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Useful Masses: Democrat Elites Exploit Kids' Hearts in the Wake of Parkland Shooting

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

The student gun control movement is protected by a forcefield of full immunity from criticism and insurance against even the slightest negative observation of any tangential activity associated with it.  

March for Our Lives (MFOL) has conveniently become America’s foremost third rail of debate almost overnight.   

Liberal educators invest heavily in moments of silence for polar bears but little in putting reasoning skills into practice. They imbue youth with the notion there is only one correct thought path and anyone who disagrees is not just wrong, but evil, and should not be listened to with respect, but shouted down with anger.

One proficiency subsequently lacking in modern culture is the ability to de-conflate issues. If A and B occur together, only one must be true. If I am a gun owner, I can’t possibly care about the carnage of mass shootings. The sad sin of conflation has never been more apparent than in the MFOL space.

Three young people started this movement as a grassroots, organic, admirable and heartfelt response to the horror of the Parkland shooting. They went through hell. They want to save other kids from that hell. None of that should be taken away from them or diminished.  

It is concurrently true that their movement is being co-opted by forces they are too young and inexperienced to discern or fully appreciate. This is not a criticism—they are kids—they are supposed to be young and inexperienced. 

But to put a new twist on an old term, the left sees them as “useful masses.”

March for Our Lives has a slick, professional website. The front page notes “school safety is not a political issue.”  Directly above the “not a political issue” wording is a tab titled “Vote for Our Lives.”  The Vote for Our Lives voter registration links to Rock the Vote.

Rock the Vote claims to simply “engage young people in the political process” but that is a lie. RTV was co-founded by Democrat activist Steve Barr and record executive and Democrat donor Jeff Ayeroff.  Its former political director, Hans Reimer, worked for the Obama campaign and is now a Democrat politician in Maryland. Self-identified “progressive activist” and DNC official Jehmu Greene has served as RTV President.  

RTV is not open minded, non-political or tolerant. Yet it is the pipeline through which “non-political” MFOL is registering young people concerned about school safety. Who made that decision, and was it fully informed?  

Planned Parenthood, MoveOn and other leftist groups seeking future political dominance are pouring money, resources and student “training” into MFOL. American Federation of Teachers president (using a glowing example of inappropriate language for youngsters) claimed, “we will be here for that ‘oh s—t’ moment’ when they need permits.” Not education; permits. Florida Democrat and former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz admits she was organizing students the day after the shooting. Yikes, that’s cold.

George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey, considering running for office as Democrats, are founding donors of MFOL and its associated party-based voter registration. As all campaign professionals know, it is always about collecting names. How is that for purity of mission?

As a Conservative Republican gun owner, I would support these students’ rights as a grassroots, organic movement even though we disagree on reasons for and solutions to mass shootings. With my mother’s heart, I sympathize with their pain and fear.  

However, they are being used as political pawns by a repressive ideology I could never support, and none of us are to speak of it because “that’s not fair! These are their true feelings!” A true Part A does not render Part B false. Yet in the world of conflation, if we highlight the manipulation, we must not care about the children of Parkland.  

New polls show dramatic shifts in how Republicans view amending gun regulations. Republican President Donald Trump is listening to all sides and already proposing changes.  

But what are we to think of our nation’s future when MFOL student leaders David Hogg bragged he “hung up on the White House” when the president was reaching out to meet with him, and Cameron Kasky stated “we don’t respect people just because we have to”?

What should we ask of this movement? Intellectual honesty. Openness. Manners. Passion. Recognition of the political universe into which it has been thrust.

If you put yourself in the public square, you are knowingly exposing yourself. When in that square touting your rights, you must make room for the rights of others in a corner of the square. There should be no third rail in American debate or citizens suppressing dissenting opinions for fear of media or social media attacks.

“Enough is enough” indeed. No issue can be successfully debated without transparency and truth.

Kerri Toloczko is a Senior Policy Fellow for Institute for Liberty, a public policy organization dedicated to limited government, free enterprise and individual pursuit of the American dream.  

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