It’s deja vu all over again for those of us who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s amidst the student protests over an issue that was responsible for the deaths of way too many young people.
Back then the issue was the Vietnam War and a draft that sent multitudes to fight an unwinnable war against an ideological enemy, communism.
Now it’s a fight against gun violence that is killing innocent students (and teachers, and coaches, and churchgoers, and concert attendees) in our own country while facing an ideological enemy called the National Rifle Association.
There were plenty of older law and order types back then condemning the unruly student protests that violated their sense of patriotism as they narrowly defined it, creating a generation gap with the young activists.
Today, many of the parents of the students feeling threatened by gun violence are marching with their children to call for sensible gun regulations and gun-free schools.
That the gap now is less generational and more political is proven by the comments made today by the Republican governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, about the national student walkout demanding action on gun control, as reported by The Hill.
Calling the student-initiated and led movement a “shameful” attempt by the left to push its own political agenda, McMaster sounded remarkably like the pro-war conservatives during the Vietnam era blaming protests on communist infiltrators.
“It appears that these school children, innocent school children, are being used as a tool by [this] left-wing group to further their own agenda,” McMaster said to South Carolina public television network ETV.
“This is a tricky move, I believe, by a left-wing group, from the information I’ve seen, to use these children as a tool to further their own means,” he continued. “It sounds like a protest to me. It’s not a memorial, it’s certainly not a prayer service, it’s a political statement by a left-wing group and it’s shameful.”
McMaster’s incredible insult to the students and their supportive parents — attributing their righteous anger at politicians, who would rather listen to their NRA campaign contributors than their own constituents, to their manipulation by vague, unnamed outside leftist groups — is typical of right-wing bubble-fed Republicans who are not nimble enough to recognize when the tide of public opinion has turned against them and swim desperately in the wrong direction.
With high school students across the country marching out of their classrooms for 17 minutes today to protest gun violence a month after 17 students and faculty were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, it’s obvious that this movement of revulsion and self-reckoning against America’s out of control gun culture is not fading away anytime soon.
David Hogg, one of the many student survivors of the Florida shooting who have become nationally recognized activists in the aftermath of the tragedy, said as much in his tweeted response to McMaster’s comments.
That's fine those future voters will not reelect you and outlive you too can't wait to see what the history textbooks our generation writes will have to say about people like you https://t.co/96wQvE1cNA *cough cough its called the first amendment.
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 14, 2018
Given how the perspective on the Vietnam War protests has shifted in hindsight, history will most likely not be treating McMaster, the Republican party, nor the NRA very well at all when the next set of textbooks are ready to be written.