With the so-called “climate crisis” positioned as one of the central pillars of the “progressive” movement, teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg has rocketed to global prominence, and has been lauded as an international spokesperson for “climate action.” Her most recent public appearance was at the UN Climate Action Summit, where her emotional statements drew rapturous support from the Left.
While many advocates for “climate action” extol the virtues of Greta Thunberg and see her as a hero of the movement, there have been some who have raised concerns regarding her mental health and questioned the possible political exploitation of a vulnerable child. After all, regardless of whether or not you agree with her political conclusions, it is difficult to watch Thunberg’s speech at the UN without observing her traumatized emotional state.
One of the conservatives who raised such concerns was The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles. During an appearance on Fox News, he argued that Greta Thunberg was a “mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international Left.”
This short exchange between Michael Knowles and progressive commentator Chris Hahn is actually proof of the effectiveness of the Left’s strategy to employ vulnerable children as political puppets, and use them as literal human shields against objective and substantive debate.
Their strategy is clear. Once they have identified a problem area, they find vocal and emotional young people who are willing to parrot the Left’s narrative. Applying the illogical notion that children possess some form of youthful wisdom, they are presented as thought leaders in their respective fields. A perfect combination of youth, emotion, and enthusiasm positions them as an instantaneous false authority. Overnight, the Left have built ideological child soldiers who are ready to be sent out into the political battlefield.
The problem for the Left is that the ideas being promulgated by their new youthful heroes are the same unsubstantiated and flawed proposals as before. This fact brings us to the second pillar in their strategy, which is to claim that the childhood innocence used to grant political authority is the same childhood innocence which should outlaw any form of political criticism under the guise of “protecting” children against “attacks” from adults.
Chris Hahn’s reaction to Michael Knowles is an example of this strategy at work. Regardless of your political position, it’s indisputable that Michael Knowles was expressing an opinion based upon undeniable facts. Claiming that a Swedish child with multiple mental disorders is a “mentally ill Swedish child” is not an attack, but a statement of fact. Arguing that Thunberg is being exploited by both her parents and the international Left is an opinion which expresses concern for vulnerable children, and not a personal attack on Thunberg herself. Ironically, the only person launching irrelevant and personal attacks was Chris Hahn.
After Fox News apologized for his “disgraceful” remarks, a spokesperson stated that they would no longer welcome Knowles onto their network. The capitulation of the sole “conservative” mainstream network to the radical outrage mob will be seen as an ideological victory for the Left, and will only result in the further manipulation and exploitation of vulnerable children. Speaking with the Washington Examiner, Hahn made it clear that the Left aren’t even trying to disguise their strategy:
“What Mike Knowles said last night should not be tolerated. It’s unfortunate that the debate in this country has sunk to a level where some people think it’s ok to denigrate children. We saw this during the Parkland Student Protests and we’re seeing it today with the attacks on Greta.”
As Kyle Kashuv is doubtlessly aware, the fact that this protection against “denigration” is only guaranteed to politically-convenient children proves just how disingenuous the Left’s sporadic concern for childhood innocence truly is.
The Left’s strategy is based upon two arguments, which in reality are mutually exclusive. They promote politically-aligned children as thought leaders, and use their youthful authority as evidence in favor of their policy proposals. At the same time, they reject any criticism of these policies as an “attack” on innocent children. These two arguments cannot co-exist. Either the Left must allow the children they hold as political authorities to defend their ideas on their own merits, or they must withdraw children from the political arena in order to adequately defend their youthful innocence.
Until the Left choose between the former and the latter, we cannot stand idly by and allow such cynical exploitation to continue unchallenged. We must remember that the innocence of children should never be sacrificed in favor of achieving shallow political victories, and we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by the Left’s baseless accusations of heartlessness in our attempt to protect children from a virulent political class who see them as nothing more than political pawns.