Yesterday, TIME magazine announced that teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg has been chosen as their Person of the Year. At 16 years old, she is the youngest person to ever receive the distinction. Thunberg captivated the world over the past year with her brave calls for older generations and governments to take immediate action to curb climate change and ensure a habitable world for all of us. Her righteously angry address to the United Nations went viral and she gave millions the courage to take to the streets to protest against the dangerous inaction of world leaders.
Her sudden prominence also made her a target for right-wing trolls and reactionary politicians who have long denied the threat posed by climate change. Even in the face of some truly vile attacks and smears, she stuck to her message and urged us as a species to strive for a better world.
Donald Trump Jr. didn’t waste any time attacking Thunberg on Twitter. Oblivious to the fact that she has done more good in her short life than he has in all his forty-one years of scuttling around the world in father’s shadow, he slammed her as “marketing gimmick” and feigned outrage that the TIME distinction wasn’t given to the Hong Kong protestors.
While the protestors certainly deserve our support and recognition and it’s true that their struggle is a valiant one, when you take a step back you see that just about everything going on in the world right now is dwarfed by the enormity of the climate change problem. If we don’t take serious steps to combat rising global temperatures, there eventually won’t be any humans left to protest in the first place.
The attack was especially hypocritical given the fact that just last week he was decrying the mentioning of Barron Trump’s name in passing at a Congressional hearing and insisting that children should be off-limits.
Time leaves out the Hong Kong Protesters fighting for their lives and freedoms to push a teen being used as a marketing gimmick.
How dare you? https://t.co/dnV9mESM6G
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) December 11, 2019
Now, President Trump himself has attacked Thunberg on Twitter.
Yes, the president of the most powerful country in the world has decided his time is best spent going after a teenager on Twitter for having the gall to suggest that he and other leaders should do something to make sure our species survives.
Trump called TIME’s decision “so ridiculous” and said that Thunberg, who has Asperger’s, must “work on her Anger Management problem.” He suggested she should “go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend!” The tweet was childish but more importantly it was a reminder that not only does our president have no interest in taking action against climate change, he despises and ridicules those who are actually doing something about it.
“Chill Greta, Chill!” he ended the tweet.
The idea of a man as infamously ill-tempered telling anyone to “chill” is funny itself, but it becomes funnier still when one considers the fact that he’s probably just upset that he didn’t win Person of the Year again.
In any case, Thunberg should definitely not chill and it’s precisely this kind of apathy on the part of Trump and men like him that has gotten us into this precarious place in the first place.
So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill! https://t.co/M8ZtS8okzE
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2019
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Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.