Greda Thunberg has become the public defender of the earth.
Capitol Hill treats the Swedish 16-year-old well enough but ignores her terminally ill defendant. This whole important and critical visit is a sexist snub by our Commander-in-Chief President Donald Trump and Capitol Hill. But such baseless pomp and circumstance may have become our lawmakers’ forte.
Look good, say anything, but do nothing. Nothing is what they will exactly do. Why is this? Capitol Hill and Trump could care less about kids, and whenever kids are used politically, and I mean politically, they are only used politically.
This is not about bashing conservative or democratic voters. It’s about just how greedy and self-centered Capitol Hill’s political machine has become. When the nation no longer cares about youth, the future of the country, it has already killed democracy. Caring less about children did not start with climate change, however.
Caring less has its roots with race: as a well-known scholar put it. We should not be able to tell the education, health and life expectancy of an American child by their skin color in a delivery room or by looking at their zip code.
As scholar Michelle Alexander put it, we have more African American men behind bars than all that were in slavery in 1850, and according to the National Center for Children and Poverty, 21 percent of children in the United States live in poverty and almost 45 percent are low income. The Center notes that the most major threat to kids’ future is poverty.
But Capitol Hill and President Trump not only ignore American kids, but they also imprison kids in cages, fires tear gas at them, and is accused of letting thousands of children get sexually abused while in detention centers.
Greed is Good and so Isn’t the “Environment”
Capitol Hill works for the privileged, where poverty is seen as some kind of fake freak show to laugh at. Call children in war-torn Syria skittles. Call those running away from violent gangs and corruption criminals and stand complacent as school kids are gunned down.
Did the U.S. not sell its soul to the devil?
The U.S. has one of the worst income disparities in the world that mimics more of an oppressive regime than a democratic republic. Consider this, with poverty comes crime, the United States ranks 14th in the world for homicide; North Korea ranks 29th and Canada, our close neighbor, 80th.
Capitol Hill’s failure to introduce any kind of gun legislation after so many kids died in mass shootings and urban crime shows whose hands are in our politician’s pockets. Even the maker of the AR-15 rifle has done more by deciding to end civilian production of the weapon as a U.S. News and World Report confirmed.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, only 10% of Americans have 2/3rds of all U.S. wealth. Capitol Hill is employed by the 0.01%; 1 in 2 members of congress are millionaires, as Dave Gilson and Carolyn Parot report in Mother Jones.
Capitol Hill, whether Democrat or Republican, does not work for kids, not even rich kids, just their parents. Sadly, as we approach another likely recession, the 1% made out so well from the last housing crisis that they are sure to do just as well when the next disaster comes for most parents and children. Nice kids so often finish last.
Children Should Choose Their Parents Carefully; A Country, Its President
And what about the American dream?
Those nearly 45% of all kids that are low income in the U.S. can bet on one thing. When their parents are born with poverty, there is no catching up in education. Those that start out behind will have a life of hardship and of making less according to the Economic Policy Institute. I know. In the time I spent in prisons, most inmates did not even have a GED and almost 70% of the population was technically illiterate.
So when Greta Thunberg approaches Capitol Hill to demand that adults be adults, she is seen as only a cute photo op, a necessary chore to take care of quickly, one to be given praise and empty promises, much like when our parents told us to share, even though they never share with other adults.
Capitol Hill does not care if the Amazon is one fire. It does not care about the increased risk of flooding, natural disasters, and a plastic-filled ocean. It does not care that the national security of the United States may be in jeopardy. Our lawmakers only care about kids when it serves their own interests more than the kids’ interests.
For Trump to make war with California and with environmental protection just as Thunberg was making her mark in Washington sends the ultimate statement without even needing a charged tweet:
A message to Thunberg: The United States could care less about kids. We are too busy playing golf on our insecticide-covered green.
Earl Yarington (LMSW) is a social worker and school bus driver. He taught literature and writing for nearly 20 years and spent 3 years working in forensic social work internships with offending populations, including work at Delaware Correctional facilities and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He has a PhD in literature and criticism (feminism/women writers) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Master of Social Work from Louisiana State University, and an interdisciplinary Master of Liberal Arts from Arizona State University, where he studied the impact of visual image and girlhood in media/social media. He also has an MA and BS in English from SUNY College at Brockport. The opinions and analyses that Earl writes are his own and are not necessarily the positions or views of his employers, the agencies he supports, or that of his colleagues. Reach out with comments or questions.