Greta Thunberg may be a most annoying child but she already knows how to avoid accountability and lord it over the rest of us as one of privilege.
At the tender young age of 16, Greta Thunberg has already learned well from the work of experienced environmental activists and has determined that she’s the smart one. Being the smart one, of course, means that others are either incapable of understanding what she says or just wrong.
A clear example appeared on December 13, when she told a group of climate change protesters that “world leaders” need to be held accountable when it comes to climate change, a statement that by itself doesn’t rise much above the level of political rhetoric. The problem came when she said “we will make sure we put world leaders against the wall” if they don’t act. Some saw that as a threat – think execution by firing squad – and Thunberg’s reaction and response received coverage that’s worth reading very carefully.
Thunberg invoked Swenglish as her defense. While Dictionary.com has no definition for “Swenglish,” Wikipedia states that “Swenglish is a colloquial term referring to the English language heavily influenced by Swedish in terms of vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation.” As a Swede, Thunberg obviously speaks Swedish as her primary language and she explained that in her English-language speech, she believed that saying “we will make sure we put world leaders against the wall” was the same as saying “we will hold world leaders accountable.”
Well, maybe that really is what she thought she was saying, despite the fact that she hasn’t seemed to experience any comparable difficulties in delivering lectures in English on other occasions, but then she gave an apology. Her apology was aimed at those who “misunderstood,” thus suggesting that she’s learned something not only from environmental activists, but from history, too, as nearly a half-century ago, White House statements on the Watergate break-in were described by some as not quite what they appeared to be at first glance. They were called “non-denial denials” and that definition seems to be a perfect match to Thunberg’s apology.
And then there was the train, an episode that was less widely reported. On her way home from her speaking engagement, Thunberg posted a photo of herself on a Deutsche Bahn train and wrote that the train was overcrowded. In the photo, she was sitting on the floor of a coach near a stack of luggage. DB apologized, but soon changed its position and took Thunberg to task for failing to mention that she’d been treated well by the railroad’s staff while she was in her first-class seat. Thunberg replied that she’d gotten a seat only after four hours and notwithstanding the photo’s implication, that she’d never claimed that that had been a problem.
Like her “against the wall” promise, the Deutsche Bahn matter has apparently been mostly forgotten by the so-called mainstream media in about a month. There’s a lesson in that for Thunberg, one that her more-experienced mentors have long known, namely the very high probability that as an environmental extremist, she can expect to be given a pass by the media and the rest of the left.
Thunberg’s free ride would amount to very little were that same mainstream media not smitten with her. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with a reasonable amount of reporting on her scolding rants and feigned outrage, but if the media were truly objective, they would provide a comparably reasonable amount of reporting on those who take a more-measured and less-theatrical approach to climate change.
Thunberg apparently knows and – critically – understands all of that as well as the likelihood that she’ll never have to confront the embarrassingly awkward possibility that she simply might not be right.
Text and photos: Copyright 2020 by Bob Tomaine.