I find most personal attacks on teen Swedish climate activist and newly minted TIME Person of the Year Greta Thunberg to be boorish, tactless and unnecessary. Even more so when the leader of the free world is up in early hours of the morning tweeting about her simply out of what appears to be press envy. President Trump’s weird obsession with TIME magazine transcends decades, so his latest jab at Thunberg is unsurprising.
What’s even less surprising is the media reaction to the president’s tweet instructing Greta to ‘chill out’. With almost coordinated uniformity, staffers of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and CBS to name but a few, felt the need to highlight Thunberg’s Asperger syndrome in their response to Trump, something the president has yet to mention himself in his juvenile attacks on her.
The game with Thunberg’s handlers and allies in the media here is all too obvious: prop up a socially awkward teenage child to preach about their social or political issue (in this case, worldwide global apocalypse), hand her pages of words to speak on stage, wait for the response from those who oppose her overzealous political ideology, and then feign outrage that their critiques are directed at a fragile child with a socially debilitating disorder. How dare you! It’s a clever, if not all-too-transparent trick designed to satisfy their own id, rather than convince others to join their cause.
A similar tactic was deployed by gun control groups and members of the media shortly after the Parkland school shooting in Florida in 2018. Greta Thunberg isn’t going away any time soon and throwing tomatoes at her won’t accomplish anything. Cries from defensive journalists about cyberbullying a defenseless child simply trying to make the world a better place will only grow louder . But if the media has decided to elevate child spokespeople to the status of new invincible prophets, I say so be it. Make them adhere to their own standards. Let’s test this ‘don’t cyberbully teenagers’ theory.
This is why the National Rifle Association, an organization ripe for overhaul given the latest controversies and upheaval, should make their next spokesperson a teenager. Then we can sit back and watch hordes of reporters adjust their outrage meters accordingly. Their new rosy-cheeked spokeskid should take to Twitter and YouTube, dressed in an orange vest and slinging an AR-15 over their shoulder, accompanied with bold declarations about how it’s up to the children to defend our Second Amendment Rights, granted to us by God and the Constitution of the United States, if the adults in Congress will no longer do it. They can correct media-at-large and politicians like Michael Bloomberg about the mechanics of what an AR-15 actually are, as well as citing statistics about the futility of an assault weapons ban when it’s first enacted. I’m sure they will handle critics of this defenseless child with the grace and demeanor they do with attacks on Thunberg.
The NRA can send their new Twitter savvy teen on Meet the Press to tell Chuck Todd, while choking back tears, that not a single universal background check would have stopped the last five mass shootings in America. They can create Instagram Stories and TikToks explaining how gun violence has been on a 30-year down trend and is not an emergency, and all mandatory buybacks proposed by Democrats in Congress are the actual confiscation of constitutional rights.
The fresh-faced and hopeful deity of the new youth order marching for gun rights can pose for pictures and instead of demanding school walk outs, demand school participation in skeet shooting and NRA certification assembles. Perhaps even a ‘Bring your rifle to school day’. After all, the more the youth of our nation are trained to handle firearms responsibly, the more likely they themselves can shoot back in the event of a mass shooter, instead of hiding while a school security guard cowers in the parking lot. Why wouldn’t CNN jump at the chance to profile these brave children leading the way to fight back against gun violence in their own schools? ‘We can’t wait. Just fire back! Don’t hesitate!’
Or maybe, members of the media can simply spare themselves the aneurysm of a such a scenario, and their social media allies could perhaps stop deifying a child who is cynically propped up as a human shield themselves, before the NRA and other such organizations take this suggestion seriously.