* rule by children **rule by the worst
Today marks a day of global youth protests to urge immediate action on climate change.
But not in New York City, where there had been a plan to release its 1.1 million public school students to attend protests, provided they had their parents’ permission...until the city’s Education Department ruled that employee participation would violate rules ensuring a “politically neutral learning environment.” And if any school staged its own walkout to protest climate inaction, the same proscription would apply.
A politically neutral learning environment, on the surface, sounds like the proper way to educate children in a democracy. But aren’t there times when educators and educated people in general need to take a stand on something that they know better than others?
If I were teaching world history, would I have to hold my tongue when I speak of Hitler or Stalin? Could I call Heinrich Himmler a murdering butcher or do I have to add that he once ran a chicken farm and his eggs were quite tasty.
If I were teaching science, could I simply say we live in a heliocentric world that’s 13.8 billion years old, or do I have to give an opposing point of view—that everything revolves around the earth which just kinda showed up here 6,000 years ago? Like a window replacement salesman.
This is the age of political correctness absurdly adulterated by a Trumpian ignorance—a refusal to accept the most undeniable truths if they don’t conform with some wingnut belief. Biggest crowd in history (pictures say no), the wall is going up fast (no, again, we have pictures), the hurricane is hitting Alabama (no we have pictures, one of which you drew.)
In all fairness to the Education Department in the City, many poor children whose parents could not afford daycare might have missed out, and certainly some would parlay their permission into a day at the beach—it is, after all, a nice day, and there is still sand between us and the water. But the original effort—inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist, was honorable, and the people who will suffer from the asininity of the Trump environmental policies are the very children forbidden from attending.
By 2050, the year many claim to be a crucial time for the warming earth, I’ll either be 105 or no number. Either way, rising sea levels will hardly affect me. But right around then Ms. Thunberg and countless other 16-year-olds may be raising her own teenager in a much less hospitable world—one which we can do something about now. They'll wonder why we didn't.
Listen to Trump talk. Do you ever hear him consider children, their future, what kind of world he wants them to inherit. Of course not—unless it's some brutal method of keeping them out of the country. He doesn't see beyond the 2020 election. It’s up to us to see it for him, to show our kids—as parents and teachers—that there are some indisputable truths in the scientific world.
A meteorologist in Tornado Alley warning residents to take cover is in the same general business as the climatologist who tells us to stop burning so damn much fossil fuel. Residents of Oklahoma heed the weather warnings and jump into their storm cellars because the threat is imminent. Not so with climate change. Maybe it's too gradual, worsening by fits and starts. But I’ll bet that even though climate deniers can’t actually see the sun moving through the sky, they’d be quite shocked if it didn’t rise again next morning. It's too bad they can't apply that same faith to other scientific data.
I'm glad so many young people are interested in climate change—it is after all their future. But as with guns, the adults are supposed to provide guidance and leadership, role modeling, so that if a young person does watch the TV news, he has something to counterbalance the fool talking about clean coal or drawing hurricane strike probablities on a weather map with a Sharpie.