Columns, Opinion

American Protest: It’s time to start listening to the future leaders of America

In the two weeks since the Parkland school shooting, teenage victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have stood up and said enough is enough. Senior high school student Emma Gonzalez has made waves with her powerful speech calling for stricter gun control, and many other survivors have organized marches, campaigns and even met with President Trump.

Last Wednesday, more than 1,000 students from nearby high schools marched to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to protest and honor victims. Schools across the country are organizing marches and protests, and many cities including Boston are planning “March for Our Lives” protests against gun violence on March 24.  

The teenagers of Parkland are making a difference, and their call for action has reverberated loudly with much of the nation. Unfortunately, the opposition has been loud too.

As expected, NRA members and Second Amendment lovers have resisted much of the anti-gun rhetoric circulating the media, but the verbal attacks on the survivors of Parkland demonstrated a new low that I didn’t think they would stoop to.

These kids watched their friends get murdered. They sat in classrooms for hours wondering how many of their peers were dead. Siblings texted each other wondering if that was the last time they would say they loved each other. Mothers and fathers buried their children.

But some people think it’s okay to patronize and attack these students for standing up for their safety. Bill O’Reilly claimed the survivors were unreliable because of “extreme peer pressure.” Lucian Wintrich of Gateway Pundit accused survivor David Hogg of having been coached by his FBI agent father because he was too articulate in interviews.

While I’m not really sure what any of that really means, the implications from right-wingers that these students are not valid or intelligent enough for political expression needs to end. They have experienced some of the worst trauma imaginable, and this will affect them for the rest of their lives.

These conservatives and patronizing politicians will never understand what they went through, and therefore have no right to tell them how they should or should not be thinking or acting. They are teenagers — not 5-year-olds — and their opinions are valid.

Many of the survivors speaking out will be able to vote very soon, and they will not be voting for those discrediting them. They are the new generation advocating for change, and they have restored a faith I have started to lose this country.

Additionally, they have made this tragedy different from ones in the past for me. I am sure many other people feel the same way. The victims have inspired change and called for action, and people are still talking about it.

Usually a week goes by, everyone grieves, and then we forget about it. But it’s been two weeks, and the shooting is still making front-page headlines. Even better, protests are being planned for next month, so the conversation surrounding gun control is going to continue.

All these students want is their right to go to school and be safe. They don’t want other children to have to suffer from the trauma they went through. This is their message, and somehow the right-wing is still demonizing them.

Those people are truly blind and ignorant, and simply cannot grasp the fact that these students are making a difference. Nothing they do or say will stop that change.

I think they’re scared. They know this time is different too, and they will do anything to stop it — even if it means attacking the victims of a massacre.

Regardless, I have heard these students’ call to action, and much like many others, I am ready to do something. Americans are fed up with the NRA controlling the government and continuing to funnel money as students are mowed down with assault rifles.

I can feel the change coming — it’s inevitable. These students are the generation that will create a safer world for our children. I am more hopeful now than ever that our country has a chance, and maybe someday I can send my future children to school and rest assured that they are safe.


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