Mass Media, Mass Movement
I got a bunch of readers stirred up by denouncing David Hogg for his vicious slander of Sen. Marco Rubio at the big gun control march the other day. Notice that I didn’t criticize any of the other kids. Hogg is a piece of work. (Don’t play the video embedded in that story, not if you’re at work). Excerpt from the NR link:
“The pathetic f***ers that want to keep killing our children, they could have blood from children splattered all over their faces and they wouldn’t take action because they all still see those dollar signs,” Hogg said before describing the “exhaustion” he’s experienced as a result of his month-long stint as a political activist.
“At this point its like when your old-a** parent is like, ‘I don’t know how to send an iMessage’ and you’re like, ‘Ok give me the f***ing phone’ and you take it and you get it done in one second. Sadly, that’s what we have to do with our government because our parents don’t know how to use a f***ing democracy so we have to do it.”
The interviewer asks him about what concrete policy things he would like to see done. He says something about mental health and guns, then defaults to:
“I’m fu*king 17. I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to talk about these policy questions.”
So here’s a kid who is old enough to join the military (with parental consent), and whose voice is so valued by the media that he was put on the cover of Time for his anti-gun views … but who has no real idea about what should be done, and resents the questions, because he is just a kid, in his view.
No wonder he feels that way. He stands in front of a big crowd in Washington and accuses Sen. Marco Rubio of exchanging student lives for campaign contributions (““I’m going to start off by putting this price tag right here as a reminder for you guys to know how much Marco Rubio took for every student’s life in Florida.”) But we cannot criticize this disgusting slander, we are told, because he’s just a kid.
I don’t have any special feelings for Marco Rubio, but this statement is utterly jarring. What Hogg is saying here is that NRA members (I am not one of them) are guilty of buying dead students for the sake of preserving their Second Amendment rights. When Hogg said that, I didn’t think of Marco Rubio. I thought of all the NRA members I know, and grew up with here in the deep South.
I agree with this:
I think a bit more gun control is a good idea, but what is embarrassing about the March for Our Lives is that this is not really about guns or a danger to school kids. It’s about the left grabbing another chance to make a power grab.
— Fr. Dwight Longenecker (@dlongenecker1) March 25, 2018
… and let me tell you why.
First, I don’t trust the media at all on this. This issue is tailor-made to suit the biases of the media, especially the media elite. The coverage of the gun control movement since Parkland has been overwhelmingly partisan and cheerleading. We have been here before. The coverage of the gay marriage movement starting over a decade ago went the same way. There was only one side to the issue as far as the media were concerned. If you disagreed, then you were a bad person who lacked empathy and compassion. If you raised issues about religious liberty or other complications, the media said that these were non-issues. And then later, when it became clear that these were actually real issues, the media said that only bigots cared about such things.
More recently, the transgender movement benefited from the same media bias.
And now it’s gun control. From a media point of view, the story has Sacred Victims (whose views cannot be questioned), and those victims happen to be Youth, who have been fetishized as the bearers of innocence and renewal since the 1960s. Guess who’s running newsrooms today?
Second, this movement is not going to stay focused on gun control. The passions of the left, and the media, won’t allow it. Emma Gonzalez gave a memorable speech at the rally. But the media can’t let the speech stand for itself. They’re already celebrating the intersectionality of Gonzalez, a self-defined bisexual who has shaved her head:
Of course, no one would deem this current antigun movement a singly gay issue — not even GAG, for whom the two narratives are tightly entwined. But there are deep and undeniable connections, made both collectively — such as by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest national LGBTQ-rights organization, which had a massive presence at the D.C. march led in party by Queer Eye co-host Karamo Brown, himself a graduate of Parkland’s Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School — and also made individually.
That goes for González, who tells Yahoo Lifestyle in the days leading up to Saturday’s march that she indeed sees a connection between her sexuality and her drive to lead the movement. “They’re definitely linked for me personally. If I wasn’t so open about who I was, I never would’ve been able to do this,” she says. “In ninth grade, I was in a creative writing class where I could actually really effectively communicate what I was feeling, and it especially helped me come to terms with who I was. That definitely was when I really understood who I am, and when I came to terms with it, and when I told most people.”
Being open, González says, “helped me understand that everybody, no matter who they are and what they look like, is going through a lot of different things.” And being her school’s GSA president for three years has fostered her activist skills.
