Listen to the youth

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

Political leaders bullying teen activists is just a tactic for ignoring real issues. 

By Sarah Best, Staff Writer 

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed our country’s leaders in a recent meeting at the U.N. where her age and mental disability seems to play a key role in her backlash.

It wasn’t uncommon to be told to “listen to your elders” when growing up. That is a thing of the past and now it is time to listen to the future. Thunberg’s powerful speech at the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit on September 23 has caused an enormous uproar in Washington, and is getting the wrong attention from our leaders. She has consistently been mocked by our president and ridiculed by a guest on FOX News for her mental disability. 

A common theme in modern society is pushing the ideology that the “kids are the future” and that the fate of our nation lies within the iminent generations. If our future really does lie in the hands of today’s youth, why are political leaders ignoring and ridiculing Thunberg and other young activists like her that are attempting to institute change?

Conservative podcast host, Michael Knowles, referred to climate change as a non-scientific issue that should be “led by scientists instead of a mentally ill Swedish child” during a Bloomberg editorial segment on FOX News. Thunberg has readily been forthcoming about living with Asperger’s and has often referred to it as being her superpower, according to CNN. FOX quickly proceeded to issue a half-hearted apology on behalf of Knowles, calling his bullying remarks “disgraceful.”

Though it was expected that the content of the 16-year-old’s deliverance would be overlooked and practically everything else about her would be criticized, FOX News is not the only source castigating Thunberg. Tweets from the former aide to the White House Seb Gorka read, “The adults who brainwashed this autist child should be brought up on child abuse charges.”

Our current administration ignored the pressing reality of climate issues presented in Thunberg’s speech, and Trump chose to mock her Twitter bio in a tweet that read “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!" As opposed to being taken seriously, she is instead being blatantly criticized for her young age and a mental disability, both of which are out of her control. 

However, not all leaders are ignoring Thunberg and the climate emergency. Former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted that he was “inspired by the courage and tenacity of @GretaThunberg.” Mayor Pete Buttiegeg of South Bend, Indiana and California Senator Kamala Harris both agreed that leaders are “failing the youth of today” by not “taking action” with the climate calamity that future generations will have to live with. 

The Trump administration and conservative leaders can not pick and choose when they want to listen to today’s youth or acknowledge their voices. They want to aid in the epidemic among young people of vaping by banning e-cigarettes. Had Thunberg ended up in the hospital due to vaping related illness, would our president still unremorsefully mock and bully? When teens like Thunberg bring up real issues, why are they not taken seriously, Mr. President? 

To what extent do America’s youth have to go to in order to be taken seriously by the people in power? Today’s administration is displaying a reprehensible bullying deflection act in order to avoid the acknowledgment of climate catastrophes, among other issues, being brought to their attention by America’s future.