If you are reading this, you probably have heard, at least tangentially, of Greta Thunberg, a sixteen year old Swedish girl who has achieve international fame as a face and voice of a climate-activist youth movement.

What you probably have not heard of, unless you pay attention to local NY City politics, is the climate protest rally that thousands of city school kids attended – with the permission and blessing of the Department of Education.

And, what you probably have not hear of either is the systematic transformation of the city’s public education system being attempted by its more -woke-than-thou chancellor, Richard Carranza. Undaunted by accusations (and lawsuits) that he’s shuffling qualified top executives out of their offices solely because they’re white, and unfazed by push-back against the lowering of standards for the elite schools or the proposed elimination of gifted programs, he’s now looking to reprogram the curriculum and institute “culturally responsive sustaining education” (CR-SE). CR-SE will supposedly “enhance student ‘consciousness’ in varying ways, from outlining racial privilege hierarchies to emphasizing a more diverse array of historical figures and events,” and “encompass neglected topics like the LGBTQ rights movements.”

All this while kids aren’t learning basic skills, schools are engaging in grade inflation and “shall-pass” policies, and generating an ever-growing list of failures, corruptions, mismanagements, and political machinations.

Add this to the toxically leftist climate on college campuses, where merely voicing a dissenting opinion can put one’s grades, prospects, and even physical safety at risk, and we witness a bleak picture: one where education has strayed from training of minds to filling them with dogma. Generations being indoctrinated instead of educated, solely for partisan power-acquisition.

Societies throughout time have relied on the wisdom of elders – wisdom accumulated across decades of life. Elder wisdom tempers not only the hot emotions of the young, it recognizes that the young are not fully formed – in thought, in knowledge, in temper, or in maturity. Societies don’t grant children and teens the right to sign contracts, to take on debt, to vote, to serve in the military, to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, to purchase certain pharmaceuticals, and so forth, because they recognize that children are not fully-formed humans.

Why, then, are we listening to them, and elevating their voices to importance?

We do witness, from time to time, a form of wisdom emanating from “the mouths of babes.” Fresh eyes, unshaded by years-developed biases, preferences, and cultural conditioning, can produce candid and unfiltered observations that older people either dare not say or do not see.

That’s not what’s going on here, though.

As Rich Lowry notes, young Ms. Thunberg is not offering “mouths of babes” wisdom, she is repeating what has been inculcated and indoctrinated by people that see nothing wrong with leveraging children to achieve policy goals.

Why use children?

Because it creates an extra obstacle for anyone who disagrees with the message. To refute what the child says is easily portrayable as an attack on the child herself, as if she cannot possibly be assigned an ulterior motive, as if her youth affirms both cleanliness of conscience and irrefutability of message. To disagree with the child is proof of one’s own dirty, selfish, and ulterior motive, in service of bad ideas and irresponsible acts.

Rationally considered, this is all nonsense. Greta Thunberg cannot possibly have a deeper understanding of climate matters than an educated, well-informed, and sufficiently focused adult.

But, if rationality were of high relevance in politics, the world would be a very different place.

And, if Greta Thunberg advocated for a different aspect of the climate debate, say the lukewarmist position I hold and have blogged about, I guarantee that she would not be garnering the adulation of the usual suspects. And, I suspect we’d never have even heard her name.

I was tempted to title this post “Churning Out Useful Idiots,” because that’s the agenda of woke-formational educrats like Carranza, but that’s unfair to the children. They are puppets in the Left’s bottomless lust for infinite power, and they’ve been so saddled with exaggeration after exaggeration of climate catastrophe that the normal emotional turmoil of youth has turned a time of hope and dreams into one fear and despair. This is the real crime and the real tragedy of the Greta Thunbergs in our culture.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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