“It’s really helped me get used to shifting plans very quickly, planning in advance, and also being flexible … understanding that maybe you organize a club meeting with this one person in mind and they just don’t come because they aren’t coming to school, and you can’t get upset,” she says. “Because most of the kids in GSA either have depression or they’re dealing with a lot of stuff at home, and I can understand that. And there are so many people in the country who are dealing with that, in relation to gun violence. You have no idea. You don’t know how many people you talk to on a daily basis that have actually been shot before, or have lost someone through gun violence. With GSA it’s the same. Everything’s incredibly far-reaching and widespread.”
Everything’s incredibly far-reaching and widespread. Uh-huh. Oppose gun control? What are you, a bigot?
González, of course, is far from the only power behind the youth-led antigun movement and March for Our Lives; in the week leading up to the marches, she and the rest of the Parkland crew did a whirlwind media tour, landing, among other places, on the cover of Time, in the studio of The Rachel Maddow Show, and in a Teen Vogue series that included a story in its sister LGBTQ publication, Them, which announced in its headline, “Queer Teenage Girls are Leading the Gun Control Movement.”
Though it may have been a slight exaggeration (only González and classmate Sarah Chadwick have identified themselves as being part of the LGBTQ family), there is certainly a shared ethos within the youth-led resistance that makes it ring true. And as nonqueer Parkland student Jaclyn Corin noted in that story, “As things get more acceptable in society, like legalizing gay marriage and stuff like that, it shows us that a change from the beginning that seemed so far away can actually happen in the same lifetime. So that gives us hope. We’re kind of modeling this like the LGBT movement because, in retrospect, it’s the same. We’re working towards a common goal as a lot of people and it’s not party-oriented. That’s marriage, and this is lives.”
Got it? You’d better get it. Here’s an excerpt from that Them magazine interview referenced above. The interviewer is executive editor of Teen Vogue, which was last featured here for its how-to guide to anal sex for teenage girls:
Nza-Ari Khepra [an organizer]: I think that we’re in a moment of liberation, especially with just coming to terms with all of our different identities and finding ways that we can embrace them, especially within this movement alone, there’s a lot of different identities that intersect with gun violence and gun violence prevention. It’s hard to just tackle the problem as a whole without looking at those identities, looking at the fact that this is a mental health issue, looking at the fact that this is more likely in urban communities, minorities, African American men and women. That’s the only way that I’ll be able to find a solution for my community.
Being an African American woman from an urban city, there are a lot of different privileges that I have, and a lot that I don’t have. And so I have to make sure that I carry that along when I do any kind of work with this movement, and make sure that I shine a spotlight on all of those different communities to make sure that everyone is getting equal attention, and working toward the same goal.
Take a look at this:
You know what? I agree with the top three items on this list. I don’t know what I think about armed guards in schools (lean favorably), and I don’t know what I think about banning “assault weapons,” because that is such a nebulous category.
But it is quite clear that the media and the activists are trying to tie gun control into a broader left-wing “liberation” movement. The kids leading this thing see it that way. That’s no reason not to favor sensible new gun legislation (such as that proposed above), but let’s not be naive about this movement.
Intersectionality, the academic left’s favorite hot concept, works both ways: if you want to tie the gun control movement to LGBT rights, and promote the bisexuality of a shaved-head teenage girl who wears the flag of communist Cuba (no citizens have guns there, for sure) on her jacket at the protest, then do not complain when conservative connect the dots. It can’t be “intersectional” only when people think happy thoughts about the intersectionality.
Finally, going back to David Hogg as the other well-known face and voice of the movement. We know about foul-mouthed public speakers who have a way of giving voice to legitimate public passions, and stoking them with rash rhetoric that promises easy solutions to complicated problems. We know about dismissing the ugliness and demagoguery of the rhetoric because that very rawness is claimed to be a sign of authenticity, of keeping it real. We know about demonizing opponents, and how successful you can be with that kind of uncut passion in social media and with a gawking news media that loves a hot story.
We know because Donald Trump showed us how it’s done from the right. It could well be that the left, with the gun control issue, is now discovering a passionate source for progressive populism, and empowering effective voices. In which case the right would do well not to underestimate what’s happening.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Delaney Tarr expressed no interest in working with the other side of the political aisle on the issue of gun control and urged participants to sign their gun control petition.
“There are so very many things, so many steps to take,” Tarr said. “Like right now, sign our petition. It takes two seconds and it matters. We will take the big and we will take the small, but we will keep fighting.”
It was at that moment that Tarr made a statement that should be a clear warning signal to anyone thinking about giving an “inch” to the gun control activists when it comes to Second Amendment rights.
“When they give us that inch, that bump stock ban, we will take a mile,” Tarr declared.
You can see the clip at the link above. Or, just wait until this fall, when the NRA runs it incessantly in ads.