Greta Brings out the Misogyny in Climate Deniers

December 15, 2019

Fear is the root of anger. Remember that when you see the continuing stream of spittle flecked invective directed at a powerful young woman by the doddering, impotent males of climate denial.


To her considerable and growing list of accomplishments, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg can now add another mark of distinction: She has been attacked by the troll-in-chief.

In September, in response to Thunberg’s coruscating, impassioned speech to the UN, President Trump tweeted sarcastically, “[s]he seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” (Thunberg promptly edited her Twitter bio to read: “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”)

Trump’s sneering attack came amid a torrent of often misogynist and ableist abuse hurled at Thunberg since the speech, with conservatives attacking her demeanor, her looks, her mental health (she has autism), and above all her autonomy, claiming she is “brainwashed” or a victim of child abuse. Several have compared her speeches to Nazi propaganda.

“She’s ignorant, maniacal and is being mercilessly manipulated by adult climate bedwetters funded by Putin,” ranted C-list climate denier Steve Milloy, somehow fitting all the mutually contradictory stereotypes about powerful women into his pea brain at once.

What’s remarkable about this is not that the right-wing slime machine has gone to work against a new progressive threat. That’s what it was made for. What’s remarkable is how ineffective it’s been, how little it has affected Thunberg and her extraordinary influence.

The right-wing tabloid Daily Wire has published some of the vilest stuff about Thunberg. But when it sent Michael Knowles to Fox News to say Thunberg is a “mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left,” Fox took the rare step of apologizing to viewers and saying it would no longer book Knowles.

On a female-led Fox show, the lone male guest (“Buck Sexton,” I kid you not) went after Thunberg and was promptly scolded by the hosts for “kid bashing.” Up in Canada, Maxime Bernier of the far-right People’s Party of Canada was forced to apologize for calling Thunberg “mentally unstable.”

These moments of accountability on the right are rare, of course — there are dozens, hundreds more examples of attacks far uglier than this that have brought no pushback at all. But they help illustrate that Thunberg has the rare ability to tap into something human, something that, at least sporadically, can break through the media filter pushing the public into partisan camps.

As for Thunberg, her reaction to her attackers remains as bemused and clinical as ever:

It’s not new. In my first interview with Katharine Hayhoe in 2012, we talked about the special animus deniers aim at women.

4 Responses to “Greta Brings out the Misogyny in Climate Deniers”

  1. talies Says:

    Link not working

  2. She is evolving into an amazing person, already so eloquent and strong – yet intelligent enough to know to take a break. I can easily see Greta influencing more and more people in the same way that Jane Goodall found her own voice and destiny. Greta will age with equal grace and continue to impact others. The bullies surely know deep in their souls that she is stronger than they are, and wiser.

  3. indy222 Says:

    One of the rare events of hope is seeing this young girl morph into a powerful young woman who is so totally unflappable. I suppose the conservative Neanthertals (apologies to actual Neandertals) are not used to seeing someone they can’t goad into immaturity and defensiveness because they’re not used to dealing with people who have a rock of inner integrity that remains unmoved by these psychopathological traits they carry around.

    Let’s try to remove the stain of the Nobel in Economics to Nordhaus by a Nobel Peace Prize for Greta.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      The Nobel Peace Prize has been poorly awarded too many times for me to still take it seriously. Obama acknowledged he had no idea why he was awarded it. It has gone to Arafat/Rabin/Peres, Mother Teresa, Sadat/Begin, Kissinger/Lê, and Aung San Suu Kyi, now a genocide apologist.

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