On Monday, Daily Wire contributor Michael Knowles appeared on Fox News’ “The Story” to discuss Greta Thunberg’s appearance at the United Nations, among other things.
Thunberg made news as the 16-year-old climate activist who spoke at the U.N. on so-called climate change.
During the interview, Knowles said, “The climate hysteria movement is not about science. If it were about science, it would be led by scientists rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”
That comment sparked a firestorm of criticism and a quasi-ban from Fox News, which reportedly noted that Knowles was not confirmed for any further interviews — never mind that The New York Times had also reported on Thunberg’s mental illness.
In August, The Times reported: “As a child, doctors told her (Thunberg) she had Asperger’s syndrome. In early adolescence she battled severe depression, so much so that she stopped eating for a while and stopped growing. Recovery came slowly, and only after finding a sense of purpose.”
Knowles is correct that the left is exploiting a mentally ill child — or at least a child who has suffered from mental illness — and if there’s a problem with what he said, it’s that he didn’t go far enough in decrying the evil of that exploitation.
(In Knowles’ defense, however, it is hard to carry your argument forward when the liberal radio talk show host opposite you chants “you are despicable” while the host does absolutely nothing to stop him.)
Evil is a strong word, but, as someone who has fought depression and anxiety disorders in my own life for over a decade, I’m using it intentionally. On their own, depression and anxiety can be brutal. Augmented by outside catastrophization about the future of the planet, well, I can’t imagine how devastating they might be.
And that’s exactly what Thunberg has experienced.
I can only speak for myself, not Thunberg, but if I were young enough to believe that experts really are expert and that the human race faces extinction and that somewhere there’s a clock counting down from 12 years to planetary annihilation, I’d be pretty motivated to speak out too.
And, in my case, the impetus behind that motivation would potentially amplify to crushing proportions in my mind. That’s how depression and anxiety work.
With depression, the world begins to darken as possibilities for satisfaction, happiness, and even joy receded across an infinite gulf. Things seem to have gone bad, and you see no way or only a sliver of a chance to right them.
Anxiety is the flip side. Instead of possibilities receding, false realities begin to close in. Where depression might say there’s no path to happiness, anxiety says there is only one path forward, and it inexorably leads to pain, paralysis, and suffering. Things are going bad, and there is no place to hide. Ever.
People who have had depression and anxiety, as Thunberg has described herself, are already prone to painfully strong reactions to negative news. A constant diet of negative news only exacerbates those feelings.
In my case, without treatment that diet would soon cripple me with despair, fear, and pain.
And that brings us back to the word evil.
Purposefully taking a child who has suffered from these mental illnesses and encouraging her to feed on a diet of fear and cataclysm in order to advance a political agenda is evil because doing so ignores the incredible burden of pain she will needlessly bear. I can’t imagine that burden, and I’m an adult.
In “The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas,” Ursula K. Le Guin considers a city whose Utopian existence is made possible by the suffering of one innocent child. While most citizens choose to ignore the child and enjoy the city of happiness, some choose to leave, unwilling to benefit from the suffering of an innocent.
Greta Thunberg is an innocent. With childlike trust she has believed what her elders told her. She has internalized it. She has become a spokesman for it.
And those same elders have begun to use her to advance their own agenda. They continually expose her to the most dire, and questionable, predictions about extinction-level events. They manipulate her, then cheer as the pain and anger they induced appear on her face for all the world to see.
Cynical doesn’t even begin to describe this.
Knowles is right that Thunberg is being exploited. She’s also being abused.
And, believe it or not, Thunberg is right too. Her childhood and dreams are being stolen. But they’re not being stolen by robber barons and their smokestacks.
They’re being stolen by the men working to create their own Utopia filled with government greening contracts and moral sanctimony — men who whisper terrifying untruths into her ears then watch eagerly as her suffering turns those lies into emotionally charged, easily packaged media soundbites that redound to their benefit.
Doing that to Greta Thunberg is not very far from Omelas, and if you ask someone who battles depression and anxiety like I do, it’s definitionally evil.
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