Image Credit: [Image Credit: Flickr-European Parliament, CC BY 2.0]
Breaking Glass

And a Little Child Shall Mislead Them

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has become a vastly influential force in the discussion of global climate change. Even so, policy makers are reluctant to challenge her because her global reputation verges on the hagiographic. Conservative Italians denounce her fanatical disciples as gretini—a heavy-handed pun on the Italian word for cretins, cretini. Even so, the joke is directed not at the saintly Greta, but at her overenthusiastic followers. Even in conservative American media, such as Fox News, any critiques of the grandstanding activist are dismissed as unacceptable, on the grounds that she’s just a kid, even though she is now 17 years old.

This gentle approach says much in itself about our social assumptions of childish innocence and moral rectitude. However, Thunberg’s views have become so powerful that we urgently need to define the limits of legitimate criticism and opposition.

There are many ways of attacking Thunberg that decency rightly forbids. I would be happy to cite her lack of education or historical awareness, but that all seems to be incorporated into being a child, so we will let that pass. However, suppose some hypothetical pip-squeak piped up with a plea to, for example, attack the Jews. All sane people would be sympathetic to a forceful public riposte, no matter the age of the offender. By the same token, we certainly can attack Thunberg’s ideas as directly...

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