Greta Thunberg and the Problem of Child Soldiers

Bad Arguments Vol. 68

Greta Thunberg

While everyone is picking sides regarding the uprising of one Greta Thunberg, I’ve noticed an important debate has been neglected. Before I get ahead of myself, let me offer a quick recap of the general back and forth that has taken place thus far.

The climate debate has been off and on for the last several years, first beginning to smoulder with the works of Al Gore, and fully igniting with AOC’s Green New Deal. Greta Thunberg began to pick up media attention through her work in her native Sweden and became a household name with her recent address to the United Nations. Her message is clear: listen to climate scientists, and start fixing everything immediately.

We could sit and argue over the use of government force to accomplish these goals, or the additional taxation. We could talk about the reality of climate science away from the politics and try clearing up some of the misplaced hype. We could even allow ourselves to criticize her directly by bringing up her claims of being able to see CO2 (an invisible gas), or how she has always been plagued by generic nightmares that eventually became about the climate and her parents, rather than treating it like her other nightmares, decided to thrust her into the limelight. I have a different issue.

Over and over again, her age comes into play. For those out of the loop, Greta Thunberg is only 16 years old. Climate change activists, the media, and the left in general have come to her defense over her age and how she shouldn’t be attacked the ways that she has. This has, quite fairly, been countered by calling out the hypocrisy of that defense when compared to how “mini AOC” or the Maga-hat Covington kids were treated when the limelight fell to them.

Sadly, this still doesn’t solve anything, and simply becomes an argument no better than children yelling “ya huh!” “Nuh uh!” back and forth at each other. The question we need to ask in politics is what role our youth should have. For those that would say they shouldn’t have any role, I understand where you come from, but need to disagree. Change takes time, and by the time the activism of our youth comes to pass they will become the adults that will be living it. Further, engaged youth become engaged adults, which the world, frankly, needs far more of.

But should they be at the forefront of the political battlefields? That, I believe, is unavoidable. These youth become the political equivalent of child soldiers. Their use will not end until we collectively treat them with the same level of disgust. Youth activism should and needs to be encouraged, but to position them as key mouthpieces is disingenuous. To do so then cry “leave them alone, they’re children!” is akin to using someone as a meat shield.

The first step in solving a problem is to acknowledge that there is one. The faster we acknowledge how unacceptable this is in politics, the sooner we can all hopefully move beyond them.

Read more from Killian at Think Liberty here.


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