- Several well-known conservatives received backlash for making fun of 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has been vocal about having Aspergers.
- Fox News apologized after conservative commentator Michael Knowles said she was “a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”
- Fox News host Laura Ingraham also faced backlash when she compared the teen’s UN speech to the film Children of the Corn, while President Trump was criticized for a tweet about Thunberg that many felt was sarcastic.
Greta Thunberg’s UN Speech
A handful of prominent conservatives are receiving backlash for mocking and criticizing young environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
The 16-year-old Swedish girl first gained national attention last year when she started the Friday’s for Future movement. The movement encourages students and other young people all around the world to skip school on Fridays and hold climate strikes calling for global leaders to address climate change.
After leading a massive global strike this past Friday, Thunberg addressed the world in a powerful speech at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” Thunberg said. “Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
“And yet I’m one of the lucky ones,” she continued. “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you,” she added towards the end of her speech.
“And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Following her speech, Thunberg, along with 15 other kids from 12 countries filed a formal complaint with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. In it, they alleged that Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, and Turkey have violated child human rights by failing to adequately address climate change.
Response Applauding Greta
Many people took to social media to share the video of Thunberg and praise her.
Celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and George Takei chimed in on Twitter.
Politicians on both sides also cheered on Thunberg, like Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who referred to Thunberg’s speech as “A must watch plea to world leaders.”
Former Republican Governor John Kasich also commended the young activist in a tweet.
“She should be praised and viewed as an example of how change really happens — from the bottom up,” he wrote.
Michael Knowles Remarks
Others, however, publicly criticized Thunberg and her movement.
“The climate hysteria movement is not about science,” conservative commentator Michael Knowles said on Fox News on Monday. “If it were about science, it would be led by scientists, rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”
The other guest on the show, progressive podcast host Chris Hahn, responded by condemning Knowles’ attack on Thunberg.
“You’re a grown man and you’re attacking a child. Shame on you. She’s trying to do what she thinks is right,” Hahn said.
“I’m not, I’m attacking the left for exploiting a mentally ill child,” Knowles responded.
“Now, relax, skinny boy. I got this. You’re attacking a child, you’re grown man, have some couth when you’re on television,” Hahn retorted, before asking Knowles to apologize to Thunberg.
Knowles did not apologize, instead, he continued to defend his remarks.
“I think the international left and her parents who are exploiting a girl with many mental illnesses, and her parents wrote about those mental illnesses in a book,” he said. “She has autism, she has obsessive-compulsive disorder, she has selective mutism, she had depression.”
“You are despicable,” Hahn said.
Knowles Receives Backlash
Many condemned Knowles on social media after the interview. Some pointed out that Thunberg has been very vocal about the fact that she has Aspbergers, something that she has embraced and referred to as her “superpower.”
Autism organizations also condemned Knowles’ remarks.
“It’s absolutely unconscionable to attack someone for their disability, especially when that person is a child,” Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network told the Hollywood Reporter.
“History is full of autistic people and people with other cognitive disabilities who were and are compelling, credible activists and leaders,” she continued. “Greta is a part of that tradition, and our community is lucky to have her. Period.”
Fox News later apologized for the incident.
“The comment made by Michael Knowles who was a guest on The Story tonight was disgraceful — we apologize to Greta Thunberg and to our viewers,” the network told The Washington Post in a statement, also adding that they had “no plans” to book Knowles again.
Knowles, however, still doubled down and defended himself in a series of tweets.
“There is nothing shameful about living with mental disorders. Your suggestion to the contrary is not only wrong but deeply offensive,” he wrote.
“Children should never be exploited for political purposes, and mentally ill children are particularly vulnerable,” he added in a later tweet.
Other Conservative Get Backlash for Remarks
Knowles was not the only well-known conservative voice who received backlash for comments they made about Thunberg.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham showed part of Greta’s speech to the UN, then compared her to the movie Children of the Corn.
“I can’t wait for Stephen King’s new sequel, Children of the Climate,” Ingraham said.
Her remarks garnered a lot of backlash from people on social media, including Ingraham’s brother, Curtis Ingraham, who condemned his sister in a tweet.
“Clearly my sister’s paycheck is more important than the world her three adopted kids will inherit,” he wrote. “I can no longer apologize for a sibling who I no longer recognize. I can and will continue to call out the monstrous behavior and the bully commentary born out of anger.”
Conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza also received a lot of heat for comparing Thunberg to a Nazi in a tweet posted over the weekend.
Even President Donald Trump chimed in, seeming to make fun of Thunberg by sharing a video of her speech on Twitter and writing “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
Thunberg appeared to mock Trump back by changing her Twitter bio to “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Daily Beast)
Doctors Arrested After Attempting to Give Migrants Free Flu Shots
- At least two doctors were arrested after laying down and protesting in front of the U.S Customs and Border Protection’s San Diego headquarters.
