"I don't put a lot of clout into the TIME Person of the Year. Keep in mind, Hitler and the Ayatollah were also the Person of the Year." That was Meghan McCain's response on Thursday's episode of The View, when the conversation moved to TIME's latest Person of the Year, teen activist Greta Thunberg. In just a few years, Thunberg helped to kickstart an international movement, inspiring students to walk out of their schools in protest, as well as appearing before world leaders to shame them into taking meaningful action against climate change.
McCain—who arguably owes her own career and platform to her association with her father—is extremely disappointed that the honor went to Thunberg. "It's hard for me to talk about Greta Thunberg because she’s 16, and I still don’t believe in attacking underaged people," she said. "I disagree with her, I think everyone knows how I feel about climate change as religion on the left, but I’m not going to attack a 16-year-old in the same way I don't agree with attacking Barron Trump."
McCain was referring to an incident during the House impeachment hearings when Professor Pamela Karlan used the name of Trump's youngest son to make a harmless pun ("the Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he cannot make him a baron"). Conservatives frothed with outrage in response, claiming that it was a breach of decorum to "attack" a child in such a way. First Lady Melania Trump tweeted, "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."
In lieu of Thunberg, McCain claims that the whistleblower, whose complaint sparked the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump, was more deserving of the cover. And to explain her feelings, McCain proved that she was right when she said it's hard for her to talk about Thunberg without attacking her: "I just didn't think she earned it in the same way that the whistleblower did when it comes to influence this year."
She went on: "I don’t agree with her as a choice, and I also think if you are 16, is this peak for her? What comes next? I mean, this is a high, high bar for her," McCain said, again, about a honor that she claims she doesn't think is significant. She added, “I don’t know how you can possibly live up when you are 17 when you’re already Person of the Year."
McCain's worries are the definition of "concern trolling," when you criticize something under the guise of caring. And it's why McCain pivots so quickly from saying that Thunberg doesn't deserve the honor to saying that being on the cover of TIME will lead to award burnout, or something.
Thunberg, of course, has repeatedly said she isn't interested in awards or trying to beef up her resume year after year. In October, she turned down the Nordic Council Environment Prize, saying, "It is a huge honor. But the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power to start listening to the current, best available science." She delivered the same message in September, when she and other youth activists spoke to Congress: "Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it, because it doesn’t lead to anything."
Most Americans care about climate change. So why can’t politicians in Washington do anything about it?
Originally Appeared on GQ