In these times, it is impossible to gauge how deep cynical positions can be maintained in order to support the continued profit of the elites. Last weekend’s commentary by Rob Roper, of the oil-funded Ethan Allen Institute, reaches a new low. He is blaming the epidemic of youth suicides on the public recognition of climate change and social breakdown.

Is this the oil industry’s new line of attack? Are we to now feel guilty that our children have recognized how much we have destroyed their future and therefore, stop talking about scientific and political reality? The kids are smarter than Roper gives them credit for. They can understand the physics and chemistry that lead to global heating.

They understand what systematic racism and economic division are creating a dystopia of oligarchic rule and downward mobility for the rest of us.

Of course, the Ethan Allen Institute celebrates the neo-liberal religion that states that markets are the arbiters of reality. The oligarchs deserve their obscene wealth because the market has decreed that value set. Instead of talking about the twisted truths of the future, Roper wants us to believe, “The world we live in is not the apocalyptic nightmare some would have you believe. The truth is we/you are lucky to be living in the least violent, most abundant, healthy, wealthy, peaceful time in human history. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. One of the safest places you will ever be is in your school.”

Is this man incapable of reading a scientific report? Is he clueless as to the growing realization that most youth now face a future of downward mobility as the oligarchs take more power? Our kids are actually wise enough to realize that the challenge to change things is theirs. With movements like Extinction Rebellion, they are stepping up to the plate to accept the challenge. Yes, some will be depressed and descend into addiction and despair. But a lot of others are embracing the challenge with the optimism and energy of youth. We must cheer them on.

Such a level of cynical propaganda, from libertarians like Roper, demands constant attack and destruction. That this is an “abundant and healthy time” is a lie of historic proportions and must be countered at every turn.

Dan Jones lives in Montpelier.

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