Right Wingers Can’t Bully the Parkland Students

Right wingers are viciously attacking the Parkland students who have organized so effectively on behalf of common sense gun safety reforms. A photoshopped image of Emma Gonzalez ripping up the Constitution went viral. Their speeches at last Saturday’s March for Our Lives have been dubbed into Hitler youth rallies. They’ve been called crisis actors, moonbats, baldfaced liars and every name but the one their mothers gave them.

Right-wing pundits like Rich Lowry and Tucker Carlson pretend to be intellectuals who are above all of that. But both of them have come out swinging against these young people as well. Their critiques are fascinating. Here’s what Lowery wrote:

In accusing their opponents of being bought off, the students deny the sincerity and legitimacy of supporters of gun rights. They treat the Second Amendment as an inkblot on the Constitution and dismiss all counterarguments as transparent rationalizations. Not only is this a (appropriately) juvenile view of the gun debate that ignores Supreme Court jurisprudence, the genuine support of the NRA by millions of people, and the serious, practical objections to gun-control proposals, it removes all possibility of a middle ground.

I wonder what kind of “middle ground” he’s talking about. Whenever anyone, including these students, suggests things as minor as universal background checks, the entire right-wing rises up to accuse them of wanting to confiscate guns and throw out the Second Amendment. That is precisely why we haven’t been able to have an honest debate about these issues. Who is it then that is denying the possibility of middle ground?

Similarly, here’s what Tucker Carlson said:

Emma Gonzalez, meanwhile, another celebrated survivor the shooting basically agrees with that. She recently said in a speech, quote, ‘I don’t really care what people who defend the Second Amendment have to say.’

Let’s take this seriously. We should take it seriously because it’s serious. If you honestly don’t care what the people who disagree with you think, if you believe they want to “murder more children,” who are you? Well, you’re angry. You’re definitely not fit to be making policy for the rest of us. You are by definition an extremist. You should not have power if you really believe anyone who disagrees with you is evil and wants to kill the innocent.

Perhaps the reason Emma said that she’s not really interested in what defenders of the Second Amendment have to say is because it doesn’t have any bearing on the actions this group of activists has proposed. All of them have been deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. In other words, perhaps she wants to get beyond the right wing’s favorite distraction and start talking about a real agenda to address gun violence.

I am particularly taken with Carlson’s suggestion that, if you think the opposition simply wants to murder more children, you are an extremist who is unfit to make policy for the rest of us. Did he really say that? If so, it might come as a surprise to all of the politicians, activists and groups who think that those of us who support a woman’s right to choose are simply baby killers. Are they unfit to make policy as well?

What is really getting under the skin of these right wing pundits is that the Parkland students aren’t intimidated by the kind of extremist rhetoric they have been spewing now for decades. Once again I am reminded of the lyrics from the David Bowie tune, “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

David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, and the rest of these young people are going to keep speaking their truth no matter what the likes of Rich Lowry or Tucker Carlson throw at them. They faced far worse on February 14, 2018. The bullying tactics of these right wingers aren’t going to stop them.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.