The age of ageism – vote for young MP while she still knows everything

25-year-old New Zealand MP Chlöe Swarbrick has won fame on social media after this week dismissing an elderly Parliamentary heckler with the ‘viral quip, “OK boomer’”; the derogatory expression, ‘which refers to the baby-boomer generation’, has ‘gained popularity among young people on social media in recent months as a way of brushing off the views of older generations perceived to be out of touch, condescending or closed-minded’; although it ‘appeared to fly over the heads of MPs in the house at the time’, it gained in popularity as ‘clips were shared on social media it made headlines, with messages streaming in from young supporters’ (“’OK, boomer” quip by New Zealand MP, 25, goes viral’, November 8, 2019).

Ms Swarbrick’s generation has been raised on ‘respecting diversity’, but it seems that this respect does not extend to those older than herself; however, she told news website that the expression “’is symbolic of the collective frustration that young people in particular feel to placing evidence in fact time after time in the debate … and being met with dogma.’” Perhaps the heckler, who ‘began to jeer from his seat’ as she spoke, was signalling his opinion of her mangling of the English language, but if she meant that the closely-reasoned arguments that she and other young people put forward are simply ‘met with dogma’, the boot is on the other foot, for it is the ‘snowflake generation’ that is fleeing from genuine debate; and responding to jeers with insults is not a reasoned argument, but just another way of avoiding it.

A Green Party MP, she was interrupted when speaking ‘in support of a bill to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gag emissions to net zero by 2050’, arguing: “’How many world leaders for how many decades have seen and known what is coming, but have decided that it is more politically expedient to keep [climate change] behind closed doors? … My generation and the generations after me do not have that luxury. In the year 2050 I will be 56 years old … Yet, right now, the average [age] of this 52nd parliament is 49 years old.’” It does not seem to have occurred to her that it might be politically expedient for governments to demonise elderly voters while slavishly listening to the lectures of 16-year-old Swedish eco-evangelist Greta Thunberg; indeed, never a week goes by in the UK without reading about the greed, stupidity and fecklessness of the older generations, who have become a convenient whipping boy to distract from the blunders and misguided policies of successive governments (‘Baby boomer Britons are drinking an average of 108 bottles of win a year’; ‘Obesity “could bankrupt NHS” as diabetes drug spending soars’, Telegraph, November 8, 2019).

Who would take notice of anything such stupid, drunken old slobs had to say about the environment – or anything else, for that matter? They should probably not have the vote at all, but should surrender it to 16-year-olds who, according to some campaigners are ‘disenfranchised’ by virtue of their tender years. Speaking as a non-drinker, someone else must be imbibing my share of wine, but even if they are, their purchases are helping to keep other people – probably much younger people – in work, and keeping the economy going in order to keep Ms Swarbrick and her generation in the style to which they seem to have become so accustomed that they take it for granted. So used are they to obtaining electricity at the flick of a switch that they imagine it is possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero – the feasibility of which is disputed by scientists, along with the so-called ‘climate emergency’ – and run their cars and mobile phones on wind power. Granted we have a problem with rubbish disposal, but that is a completely different matter and a problem of economic success that the poorer nations of the world would happily endure.

Ms Swarbrick seems to think that ‘baby boomers’ have ‘trashed the planet’; perhaps she does not realise that people growing up in the 1940s and 1950s in countries that were struggling to overcome the privations of the War years were not living in clover. For most of us, biscuits, cakes and sweets were occasional treats; people ate at home (dining on real food, not takeaways or pre-prepared meals), not in restaurants; they made and mended their own clothes. I have no idea how many aeroplane flights Ms Swarbrick undertakes in her important political work, but back then most people were lucky to get one week’s holiday per year at the nearest seaside resort; bicyles were many, cars were few.

But there was also robust political debate; it is her generation that cannot stand criticism and would silence and ‘de-platform’ those who disagree with them – but then throw insults when it suits them. And far from criticising people for their actions or their views, which they can help, they criticise people for their age, which they cannot help. Just as Ms Swarbrick cannot help being 25, other members of the human race cannot help being 65, 75, 85, or 95. The only alternative to the sin of growing older is to die, and perhaps the green movement will make euthanasia compulsory, along with compulsory birth control, to minimise our ‘carbon footprint’. Ms Swarbrick herself would be regarded as ancient by Greta Thunberg’s generation, and if she and her fellow Greens cannot see that they too will be dismissed when they reach a certain, ‘unsustainable’ age, they must be even greener than we thought.


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