President Donald Trump crossed paths with Greta Thunberg at a U.N. climate summit in New York on Monday, and the moment quickly went viral.
Earlier in the day, Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist, delivered an emotional speech accusing world leaders of destroying her future with their inaction on climate change.
“This is all wrong,” said Thunberg. “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope? How dare you!”
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg added. “And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
After her speech, Thunberg happened to be in the lobby of U.N. headquarters when Trump arrived. Her scowl was captured by news cameras from around the world as they clamored around the president.
Trump showed little interest in the whole scene. According to the White House pool report, he spent about 14 minutes at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, which saw world leaders pledge action to stop climate change. He did not make a formal statement.
When the internet saw Donald Trump meet Greta Thunberg
However, internet commentators had plenty to say about the “meeting.” Both right and left hailed Reuters’ footage, in particular, as a masterpiece.
Helen Rumbelow, a reporter at The Times in London, called for the cameraperson to receive a “lifetime award for this literal and symbolic focus pull, under pressure.”
— Helen Rumbelow (@HelenRumbelow) September 24, 2019
Many progressives said they related to Thunberg’s seeming antipathy toward the president― a skeptic of climate science who has rolled back environmental rules and initiatives and vowed to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord.
I felt that pic.twitter.com/0uuYf94COb
— marv (@mrvndn) September 23, 2019
Meanwhile, conservative pundit Benny Johnson called a meme of the Trump-Thunberg moment the “Greatest GIF in human history.”
Johnson said Trump’s apparent disregard for the teen, who he said was being exploited by the left, “demonstrates how all Americans should treat annoying, foreign, communist propagandists on our soil.”
Greatest GIF in human history.
Trump demonstrates how all Americans should treat annoying, foreign, communist propagandists on our soil — ignore them.
SHARE if you are also sick of the left abusing & brainwashing innocent children to use them as political props pic.twitter.com/qHLpHkf1HP
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) September 23, 2019
Although Trump did not acknowledge Thunberg in person, he later commented on her speech in a tweet that many took to be mocking her.
She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see! https://t.co/1tQG6QcVKO
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2019
It was unclear how Thunberg, who sailed from the United Kingdom to New York to minimize her “carbon footprint,” planned to return home.