Conservatives are deathly afraid that the activism inspired by survivors of the tragic school schooting in Parkland, Florida is working and will lead to their beloved guns being taken away.
That’s the only thing I can come up with, as I wonder what would lead any person, let alone power-wielding adults, to lob obscene, personal attacks at students who recently witnessed their peers gunned down in cold blood.
While millions of Americans are in awe of the poise, determination and activism of the young students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, many on the right side of the political spectrum aren’t so impressed.
I can understand that for many of these people, while feeling sympathetic for the students, they find themselves in disagreement with the policy positions they are advocating for in the fight for safer schools. Fair enough.
What I can’t understand, is how a certain contingent is taking that 10 steps further and flat out attacking the character, sincerity, looks and everything in-between of young people standing up for what they believe in.
Adults are afraid of these kids, plain and simple.
I can’t find any other reason that would explain attacks on the students. It seems to be a case of disagreeing with the method of protest solely because you are against the substance of what is being protested.
The idea that peaceful protest is celebrated in America has already been revealed to be a hollow platitude. Black activists have protested in every possible manner, only to find themselves criticized from as far up as the nation’s highest office. We know that there is no white-people-sanctioned method of protest for people of color in America, regardless of the issue at hand.
With the Parkland students, while the president at least pretended to listen to those protesting (“I hear you”), before walking back his most substantial policy offerings, others on the right have picked up the mantle of going as low as possible in not only discrediting and questioning the motives of the the Parkland students, but flat out attacking them.
From the start, most likely realizing the impact students who were old enough and determined enough to speak out would have, conspiracy theorists pounced, decrying “crisis actors” on social media.
The frightening part is that in our hyper-social, “fake news” filled world, the stories gained traction. And, the manufactured, fear-mongering stories continue to try and damage the reputation of the youth activists, with the most recent instance being a digitally altered video of student Emma Gonzales ripping up the constitution being shared all over right-wing social media.
Justy a sample of what NRA supporters are doing to teenagers who survived a massacre (real picture on the right). pic.twitter.com/czX7IHD8ur
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) March 25, 2018
It is easy enough to brush off the wave of conspiracy theories as reactionary, internet-fueled junk that almost always tends to pop up.
More disturbing has been the hot-takes of conservative pundits, prospective candidates, and “celebrities”.
Students: Organize multiple massive demonstrations around the country, force the conversation on gun control, lobby lawmakers for change.
Former GOP senator: Why don't they take responsibility and learn CPR or something. pic.twitter.com/45qd29NV3p
— Citizen Ed (@EdCitizen) March 26, 2018
Wherein a former Republican senator and presidential candidate suggests that “learning CPR” would be a good alternative to “doing nothing” by organizing massive marches, and leading dialogue to changing gun policy.
“This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish,” says an image shared by sitting representative Steve King, “and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self-defense.”
GOP Representative Mary Franson of Minnesota also went after the Parkland students, arguing that they shouldn’t be given an inch as their only goal is to take everyone’s guns away. She ended a series of social media posts critizing their activism with a quote seemingly comparing the students to nazi youth. She would later delete the post and her official facebook page.
Ron Beaty, A Republican County Commissioner attacked Hogg on Twitter, calling the student-activist a “self-promoting opportunistic rat”
While it was mildy surpising to hear such critiques come from former and current elected officials, the predictable wave of Fox news punditry did not disappoint.
Noted terrible human and racist-shit-sayer Laura Ingraham, decided to mock one of the more prominent voices coming out of Parkland, David Hogg, for his “whining” about being rejected from four colleges.
David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA…totally predictable given acceptance rates.) https://t.co/wflA4hWHXY
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) March 28, 2018
She wasn’t ready for the clapback, and is currently taking a little “vacation” from her show, amidst a wave of backlash and advertisers pulling out.
Further down the rabbit hole of right-wing, pseudo-celebrity talking heads is the case of pants-pooping, draft-dodging, racist person and NRA board member Ted Nugent. On a conservative radio show, he called the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas students “liars” and “poor, mushy-brained children.” Going on to say: “These poor children, I’m afraid to say this and it hurts me to say this, but the evidence is irrefutable, they have no soul.”
To be fair, Kyle Kashuv, a conservative Parkland student taking a different approach and arguing that more gun control is not the answer, also recently found himself criticized and perhaps insulted by journalist Kurt Eichenwald. Former employers Vanity Fair and MSNBC have distanced themselves from Eichenwald, although he has stated he was unaware that Kashuv was a student when he made his comments.
As disappointing as it is to see America reach a place where students engaging in peaceful protest and activism, specifically aimed at saving lives, are fair game for obscene, personal attacks, it’s been amazing to the see the poise with which they have handled said attacks.
Here’s to hoping for a return to civility at some point in the future. It’s fine to disagree with the survivors of the Parkland shooting and youth activists in general, but it just doesn’t seem that hard to show some sympathy for what they’ve been through and to act as a decent human being.