Quick Takes: “There’s Something Happening Here…”

A roundup of news about how young people change the world.

Over the last several years we seem to have gotten caught in a predictable script after every mass shooting. Republicans offer their thoughts and prayers, suggesting that it is too soon to politicize a tragedy. Democrats call for common sense gun safety measures for a few days and then everybody forgets about it until the next mass shooting.

But these young people from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have jolted us out of that script and this is the anthem that keeps playing in my head as I read about the impact they’re having.

So far these young people have done countless interviews, travelled to Tallahassee today to push for more gun laws, will participate in a CNN town hall tomorrow, and are busy planning a nationwide “March For Our Lives” on March 24th.

They are also inspiring others.

Earlier this afternoon, George and Amal Clooney responded to their efforts.

“Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School,” George Clooney said in a statement. “Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event.”

“Our children’s lives depend on it,” he added.

Almost immediately, that commitment was matched by Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg as well as Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw and Oprah Winfrey. As fast as that is all happening, I suspect that we’re just getting started.

Of course the right-wingers are losing their minds over the idea that young people are being empowered to fight for their own safety. People are accusing them of being coached by the “deep-staters” at the FBI; not having their own agency and instead, being manipulated by people like George Soros; and they are being referred to as “traumatized teens” who shouldn’t be allowed to make policy. Anyone else remember David Bowie’s song “Changes?”

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

It strikes me that Republicans, who completely discarded African American voters in the 60’s and have recently done their best to alienate women, Hispanics and immigrants, are now doing their best to ensure that the next generation of voters is committed to their downfall. Contrary to everything they’ve been saying over the last couple of days, it has always been the passion of young people that inspired change. For example:

A Mississippi lunch counter


Soweto, South Africa


Tienamen Square, China

Cairo, Egypt

A U.S. presidential election in 2008

Republicans can either pay attention now and learn the easy way, or ignore these young people and learn the hard way what Ms. Ella Baker knew long ago.

The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on
Is when the reins are in the hands of the young, who dare to run against the storm
To me young people come first, they have the courage where we fail
And if I can but shed some light as they carry us through the gale

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.