Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg was Time’s 2019 Person of the Year. Given the amount of bashing the 17-year-old has had to put up with from adults, she deserves another title: Punching Bag of the Year. Greta has been called more names than Donald J. Trump, Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un combined — or Hitler and Stalin, for that matter.

An article in The American Conservative magazine has tried to justify the attacks on Greta with a bit of sophistry. It argues: “Greta cannot be simultaneously old enough to voice her views on one of today’s most important issues and be too young to be criticized for the things she says.” The author, one Bill Wirtz, is implying that all criticism is valid. Hasn’t he heard of ad hominem, a form of argument in which one personally attacks another instead of focusing on the issue?

This type of logical fallacy threatens to dominate the entire climate change debate. Just consider the numerous labels pinned on Greta by those who, paradoxically, accuse her of being too emotional and too immature to understand what’s going on in the world. Sadly, the insults have come, not only from internet trolls and self-declared pundits, but from the conservative media and some world leaders. 

“silly hysterical girl”
“sick girl”
“just someone’s puppet”
“scowling teenager”
“a heroine whose virtue is anger”
“mentally ill puppet”
“a well trained and handled puppet”
“a pawn in an elite globalist agenda she doesn’t understand”
“Brat Out of Hell”
“Stupid little kant”
“a big joke”
“a little teenage girl with mental illness”
“a teen being manipulated by her parents”
“a little girl with a big ego”

“an evil conceited child”
“a useful fool”
“a mouthpiece for her activist parents”
“a deluded teenager”
“a Preventing Solutions Fraud”
“a paid shill out there to wreck the world”
“stupid idiot”
“weird Swede with a bad temper”
“child communist”
“mentally ill Swedish child”
“a political pawn being used by the left”
“little climate-brainwashed pit bull”
“a pawn and a fraud”
“a tool of the hoaxers”

One need not be a believer in man-induced climate change to see that such attacks are puerile and tasteless. Perhaps the most vicious are those that mock Greta for her Asperger’s syndrome. To Greta’s credit, she is candid about it and even declares it in her Twitter profile. She has handled the tsunami of personal attacks against her with unusual courage, maturity and class. Adults have a lot to learn from this girl.

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