Age no shield against the Trumpian response

  • Leading the way: Litokne Kabua, left, of the Marshall Islands, Raina Ivanova, centre, of Germany, and Carlos Manuel, of Palau, are joined by other child petitioners to announce a complaint they will file before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to protest lack of government action on the climate crisis, Monday, in New York (Photograph by Mark Lennihan/AP)

    Leading the way: Litokne Kabua, left, of the Marshall Islands, Raina Ivanova, centre, of Germany, and Carlos Manuel, of Palau, are joined by other child petitioners to announce a complaint they will file before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to protest lack of government action on the climate crisis, Monday, in New York (Photograph by Mark Lennihan/AP)

  • Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives to the podium to speak as she takes part during the Climate Strike on Friday in New York. Tens of thousands of protesters joined rallies on Friday as a day of worldwide demonstrations calling for action against climate change began ahead of a U.N. summit in New York (Photograph by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP)

    Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives to the podium to speak as she takes part during the Climate Strike on Friday in New York. Tens of thousands of protesters joined rallies on Friday as a day of worldwide demonstrations calling for action against climate change began ahead of a U.N. summit in New York (Photograph by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP)

  • In this July 20, 2016, file photo, conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Fox News has apologised for a guest who called environmental activist Greta Thunberg mentally ill, and said he would never appear on the network again. The network had no comment on Tuesday about its own prime-time host, Ingraham, who likened Thunberg to a murderous child cult leader from a Stephen King short story (File photograph by Mark J. Terrill/AP)

    In this July 20, 2016, file photo, conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Fox News has apologised for a guest who called environmental activist Greta Thunberg mentally ill, and said he would never appear on the network again. The network had no comment on Tuesday about its own prime-time host, Ingraham, who likened Thunberg to a murderous child cult leader from a Stephen King short story (File photograph by Mark J. Terrill/AP)

  • Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives to the podium to speak as she takes part during the Climate Strike, on Friday in New York. Tens of thousands of protesters joined rallies on Friday as a day of worldwide demonstrations calling for action against climate change began ahead of a U.N. summit in New York (Photograph by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP)

    Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives to the podium to speak as she takes part during the Climate Strike, on Friday in New York. Tens of thousands of protesters joined rallies on Friday as a day of worldwide demonstrations calling for action against climate change began ahead of a U.N. summit in New York (Photograph by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP)

  • This January 25, 2019 file photo shows climate activist Greta Thunberg during a session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Thunberg has two books coming out in the United States, including an English-language edition of her memoir. Penguin Press announced last Thursday that it will release Thunberg’s memoir “No House Is On Fire” and a collection of her speeches, “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference”, which will include her upcoming address at the UN Climate Action Summit (File photograph by Markus Schreiber/AP)

    This January 25, 2019 file photo shows climate activist Greta Thunberg during a session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Thunberg has two books coming out in the United States, including an English-language edition of her memoir. Penguin Press announced last Thursday that it will release Thunberg’s memoir “No House Is On Fire” and a collection of her speeches, “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference”, which will include her upcoming address at the UN Climate Action Summit (File photograph by Markus Schreiber/AP)

  • Eugene Scott writes about identity politics for The Fix. He was previously a breaking news reporter at CNN Politics

    Eugene Scott writes about identity politics for The Fix. He was previously a breaking news reporter at CNN Politics


Greta Thunberg has captured the attention of many politicos on both the Left and the Right for her impassioned plea for more aggressive action to combat climate change.

The 16-year-old travelled to the United Nations this week to criticise world leaders for what she considers a poor response — or all-out inaction — to climate change.

“This is all wrong,” she said on Monday while speaking on a panel at a UN climate summit. “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean.

“Yet, you all come to us young people for hope,” Thunberg said. “How dare you?”

The Swedish activist’s strong rebuke to leaders has earned harsh criticism from Donald Trump and some of his most loyal supporters.

The pushback is the latest reminder that for some on the Right, no Trump detractor, including teenagers, is spared the Trumpian response to criticism: punching back if attacked.

In response to Thunberg decrying that world leaders were more consumed with “money and fairytales of eternal economic growth” than the suffering of humanity, widely viewed as a direct jab at Trump, the President sarcastically remarked that the teenager seems “very happy”.

Conservative political commentator Michael Knowles was arguing on Fox News on Monday that meatless diets were bad for the environment when he randomly pivoted to attack Thunberg.

“None of that matters because the climate hysteria movement is not about science,” the Daily Wire podcast host said. “If it were about science, it would be led by scientists rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”

Thunberg has Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder that makes social interaction and non-verbal communication difficult.

A spokesman for Fox News told The Washington Post: “The comment made by Michael Knowles who was a guest on The Story tonight was disgraceful — we apologise to Greta Thunberg and to our viewers.”

But Knowles took to social media to double down.

“There is nothing shameful about living with mental disorders,” he tweeted. “What is shameful is exploiting a child, particularly a child with mental disorders, to advance your political agenda.”

A more high-profile Fox personality and vocal Trump supporter, Laura Ingraham, accused Thunberg of being among young climate activists who will punish adults who don’t embrace their positions on climate change.

“Does anyone else find that chilling?” Ingraham asked of Thunberg’s speech before juxtaposing the 16-year-old’s words with a clip from Children of the Corn, a 1984 movie in which children are moved to kill the adults in a Nebraskan town.

“I can’t wait for Stephen King’s sequel, ‘Children of the Climate’,“ Ingraham said.

Over the weekend, conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza compared Thunberg to the children used in Nazi propaganda. Sebastian Gorka, a former White House aide, dismissed the teenager as an “autist child”.

Eugene Scott writes about identity politics for The Fix. He was previously a breaking news reporter at CNN Politics

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Published Sep 25, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 25, 2019 at 8:17 am)

Age no shield against the Trumpian response

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