Image via The Atlantic
British broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson has gone after Greta Thunberg again, this time labelling her ‘mad’ and ‘dangerous’.
What is it about a sixteen year-old girl that scares the pants off adults?
Greta has two common privileges – she’s white, and she comes from money – her mother, Malena Ermann, is a celebrated opera singer. But she is also female and falls on the autism spectrum, two traits that society has traditionally silenced, sometimes violently.
The autistic have often had to face up to uncomfortable behaviour from others in society, sometimes even getting shunted to the margins. It’s only in the last decade or so that their voices are being heard, although it might be a bit longer before they’re actually listened to. And women… well, we all know how the female of the species is dealt with differently by humans despite observing that it works rather differently among those that we call animals.
When Jeremy Clarkson calls Thunberg ‘mad’, it’s a disgusting, yet typical attack on someone with atypical mental abilities; it’s also a common piece of rhetoric from the right-wing against Thunberg, whose stinging speech at the UN earlier this year made people all over the world sit up and take notice of how right-wing politics is so entrenched in the status quo that they would happily dance on the grave of our future as a species if it meant earning a few extra thousand dollars.
Sample this, courtesy of everyone’s favourite President:
Thunberg scares the right-wing, because she refuses to play within the boundaries they’ve drawn up for her: she is a girl who dissents, who raises her voice, who refuses to smile; she’s a teenager, but she refuses to be uninformed and confused (as per the teen girl stereotype); she refuses to behave like a ‘weirdo’ with mental ‘problems’- Aspergers, she says, is her superpower, not a weakness or a disability.
Hardly any of those attacking Thunberg’s abilities and character have bothered to use science to contradict her views- none of them have pointed out that the fight against climate change should be led by the developed countries first and foremost, that perhaps Thunberg’s exhortations cannot be homogenously applied across the world. Because they don’t want to counter her, they don’t want informed, measured debate- they want her to shut up.
It’s not her arguments that they have a problem with- it’s that a person, an autistic teenage girl, has made them, and continues to make them despite their best (worst) efforts.
They’re not trying to counter her; they’re trying to silence her.