Ivanka Trump, Greta Thunberg
Holly Baxter, The Independent
Oh Ivanka — I feel for her, I do. I look forward to the day when she and Melania are released from the pact they made with a sea witch and are able to tell us the truth about what they were really thinking the whole time: Trump’s inauguration crowd was TINY! His love affair with Kim Jong-un was even creepier close up! The luminous yellow toupee is made from the hair of children on food stamps and stitched together with their mothers’ tears! Oh, the things we will hear.
Until then, however, we are stuck with Ivanka the moderating mouthpiece, the one who does all the emotional labour of trying to make her father’s pumped-up truth denial make sense. Ivanka doesn’t have the luxury of going out wearing a jacket that says I REALLY DONT CARE DO U during an immigrant detention crisis. Ivanka wants to be taken seriously; she wants the Trump brand to be taken seriously. She thinks of herself as a Kennedy rather than a Kardashian. And boy does she work for it.
While her father ranted about climate change activists being related to 15th century fortune tellers, Ivanka — who, it must be said, has a far better track record on environmentalism than her father — tried to steer the narrative back towards something resembling normality. “I’m not going to criticise anyone who’s bringing their energy and voices,” she said, of Greta Thunberg and her ilk, then added: “I believe in American innovation and global innovation. Only a purely pessimistic outlook is not going to help us solve the problem.”
The thing is that “pessimism” can actually sometimes be a great way to solve a problem. Call me crazy, but the doctor who reacts to “This patient is losing blood fast!” with “Get her to surgery now or something terrible could happen!” is always going to have my vote over the one who kicks back with a game of Fortnite and says, “Leave her. It’ll probably be fine.” I know it’s a real downer that greenhouse gases got out of control, but hoping that a smile and possibly a big backhander to a US corporation might get us out of it is about as helpful as believing that “thoughts and prayers” instead of gun control will stop school shootings.
Climate change deniers live off the language of optimism and pessimism. Ivanka isn’t a climate change denier, but her father patently flirts with it — and his rambling speech earlier this week called out “pessimism” alongside claims that “America is winning like never before” during a “roaring geyser of opportunity” (much like the roaring geyser of opportunity which will envelop us all if we continue marching, smiling, into the apocalypse).
You hear it out of the mouths of politicians across America, this idea that pasting on a happy grin might make the world stop heating up another 3 degrees and spontaneously combusting. Forest fires, floods, devastation, all that biblical stuff — they’ll tell you it probably won’t come to pass if you just cheer up a bit, while they fill their trucks with cut-price gasoline. They’re sick of the misery, they tell us, just so sick of the relentless misery and doom. If only they’d say that about proxy wars in the Middle East, but you can’t have everything. Perhaps if it weren’t a serious young woman who had been made the face of climate change activism, things would be different. Perhaps then the reaction would be a little less “but why don’t you just SMILE” and a little more “this man is a threat and a liar”.
But instead we’ve been left with this: Ivanka and her father, two perfectly turned out blondes with scarily white teeth, telling us that Greta Thunberg’s pessimistic outlook won’t get you anywhere. It worked for the US of A, didn’t it? America is WINNING, goddammit! Don’t have any healthcare? Just smile! Working three jobs and still unable to feed your kids? Just smile! Got a couple of kids currently cooped up in cages at the Mexican border with the winter flu? GOOD VIBES ONLY, libtards, we don’t need your snowflake tears at the presidential party.
Believe us, Ivanka and dad: if we thought we could get through this by making Greta Thunberg a bit more smiley in photos, we’d have tried it already.
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