Alt-right fanatics have declared war on students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have mobilized to demand that sensible gun controls finally be made the law in America after watching seventeen of their peers murdered by a budding white supremacist gunman and more than a dozen others injured,
The vicious, insidious, underhanded and mostly inaccurate attacks are bouncing around the right-wing echo chamber on Twitter, Internet sites, Reddit, Instagram and beyond spewing this poison on Tea Party websites, ultra-conservative news blogs like The Gateway Pundit and TV programs like Alex Jones Infowars and One America News Network.
The invective that these students are attention-seekers, dupes of the mainstream media, or most recently actors who have been scripted by some Deep State government agency has grown in recent days as these students have organized, mobilized and made their voices heard at rallies and on local and national media.
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Two of the most outspoken Parkland students, Emma Gonzales and David Hogg, are heavy fire and the subject of blistering attacks for speaking out.
The right-wing has questioned the motives of these teenagers for speaking out about the shooting and gun laws and criticized even their right to speak out.
Today, the effort to discredit these two kicked into even higher gear with bizarre false claims that they aren’t really students at the Parkland school, but are actors who spout anti-gun propaganda.
An aide to state Rep. Shawn Harrison, using state email, sent me this: "Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen." https://t.co/UFD1ZXGNjr
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018
Leary, who is Washington bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Times, has been trying to check with this aide to Harrison, a Republican in the Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives, but won’t have to look far for the truth.
Here's the email. I asked for more information to back up the claim and was sent another email that linked to a YouTube conspiracy video. pic.twitter.com/VRSVOcjj3E
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018
What the aide to Harrison was responding to was the noise in the right-wing echo chamber, which works like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Each time someone repeats that the teens are actors, it gains more credibility until even what should be a credible source like a member of the Florida legislature is buying into the b.s.
Karma caught up with the aide, Benjamin Kelly, almost immediately.
I’ve been terminated from the State House. I made a mistake whereas I tried to inform a reporter of information relating to his story regarding a school shooting. This was not my responsibility. I meant no disrespect to the students or parents of Parkland.
— Benjamin Kelly (@benakelly) February 20, 2018
The latest fake news sensation making the rounds is that Hogg is actually a plant by the FBI – and a “crisis actor” – because it is under siege for undermining Trump in the Russia investigation and failing to catch the shooter even when they had advance tip-off.
This gained credibility because Hogg’s father was in the FBI but now is retired.
Hogg does have some activist history. He was the school journalist who even as the attack was going on in Parkland interviewed his fellow students for a story about their experience and then their reactions.
Hogg has been attacked for being too articulate to be believable by the alt-right, who refuse to accept that an 18 or 19-year-old can speak so well and make important political points, probably because many of them cannot, even now.
Gonzales told People Magazine that they expected some criticism, but have found new energy in the response from the crowds of people who are hungry for their message.
She said that she has given up on Trump and other politicians ever coming around and announced that now it is up to a new generation to lead the way, starting with a “March For Our Lives” in Washington, DC in March.
Gonzales said a key goal will be to make sure politicians who take money from the NRA are not elected this November in the midterm elections.
“We don’t want these people in charge of us anymore,” she told People. “We have to be the politicians in this instance. We have to be the people calling for change and demanding a change.”
Now in her senior year in high school, Gonzales said until this happened she was counting down the next 110 days until her graduation and planning to major in science at a nearby college. But now that has all changed.
“We want to go back to school,” she added, unsure when the school will reopen. “We need to go back in session to show that this school will not be defined by its past. This school will be defined by its future.”
Her idealism is admirable, despite what the right wing might think. The idea that this new generation which has seemed to be uninterested in politics – aside from a brief flirtation in 2016 with Bernie Sanders – will now take an active role is a positive that comes out of this terribly negative situation.
However, it is to be seen how long that idealism lasts in the face of an obstinate, entrenched and unmoving Republican establishment with a lot of money to protect its powerful position.
The Parkland students got a taste of that bitterness in Tallahassee this week when a group was in the chamber gallery watching as the Sunshine State’s legislature voted on moving forward with plans for a law to ban the sale of assault rifles and large capacity ammunition magazines.
To the student’s horror, the motion was defeated in the overwhelmingly Republican chamber by 71 votes to 36 votes. Instead, the Republicans pushed forward a bill to place armed police in every school in the state at enormous cost.
The question becomes what happens now: Will it be like other tragedies where after a few days or weeks everyone forgets until the next horrible murderous event or will these students now shift the course of their lives to help America become a safer, saner place where lives matter more than money?
Whatever happens, the alt-right crows will be on the fence to attack those who don’t agree with them, the media will fumble for a middle position, and a hardy few on the left will work to defeat the NRA and right-wing billionaires who never go away.
Watching your friends be murdered may be just enough of a life lesson to actually bring positive change. We can only hope that is the case to honor the dead and protect the living.