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Regardless of one’s position on this matter, one thing is certain: These activists are engaging, compelling, respectful, persuasive, and unwilling to take no for an answer. Oh, and did I mention inspiring? They not only want action but demand it. Their ability to organize a movement of this magnitude coupled with the movement’s tenacity serves as a testament to what can be accomplished when people in this nation become engaged in any cause.
And, regardless of party affiliation, one would think, these young adults’ work would be recognized and even welcomed into the political and democratic debate and fabric of our society. The problem is their work and effort is not equally valued by all. Consider the tepid statement issued by White House spokesperson, Lyndsay Walters:
“We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today,” Walters said. “Keeping our children safe is a top priority of the president’s, which is why he urged Congress to pass the Fix NICS and STOP School Violence Acts, and signed them into law.”
What the White House fails to realize is that these modest initiatives are not viewed by those within this movement as substantial enough. This is precisely why they are protesting.
For his part, Mr. Trump failed to acknowledge those gathering in the Capitol and around the nation through his usual medium of choice: Twitter. Trump did, however, manage to find the fortitude to address the people of France as the rallies were picking up steam, regarding a terror incident that took place on Friday in that nation, where a police officer exchanged his life for the life of a hostage. Offering the traditional “thoughts and prayers,” Republicans are wont to provide in all manner of crises while cheapening the phrase, Mr. Trump told the people of France the following:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the horrible attack in France yesterday, and we grieve the nation’s loss. We also condemn the violent actions of the attacker and anyone who would provide him support. We are with you
So much for “America First,” huh?
Adding insult to injury, Mr. Trump left Washington late Friday and headed off to his Mar a Lago resort for yet another weekend away from the White House. It has also been reported by the Washington Post that Mr.Trump’s motorcade took a longer route back to his estate avoiding his usual route, on Saturday, avoiding protesters involved with the March For Our Lives demonstration against gun violence assembled at Dreher Park, located just forty minutes away from the Parkland shooting which took the lives of seventeen children just a few weeks ago.
Speculation abounds as to whether the longer route was purposeful or not and the White House has not responded to requests for an explanation.
Contrast this response with that of former President Barack Obama on Twitter. The former President said earlier Saturday:
“Michelle and I are so inspired by all the young people who made today’s marches happen. Keep at it. You’re leading us forward. Nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.”
With a nation seemingly divided over the second amendment, Mr. Obama is right to commend these young people today, and apparently as of the printing of this article 839 thousand people seem to agree. Again: It matters little what one’s position is on the debate as the day reflects democracy at its finest.
The former President, when making this statement reiterated a theme which had been a staple of his presidency: Change happens when the people get involved and remain engaged. Contrast this approach to the current where Mr. Trump seems to either refuse to acknowledge this premise, or worse, attacks those who disagree with his controversial positions.
And then there is the National Rifle Association, the lobby persisting in their efforts to thwart change from taking place. Host and spokesperson, Colion Noir took to the airwaves on the eve of the Parkland led rally, taunting them.
Watch Noir’s video statement below:
There are a few things you should know about Colion Noir’s statement: First, the name he is using is a pseudonym for his real name, Collins Iyare Idehen Jr. who is a lawyer and gun rights advocate from Houston. He “has nearly 650,000 subscribers on YouTube.” Second, Idehen’s approach to the slaughtering that has been taking place in schools, movie theaters, and concert venues, across this land, is the same advanced by Wayne LaPierre, Executive Director of the NRA, who said in response to the Sandy Hook massacre that “the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Gaskill, a 34-year-old SWAT-trained officer did intervene in an incident that took place at Great Hills High School in Maryland, where a teenager shot and killed his ex-girlfriend. As many have pointed out, Gaskill is a school resource officer, and this is part of his job. In other words, he did what he is supposed to do in that situation. Whether arming teachers or more school personnel as Mr. Trump proposes and Idehen supports is quite another matter, and can be argued as part of the larger debate.
Where Idehen goes awry, is by lying in his video, arguing Gaskill received no media coverage for his interceding in the incident. He did. CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, among others, all informed the public about Gaskill’s actions. Furthermore, Idehen’s argument that these young adults are “taking away another’s second amendment right” by exercising their first is simply baloney.
Yet, Idehen is just one of many who are attempting to marginalize the voices of these kids. An aide to a Florida legislator was fired due to his supposition that the protesters are merely “paid actors,” with others going so far as to accuse the kids of not only being paid but being paid by the Democratic Party. Still, others have ridiculed the kids if they simply smile for a media appearance.
With allegations such as this, how welcome do we make these young adults feel to the democratic process? At a minimum, they have every right to express their feelings. At maximum, they have every right to demand change.
In six minutes and twenty some odd seconds, an unhinged individual used a weapon causing mass destruction, placing each and every one of these kids through a literal hell. The most palpable moment of the March For Our Lives rally was when Emma Gonzalez provided insight to each of us, through her silence, as to how long those six-plus minutes felt to them.
The least Mr. Trump could do is acknowledge their engagement in the democratic process. The least Mr. Idehen and others like him can do, is to cease lying about these kids. And the least we as Americans can do is welcome these young adults into the democratic process with open arms. Welcome young adults. You are the change and never forget that.