist inspires a passionate reaction.

Greta Thunberg's message on climate change is simple - perhaps the reason it has been so widely embraced - climate change is real, it will affect the future of every child on the planet and world leaders need to listen to scientists and do something.

The Swedish teen's delivery is blunt and uncompromising and she displays no fear or weakness in the face of political and economic power.

Unafraid to speak her mind and to do so in graphic terms if necessary, Ms Thunberg has galvanised global opinion and helped foster a sea change in how the world thinks about climate change.

Given that her message - if it is truly acted upon - has the potential to turn entire industries on their heads, like the power sector for example, it is understandable that many powerful figures are worried.

That fear has manifested itself in countless attacks against Ms Thunberg and her followers. The accusations fly thick and fast.

Her Asperger's is highlighted. She is labelled a stooge of fame-seeking parents or of some nefarious liberal cabal.

Other critics claim she offers no solutions which is true as she simply asks people to listen to scientists. Others claim Ms Thunberg's own arguments are unscientific.

The common thread, though, is her age. Like all good little girls the petulant Swede should know her place, shut her mouth and respect her elders.

After all, what could a teenager possibly offer the world?

Here are a few other examples from the history books.

Joan of Arc led a French army to victory over the English at 18; Louis Braille invented the Braille system aged 15; Bobby Fischer became a chess grand master also at 15; Mary Shelly began writing Frankenstein aged 17; Barbara Rose Johns was 15 when she helped kickstart the fight against segregation in US schools; pioneering journalist Nellie Bly began her career at 16. There are many more.

Recently there was education activist Malala Yousafzai, whose stand against the Taliban saw them try to murder her. She won the Nobel Peace Prize at 17. She is the youngest person to ever achieve the honour.

Greta Thunberg is the latest in a long line of inspirational young people who helped shape our world. She shouldn't be denigrated for her youth, she should be celebrated for it.

Enniscorthy Guardian