How can a 16-year-old girl in plaits, who has dedicated herself to the not-exactly sinister, authoritarian plot of trying to save the planet from extinction, inspire such incandescent rage?
Last week, she tweeted that she had arrived into New York after her two week transatlantic voyage: “Finally here. Thank you everyone who came to see me off in Plymouth, and everyone who welcomed me in New York! Now I’m going to rest for a few days, and on Friday I’m going to participate in the strike outside the UN”, before promptly giving a press conference in English. Yes, her second language.
Her remarks were immediately greeted with a barrage of jibes about virtue signalling, and snide remarks about the three crew members who will have to fly out to take the yacht home.
This shouldn’t need to be spelled out, but as some people don’t seem to have grasped it yet, we’ll give it a lash: Thunberg’s trip was an act of protest, not a sacred commandment or an instruction manual for the rest of us. Like all acts of protest, it was designed to be symbolic and provocative. For those who missed the point – and oh, how they missed the point – she retweeted someone else’s “friendly reminder” that: “You don’t need to spend two weeks on a boat to do your part to avert our climate emergency. You just need to do everything you can, with everyone you can, to change everything you can.”
Some of the criticism levelled at Thunberg is astonishing. It is the most vicious and the most fatuous kind of playground bullying
Part of the reason she inspires such rage, of course, is blindingly obvious. Climate change is terrifying. The Amazon is burning. So too is the Savannah. Parts of the Arctic are on fire. Sea levels are rising. There are more vicious storms and wildfires and droughts and floods. Denial is easier than confronting the terrifying truth.
Irish Times. Jennifer O’Connell