- Those doctors, along with others demonstrating on the sidelines, wanted to be allowed to give free flu vaccinations to migrants detained in a nearby short-term detention facility.
- CBP officials denied the request, saying it was against policy and arguing that migrants are only held in that facility for 72 hours, but the agency later promised to pass on the request to CBP’s chief medical officer.
Doctors Push Vaccine Program Request
After three days of protests, doctors wishing to give flu shots to detained migrants have found some success, even after at least two were arrested during demonstrations.
On Wednesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials eased tensions after meeting briefly with protest leaders. In that meeting, officials told protesters that they would pass on a request to start a pilot program that would allow doctors to vaccinate detained migrants at a San Diego facility.
That request has now been forwarded to CBP’s chief medical officer, with officials telling the doctors to expect a follow-up call later this week.
The concession comes after an event Monday, where around 20 medical doctors walked up to a short-term migrant detention center in San Diego. Reportedly, those doctors carried coolers full of vaccines and were hoping to inoculate at least 100 individuals in the facility; however, they said they would vaccinate all willing migrants.
At the center, they were told to come back the following day to meet with border officials. When they reportedly again asked to be allowed to vaccinate migrants on Tuesday, CBP told them no.
“This is intentional cruelty,” Marie DeLuca, an emergency medicine research fellow, said. “People are needlessly suffering and dying. You can’t lock people up in inhumane conditions, watch them get sick, and then refuse them access to medical care.”
After being denied, they began to demonstrate outside of the Border Patrol headquarters. Six people then laid in front of the headquarters’ driveway, with others on the sidelines chanting: “Shame on you!”
Federal Protective Service officers gave those people a six-minute warning to get up, but they were eventually arrested when they refused. That group reportedly included at least two doctors.
Those people were soon released after being given a notice to appear in federal court and a citation “for failure to comply with the lawful directions of a federal police officer.”
California Border Patrol Says Vaccinations Don’t Align With Standing Policy
Later that day, the Department of Health and Human Services Press Secretary tweeted, “Of course Border Patrol isn’t going to let a random group of radical political activists show up and start injecting people with drugs.”
The CBP also told multiple news outlets that it has never vaccinated migrants in its custody because most migrants will either be released or transferred to a different federal agency within 72 hours of being detained. Because of that, a spokesperson said that “operating a vaccine program is not feasible.”
However, short-term detention centers are becoming increasingly congested, and many are struggling to push migrants through that three-day window. Border Patrol has even admitted to holding hundreds of children way past that date. Currently, the average wait time is about six days, twice the legal wait time.
Additionally, that spokesperson noted that long-term detention centers run by ICE and the Department of Homeland Security do vaccinate migrants.
“We would encourage those who wish to volunteer medical services to go to shelters and NGO facilities, both in the U.S. and in Mexico, to donate their time and services,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Although it has refused to offer flu shots, the CBP did say it followed a CDC recommendation to hire more nurses and physicians assistants, including increasing its staff from about 20 a year ago to 250 as of now.
Wednesday morning, Senator Kamala Harris tweeted about the incident, saying, “It makes no sense to deny flu vaccines to immigrant children in U.S. custody.”
The American Civil Liberties Union also responded to the tweet from the DHS Press Secretary later than evening.
“When our government refers to doctors as “radical political activists” and flu vaccines as “drugs,” it becomes clear how far we’ve slipped from the realm of reality.,” it said.
Migrant Children Are Dying of Flu at Higher Rates
Doctors for Closed Camps said it decided it wanted to distribute vaccines following a recent wave of migrant children dying from the flu either while in government custody or soon after their release. In August, it was reported that six migrant children had died, with three of those children dying from the flu.
In a letter penned by doctors with Harvard and Johns Hopkins, those doctors said, “Influenza deaths are fairly rare events for children living in the United States.”
“While comparisons are difficult for many reasons, this rate of death from influenza appears to be substantially less than the rate in detention facilities,” they added.
Last week, ProPublica obtained and published footage of the final moments of one of those children, 16-year-old Carlos Hernandez Vasquez.
In the video, Vasquez can be seen collapsing in his cell. According to Propublica, no guards ever came to check on them. Later, Vaquez gets up and goes to the bathroom, but again, he collapses.
According to the report, this is the last time he was ever seen moving. The video then goes blank for a few hours, with guards reportedly conducting three wellness checks in that time.
When the video starts again, Vasquez is in the same position. A cellmate later woke up to find Vasquez laying in the bathroom. He then called for a Border Patrol agent, who found that Vasquez did not have a pulse.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The San Diego Union-Tribune) (Fox 5 San Diego)
Trump Slammed Over Latest Tweet About Greta Thunberg
- After 16-year-old Greta Thunberg was named Time’s Person of the Year, President Donald Trump posted a tweet saying the teen must “work on her anger management problem.”
- Many criticized Trump for mocking Thunberg just a week after his wife slammed a law professor for using their teenage son’s name as a punchline.
- Others have instead pointed to his own temperament as a point of hypocrisy.
