I want to be very clear that I think using kids as media tools to push narratives is wrong, and may do damage to their lives that we’ve yet to truly map out. In this day and age, in our media atmosphere, I’m not sure exposing teens to political vitriol is healthy, and it’s the equivalent of putting them at the front of an army and daring the other side to fire at them.
Rest assured, I do believe the kids should have their voices heard, especially since they’re the ones directly involved in the latest spark that lit America on fire. I created the now-defunct Misfit Politics in 2011 partly with the mind of giving young adults a voice, and to this day I believe that young people do have some value to add to the national conversation.
But sometimes, things go too far.
The Parkland student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting are the picture perfect example of how not to turn kids into activists. Before the bodies of their slain fellows hardly had time to cool, any major media outlet that could proceeded to put students behind podiums and in front of cameras in order to preach the virtues of gun control, and denounce the NRA. CNN went so far as to create a town hall that seemed more like a dog and pony show mixed with a witch hunt, with the Parkland students taking center stage. Each of them seemingly of the same mind of “guns and NRA bad. Gun control and Democrats good.”
Figures like Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzales, and David Hogg are consistently wheeled out in front of us to preach at America about how we’re wrong about our love of guns, and how the NRA must be stopped, and how Republicans are irresponsible and/or bought and paid for by the NRA. It’s often ill-informed commentary, and frankly insulting to watch.
And now the “students” are putting on a “March for Our Lives” in D.C. this month in order to protest in the name of reforming our gun laws. I only put “students” in quotations because it’s come out that the march is actually being organized by leftist politicians and a cadre of top left-leaning activist orgs, like Planned Parenthood and the Women’s March.
But at no point did these kids and their handlers stop to attempt to reach across the aisle and talk with both sides. So far, Hogg, Kasky, et al have been only yelling AT everyone, and not talking with those who oppose them. Hogg, the most visible of the student activists, even went so far as to brag on Bill Maher’s show that he hung up on Trump when the President attempted to start a conversation.
This isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. In fact, the bad taste in which these student activists perform speaks volumes about their intent. They aren’t here to improve America’s firearm issue. Sure, it’s the vehicle they’re using to drive to their goal, but their goal is to put on a performance aimed squarely at painting Republicans and one of their biggest campaign donors as irresponsible and evil, and making it easier for Democrats to get elected.
Meanwhile, one student actually is going around and meeting with politicians on both sides. He’s actually having conversations about the issues with people who can get things done, instead of dancing with activist groups who think the path to change is through putting on vagina costumes, or wearing pink pussy hats while chanting about how Trump is a Nazi.
Kyle Kashuv is also a Parkland survivor, but you’d be forgiven for having never heard of him despite the fact that he’s also trying to change things. The problem with Kashuv is that Kashuv is problematic, at least to those who want a full anti-NRA/gun/Republican narrative. Kashuv is friendly to Republicans as well as Democrats, puts the blame on the failure of law enforcement agencies who didn’t do their jobs, and lives in the realistic world where guns are here and likely aren’t going away.
What’s more, Kashuv seems very real. He doesn’t seem too coached when he speaks, he’s capable of making fun of himself, and his anger has reason and facts behind it. His presence on the national stage right now feels more natural and honest, unlike his fellows who feel like performers for a goal behind the “goal.”
When he does appear on TV, Kashuv is professional and respectful. His measured behavior is a far cry from the sensationalism that his fellows present. After being subjected to so much vitriol and anger from the likes of Kasky and Hogg, Kashuv is highly refreshing.
But most of all, Kashuv has a clear intended goal, and he works toward it. He’s not putting on airs, organizing marches, or promoting politicians. He’s just talking with them and reaching middle ground solutions.
— Fox & Friends First (@FoxFriendsFirst) March 9, 2018
After these upcoming midterm elections when it’s no longer useful to use gun control as an issue to run on, we may very well see the Parkland students relegated to the background. Kasky, Hogg, and co. may suddenly find themselves not as popular as they were just the other day, and the politicians and orgs that were so ready to put them on camera not returning their calls as much. Should Democrats not perform well in the upcoming elections, they might see their stock in leftist circles drop drastically, and they may be sent home with little to show for it.
The same will likely happen to Kashuv, however, he will have actually accomplished something. He might disappear from the limelight, and I get the feeling that Kashuv won’t be all that bothered by it. He accomplished what he set out to do. Later on down the line, he might reappear on the political stage as a candidate or commentator. He might not.
And I respect that about Kashuv. It’s why, despite his youth, I listen when he speaks up. He has something very real to say that comes from a very real place.
Kashuv, in my humble opinion, is one of the real heroes of the Parkland saga, and I truly hope his example is followed by young people interested in politics for years to come.