“Where are the adults?”

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

Even straight-A teenagers accepted to Harvard are considered unworthy by many adults. After all, teenagers are teenagers; they have a lot to learn.

Those teenagers heading to college are often the ones who become political and famous at their young age when trying to fix wrongs in the world created by, guess who? Many adults. And we have learned of late because of more and more activism by these youngsters that they take as much heat as any old teenage drugger, plagiarist lay-about.

But, when the verbal abuse to those teenagers springs to life on social media all over the globe, the abusers too, can be hit with abuse.

Aaron Banks is a member of the British Parliament, a million-dollar pro-Brexit contributor and buddy of our president. For some reason, he felt he had to make a comment to Greta Thunberg, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist. She sailed from Plymouth, England to the UN climate crisis summit in New York City in September in a wind-driven yacht so as not to use a fossil fuel by flying or taking a cruise ship. Banks, in his no doubt busy life, had to Tweet to the world about Greta: “Freak yachting accidents do happen in August….”

This might have been the genesis of Greta’s line, “Where are the grownups?”

Because of his snarky remark to a child, Banks took a lot of heat from people around the world – “Good grief this is appalling.” (‘Madeline Grand’, Twitter); “…a despicable little man” (‘James Phillips’, Daily Mail); “It’s appalling that you wish harm upon a child whether you agree with her or not.” (author Svenja O’Donnell, Twitter).

But Banks also garnered support from the climate deniers around the world. These misinformed and misinforming persons when it comes to proven science are, according to teenVogue writer Mat Hope, EU and US friends of the Heartland Institute in Illinois. This tax exempt “charity” worked in the 1990s with the tobacco industry to discredit health risks of second-hand smoke and smoking bans. Since then, they’ve worked steadily with oil companies and the insurance industry on denying man-made climate crisis.

On Valentine’s Day, 2018, 17 people, 14 of them teens, were shot and killed within a period of six minutes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Within the week, several students organized and went on the road to statehouses and the White House to try to get legislation to slow down the ease of obtaining guns in this country. All they asked for was sensible gun control and background checks. Soon, NRA adults were calling high school senior organizers Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg (now at Harvard) “hired crisis actors.”

U.S. Congressman Steven King, R (IA), called these two young activists “untethered.” Others called Emma “a skinhead lesbian” and David “a moron and a bald-faced liar.”

Greta’s line fits again: “Where are the adults?”

A friend sent me a contribution to the “Viewpoints from a Teenager” column in the Sebring [FL] Highlands News-Sun newspaper. Miguel Arceo, 16-year-old athlete at Sebring High School, defended his contemporary, Greta, against adults calling her “an inexperienced teen…who does not understand the words coming out of her mouth.”

Arceo said, “…the world labeled them” [Greta, Emma, David] “as ‘crazy liberals’ and ‘socialist puppets.’”

Arceo said, “Both the Parkland High School students and Greta Thunberg were met with a barrage of insults, labels and unsuccessful in accomplishing their goals.”

Arceo said, “These were teenagers who mustered the strength to call for action and met with those who have the power to see something be done. Yet again, they were put down mainly because of their age.”

Along with Arceo’s column, I received a rebuttal to Arceo in a letter to the editor from the chairman of the Highlands Tea Party. This fellow said, “I am sorry, but till these students grow up, live 30-60-plus years on this planet, become more aware of the facts, they are not the ones to be telling grown adults what’s right or wrong.”

Considering that in 30 to 60 plus years, the Tea Partyist will be dead, and these students may be living on a planet barely habitable by humans, I find his argument short-sighted, to say the least. And like the many other adults with agendas not necessarily good for the world who are so ready to diss teenaged activists trying to save the world, this Tea Party letter-writer is mean-spirited.

As Greta would say, “Where are the adults?”

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