The Kids Are Alright

Ken AshfordGun Control, Rightwing Extremism/ViolenceLeave a Comment

Wednesday, February 14, Valentines Day, 2018. Nikolaus Cruz, a troubled possible deranged right-wing gun nut, walks into Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida and opens up with his AR-15.  Seventeen people, mostly students, are dead.

It could have been like the Las Vegas mass shooting.  It could have been like Sandy Hook.  And by that I mean, it could have been a three or four day story.

But something happened. This one feels different.  Maybe it is because, unlike Las Vegas, they are gathered in the same community.  Maybe it is because, unlike Sandy Hook, the victims and their friends are old enough to speak out eloquently. But for whatever reason, the high school students of Parkland are not letting this one go.

In the days that followed the tragedy, the students have only grown louder. A group of five students appeared on several national news programs together on Sunday. One published an op-ed on CNN’s website. And on Sunday, the five student leaders announced they would be organizing a national March for Our Lives on March 24.

There is Emma Gonzalez.  Little did she know last week that her face and eulogy speech would be replayed all over the country, and that she would appear on, of all things, Meet The Press, to express her outrage and Trump, Rubio and the Republican governor of Florida.

In her speech, Gonzalez told people to vote out of office politicians who are funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA). According to the New York Times, one video of Gonzalez’s speech was viewed more than 100,000 times in just a few hours.

There is Jaclyn Corin. On Meet the Press, Corin said that before last week, she never imagined she would become a political activist.

After Wednesday, however, the high school junior has become a student leader and is starting by organizing a trip to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, with roughly 100 other students to speak with members of the state Senate, House of Representatives, and potentially Gov. Rick Scott (R).

The group will travel more than 450 miles to talk to 10 state senators and representatives from both parties Wednesday.

David Hogg was one of the first students to appear on national news after the shooting. In a clip that quickly circulated across the internet, the 17-year-old senior looked directly into CNN’s camera and pleaded with lawmakers to do something.

“We’re children,” he said. “You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together. Come over your politics and get something done.”

He has also said that he will not feel safe going back to school until lawmakers take action.

“What I’m looking for is reasonable change with the United States Congress and bills that are passed before I get back to school,” he said on Meet the Press. “This is not the time for inaction and debate.”

Hogg ended the segment by telling Trump that “blood is on your hands.”

And there are others:

Incredibly, there is a right wing backlash against these kids. David Hogg is now being targeted by Gateway Pundit, a far-right blog that has press credentials from the Trump White House. A post published on Monday by the site’s White House correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, features Hogg’s photo with the word “EXPOSED” stamped in red.

Wintrich says Hogg and other students throw up some “red flags.” The first “red flag” is that Hogg’s father is a retired FBI agent. (Hogg freely admitted this on national television.) The insinuation is that Hogg’s father, who does not even work for the FBI, has tasked his son with talking about gun control to take the heat off the agency.

Wintrich also uses an edited YouTube video of Hogg having some difficulty answering questions for a taped interview as evidence that Hogg is “heavily coached on lines and is merely reciting a script.” There is no evidence, in the video or elsewhere in the article, supporting this claim.

Wintrich then drops all pretenses and fully embraces the conspiracy:

Why would the child of an FBI agent be used as a pawn for anti-Trump rhetoric and anti-gun legislation? Because the FBI is only looking to curb YOUR Constitutional rights and INCREASE their power. We’ve seen similar moves by them many times over. This is just another disgusting example of it.

The Gateway Pundit story is spreading quickly on Facebook and has already been picked up by One American News Network, another right-wing outlet with White House media credentials.

Another Gateway Pundit story, authored by Kristinn Taylor, attacks Hogg and fellow students Delaney Tarr, Cameron Kasky and Emma González. The entire article attacks these students for smiling in a photo. 

The article is entitled “Student School Massacre Survivors and CBS Reporter Party Like Rock Stars.” But there is no evidence of any partying. Rather, at one point, the group, which was being interviewed for CBS’ morning show, smiled for a photo.

Donald Trump Jr. embraced the attacks, liking one of the tweets about Hogg.

The notion that Hogg is an FBI plant is insane, and easily refuted.  But it shows that the right is actually scared of these kids. They actually might make a difference this time.

Because God knows the adults aren’t doing anything.

Even former Congressman Jack Kingston joined in, and was rebuffed.

Recommended reading: Here’s What It’s Like At The Headquarters Of The Teens Working To Stop Mass Shootings

The truth is, Hogg is eloquent. And people stupider than him — gun owners — can’t handle it.

Update: David Hogg condemned the attacks in a statement to Buzzfeed:

“I just think it’s a testament to the sick immaturity and broken state of our government when these people feel the need to pedal conspiracy theories about people that were in a school shooting where 17 people died and it just makes me sick … It’s immature, rude, and inhuman for these people to destroy the people trying to prevent the death of the future of America because they won’t.”