bronac ferran on Wed, 2 Oct 2019 11:34:08 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Wash Post: Greta Thunberg weaponized shame in an era of shamelessness

Many thanks for clarifying Molly.

All best wishes


On Wed, 2 Oct 2019 at 02:15, Molly Hankwitz <> wrote:

Admittedly, my argument as you call it was not perfectly worked out before writing. I admit it was joyful and excited—somewhat emotional and perhaps too spontaneous for a nettime audience accustomed to extremely careful social discourse. 

Obviously, many, including myself, admire all of these figures — and more in today’s ether. 

It seems I really messed up regarding GTs effects upon the US in her visit here. I think she’s great. Obviously, she is impactful and plays a role in discussions elsewhere. 

Clearly living in a miasma of spectacle. 

Thank you for the Guardian link. I look forward to reading any healthy critique. 


On Tue, Oct 1, 2019 at 3:31 AM bronac ferran <> wrote:
I was troubled reading your last few comments Molly in this post below. It seemed you were either  adopting what Suzanne Moore has called out as a patriarchal critique:
or trying to find another tone, based on a 'like' option, that seems leaves an equally chilling effect.
One way or another it has affirmed for me the current failure of nettime as Felix noted on the radio broadcast to offer any kind of counter-or anti-environment to what goes down on social and mainstream media. I may have misinterpreted your comment, but as Liz rightly, the thrust of your argument seemed weird. I also can't recognise any real understanding of performance art in your abstract adoption of the term 'no one'.

On Fri, 27 Sep 2019 at 04:42, Molly Hankwitz <> wrote:
Dear Ted and Felix, 

Thank you these links. I have been following Ms. Thunberg with a mix of rapt interest, admiration, and fabulous disbelief at her courage for some time. I have picked up, now, on some of the bile that Monica Hesse bites into which is being directed at Greta by such patrons of insanity as FOX and Breitbart and their White House cohort, Mr. T. 

What totally fascinates, and I’d agree with Felix here about some of the reasons and the “threat” itself as it’s perceived, is this absolutely stellar decade we are living in that we should find ourselves amidst the likes of Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Greta Thunberg. 

How is it that from out of today’s heady mix of problems - perpetual war, lying government, climate change ignorance —come these public figures who have swum upstream to surface and call out the lack of truth and justice? 

I find this so interesting —this age of networked publics, and social media and the advance of issues into a never-before witnessed - in the same mix of feedback loop — weird -tactical-media event (to borrow Wark’s phrase) that creates a critical outside - in globalized terms - Thunberg and Assange both from other countries yet directly energy to US. Is it correct to think of these persons as similar? They are almost like performance art. Spectacular but also sincere. No one wants or likes them. They may succumb to too harsh a light. 


On Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 7:49 AM tbyfield <> wrote:
[a little collaborative text-filtering]


Greta Thunberg weaponized shame in an era of shamelessness

By Monica Hesse
September 25 at 11:24 AM

A vocal cohort of fully grown human adults seems unable to deal with
Greta Thunberg.

The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, as you might have heard, gave
a scorching speech at the United Nations on Monday. "We are in the
beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and
fairy tales of eternal economic growth," she admonished a crowd of world
leaders. "How dare you."

Oh, but they hadn't even *begun* to dare.

That evening, pundit Michael Knowles went on Fox News and referred to
Thunberg, who has Asperger's syndrome, as "a mentally ill Swedish child
who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left."

On the Fox show "The Ingraham Angle," host Laura Ingraham compared
Thunberg's physical appearance to a character from a horror movie, then
quipped, "I can't wait for Stephen King's sequel, 'Children of the
Climate.' "

"I can't tell if Greta needs a spanking or a psychological
intervention," tweeted Breitbart columnist John Nolte. And, actually, if
you're in the mood to be unsettled, then I'll wait here while you search
Twitter for "Thunberg" and "spanking" and see how many middle-aged men
are eager to corporally punish a teenage girl.

Finally, as Monday evening drew to a close, the president of the United
States sarcastically rang in: "A very happy young girl looking forward
to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!"

By Tuesday morning, as a cheeky rejoinder, Thunberg had changed her
Twitter bio to President Trump's description.

Thunberg does not keep to the model of how we expect fresh-faced child
activists to behave. She is not interested in delivering a message of
hope or in standing behind a bill-signing politician in a chorus of
beaming youths. She is not interested in offering incremental solutions
for individual households, in urging consumers to switch to reusable
grocery bags or buy stainless-steel drinking straws.

She also does not seem particularly interested in using her activism to
make you like her. At one point in her U.N. speech, the audience
interrupted to applaud. Thunberg looked mildly irritated by the
interruption; she just wanted to get on with it.

What was she getting on with? With ruthlessly explaining just how badly
older generations have ruined things for her own. With castigating
politicians for focusing more on keeping power than heeding science.
With calling out liberals, too, like Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), who
benevolently told her at an event last week that young people would soon
have the chance to run for office themselves.

"We don't want to become politicians, we don't want to run for office,"
she responded. "We want you to unite behind the science."

At every turn, in every appearance, what she's interested in is making
her listeners feel shame.

We live in an era that has become impervious to shame. An era defined by
a president who views it as a weakness. Shame has become an antiquated
emotion and a useless one. It's advantageous, we've learned, to respond
to charges of indecency with more indecency: attacks, misdirection, faux

When Thunberg's noxious treatment began to get attention -- Fox News
apologized for Knowles's statement, calling it "disgraceful" -- some of
her defenders suggested that she drew so much scorn because she was
female. I'm sure that's part of it. The past few years have produced a
rash of books explaining how women's anger is historically belittled
while men's is seen as worthy of empathy. We have "effectively severed
anger from 'good womanhood,'" wrote Soraya Chemaly in "Rage Becomes

But I don't think that explains all of the reactions. Thunberg hasn't
been treated any more appallingly than Parkland student David Hogg, who,
in the course of lobbying for gun control, was labeled a shill and a
"crisis actor." He received death threats.

What Thunberg and Hogg have in common, along with others like Hogg's
classmate Emma González, is their utter lack of regard for our
feelings. They do not care if they make us feel bad; their entire point
is to make us feel bad. They don't need our votes; they're not elected
officials. They don't need our money; many of them live at home with
their parents.

With every public appearance, they are saying: This is what it would
look like, to be free to do the right thing. This is what you would say,
too, if you weren't beholden to donors or viewers, if you didn't have to
muster the right sound bites for your next reelection campaign, if you
weren't afraid of sacrificing some of your personal comfort for the
greater good.

Thunberg is saying: *Aren't you ashamed of yourself?*

And deep down, way deep down, in the place that stores unfamiliar
emotions, many of her audience members are.

This is the uplifting way to interpret the grotesque response to

She is a small, slight child wearing braids and using the best science
available to beg the adults in the room not to let her die. Not to let
animals die. Not to let the Earth die. Not to let everyone die. Anyone
who listens to all of that and immediately wants to punish or attack
Thunberg -- they're not having that reaction because they think she's
wrong, but rather because, deep down, they fear she is right.

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molly hankwitz 
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molly hankwitz 


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
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#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact:
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