Greta and the Twitterati

By: A.C.

I have long suspected that some “journalists” harbour viewpoints that are just bubbling below the surface as to what they really think about disability, with their keyboards being used to pump out their narrow biased attitudes in poisonous right–wing tirades.

Such was the case this week when the 16 year old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg arrived in the UK, to speak to the Extinction Rebellion Movement activists.

Ms Thunberg has Asperger’s Syndrome; started the movement that saw schoolchildren worldwide take an hour off school every Friday to protest about climate change, and has been nominated for a Nobel peace Prize, and is very focused on her mission.

She was interviewed on the Today programme on BBC Radio Four and spoke at the Houses of Parliament.

“Miss Thunberg, who says she gave up flying in 2015, traveled for two days by train to reach the UK”

“In the wide-ranging BBC interview, Miss Thunberg said that having Asperger’s had helped her in life: “It makes me different and being different is a gift, I would say. It also makes me see things from outside the box.”

“I don’t easily fall for lies, I can see through things. If I would’ve been like everyone else, I wouldn’t have started this school strike, for instance.”

Asked what she would say if she met US President Donald Trump, she said: “I can’t really say anything to him that he hasn’t heard before.

“Obviously he’s not listening to the science and to what we have to say, so I wouldn’t be able to change his mind.”

Then came the Twitteratii in the shape of Helen Dale.

Dale said: “Can the Beeb arrange for Andrew Neil to interview this Greta Thunberg character? Because afterwards I guarantee we’ll never hear from her again. She may even have a meltdown on national telly into the bargain”.

This is a journalist advocating seriously that a child with Aspergers be interviewed in a way that causes her to meltdown?

The negative Tweets of the week about Greta were collated at this website.

Then another from Brendan O’Neill at Spiked Magazine (Brendan also writes for the Irish Times.)

“Anyone who doubts that the green movement is morphing into a millenarian cult should take a close look at Greta Thunberg. This poor young woman increasingly looks and sounds like a cult member. The monotone voice. The look of apocalyptic dread in her eyes. The explicit talk of the coming great ‘fire’ that will punish us for our eco-sins. There is something chilling and positively pre-modern about Ms Thunberg. One can imagine her in a sparse wooden church in the Plymouth Colony in the 1600s warning parishioners of the hellfire that will rain upon them if they fail to give up their witches.

It actually makes sense that Ms Thunberg – a wildly celebrated 16-year-old Swede who founded the climate-strike movement for schoolkids – should sound cultish. Because climate-change alarmism is becoming ever stranger, borderline religious, obsessed with doomsday prophecies.”

The positive journalists who knew that Ms Thunberg had Aspergers reacted differently. At the Guardian Charlie Hancock said:

“To get satisfaction from an autistic person’s distress is callous. Like Thunberg, I believe autism can be a gift. It gives me drive and passion and the ability to see through rhetoric and think outside the box, as Thunberg told Robinson. Not every autistic person may feel this way – it’s a broad spectrum. Forty per cent of autistic people have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, such as selective mutism, with which Thunberg has been diagnosed. The same differences that can make autistic people unconventional and innovative thinkers make them vulnerable to bullying, which creates a vicious cycle of anxiety, meltdowns and abuse.”

Also at the Guardian Ian Birrell said:

“For we live in a society that, far from respecting difference, often seems to fear or ignore those that stand apart from the crowd. Look at how people with autism and learning disabilities are routinely abused, bullied, excluded from school, swept aside in the jobs market and shunted into the worst housing in the toughest parts of town. Hundreds suffer avoidable deaths in the National Health Service each year due to a lack of training for, or indifference of, medical staff, reflecting the insidious discrimination that corrodes our culture. Note how there is almost no debate over the ethics and implications of a dawning new age of eugenics, despite scientific advances that threaten to eliminate conditions such as Down’s Syndrome.

I have spoken to scores of families of girls with autism like Thunberg. Instead of being feted, these teenagers often end up locked in secure psychiatric units where they are forcibly drugged and violently restrained by adults. Some are shut in solitary confinement, even fed through hatches or with food dumped on the floor like dogs. One mother told me of how her daughter also became impassioned over injustice, focusing on human rights issues with a moral clarity and vigour that drove away friends and freaked out their parents. As her anxieties intensified in adolescence there was inadequate support. She ended up in both NHS- and privately run hellholes, learning self-harm from other patients, secluded and frequently restrained.”

I think my comments regarding the those who disrespect this focused and highly intelligent young woman should stay with me.

I know who I believe and want to listen to. Greta you’ve got my attention and support.

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