“Chill Greta, Chill“
President Donald Trump posted another controversial tweet about climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg on Thursday, prompting a new wave of backlash and accusations of hypocrisy.
On Wednesday, Thunberg was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year after earning international attention for calling on leaders to combat the climate crisis.
“So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!” Trump wrote early Thursday in response to a tweet congratulating the teen for the recent honor.
Following the President’s tweet, Thunberg updated her Twitter bio to describe herself as: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”
This is now the second time the president has shared this type of message about Thunberg online. Following her infamous remarks at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September, Trump tweeted a seemingly sarcastic message that read, “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
At the time, Thunberg also changed her Twitter bio to include the president’s comments.
Trump Faces Accusations of Hypocrisy
However, this time around, Trump’s tweet has received even more criticism considering his wife’s recent stand against the treatment of her minor son.
Just last week, First Lady Melania Trump slammed Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan for dropping a joke during her impeachment hearing testimony that included the name of 13-year-old Barron Trump.
“The constitution says there can be no titles of nobility,” Karlan said. “So while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”
The FLOTUS quickly took to Twitter to condemn Karlan for the remark, writing, “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.”
Karlan apologized for her joke later that day, but many people came to her defense arguing that Melania Trump has remained largely silent about her husband’s treatment of minors, including Thunberg and migrant children at the border.
Many of those same critics also pointed out that Trump’s aggressive rhetoric goes against the first lady’s Be Best initiative which focuses on the well-being of youth and advocates against cyberbullying.
So after Trump’s latest tweet about the young activist, many took to Twitter to point at what they considered another example of hypocrisy. Some also hit back at Trump’s “anger management” comment by criticizing his own temperament.
Speaking of Anger Management problem…— Pry My Happy Holidays from My Cold web rant🍑🌿❄️❄ (@web_rant) December 12, 2019
Always. Be. Projecting. pic.twitter.com/uQbhB3eiNa
Fortunately Trump is a very, very stable genius, without any, any, any… anger management problem… 🤣😂🥳 pic.twitter.com/gPbl5EM6WC— Mathias Flammang (@matflamm) December 12, 2019
The tweet sparks so much discussion that #BeBest became the No. 1 trending Twitter topic worldwide.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (The New York Times) (Newsweek)
Youth Pastor Who Smacked Reporter’s Butt on Live TV Speaks Out
- The runner who was caught on camera smacking a reporter’s behind during live coverage of a race has been identified as Tommy Callaway, a youth pastor and Boy Scout leader.
- In an interview with Inside Edition, Callaway said he made a “misjudge in character” and says he was not aware of where exactly he had “touched” the reporter, Alex Bozarjian.
- Bozarjian has condemned his behavior and filed a police report, meanwhile, local race officials banned him from future races.
Smack Video Goes Viral
A runner who smacked a Georgia reporter’s behind during a live news segment spoke out on Tuesday in his first television appearance since the viral incident.
The smack happened Saturday when WSAV-TV reporter Alex Bozarjian was covering the annual Savannah Bridge Run. Several participants waved at the camera as they ran by during her segment, but one man decided to smack Bozarjian on her backside before sprinting away.
Bozarjian was visibly shocked by what happened as she tried to get back to her live report.
A Twitter user shared a clip of the incident that quickly went viral. Bozarjian eventually shared that post with her own statement, writing, “To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me. No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better.”
The incident sparked outrage from Twitter users who were disgusted by the behavior and received notable attention from fellow reporters.
Race officials were also quick to condemn the runner’s behaviors. The director of the Savannah Sports Council, Robert Wells, told Bozarjian the incident was “100% unacceptable” and said the organization would identify the man.
Alex, what happened today is 100% unacceptable. You have my assurance we will identify him.— Robert Wells (@RobWells1) December 7, 2019
The following day, the organization announced that it had banned the runner from registering for all of its future races.
News outlets and social media users later identified the runner as Tommy Callaway, a 43-year-old married father of two who is both a youth minister and boy scout leader, according to his Facebook and Linkedin profiles.
Callaway’s lawyer, Joseph Turner, released a statement on his behalf to WTOC Monday, saying his client is a “loving husband and father who is very active in his community.” He added that Callaway was “working with those involved to correct the situation.”
“While we regret the situation, Mr. Callaway did not act with any criminal intentions,” Turner said.
Callaway’s TV Appearance
That same day, Callaway appeared on Inside Edition to further explain what happened. “I was getting ready to bring my hands up and wave to the camera, to the audience, and there was a misjudge in character and decision-making. I touched her back. I did not know exactly where I touched her,” he said.
Callaway added that he took the reporter’s words to heart. “I totally agree 100 percent with her statement and the two most important words were her last two words, ‘Do better,’ and that’s my intention.”
“I did not see her facial reaction as I just kept on running. If I did see her facial reaction, I would have felt embarrassed and ashamed and stopped and turned around to apologize to her.”