Think Progress is being obscenely dishonest to score political points against the NRA and conservatives who support gun rights.

The sad reality of our modern era is that we now expect tragedies to be politicized. We’ve gone beyond Rahm Emanuel’s mantra to “never let a serious crisis go to waste” to watching the dead bodies of children be used in vile, disingenuous attempts to smear political opponents.

The latest round of this was sparked after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Democrats and sympathetic media allies have been working overtime to demonize the NRA and any Republican politician who dared to accept a penny from them. Never mind that the Washington Post — certainly no bastion of conservative propaganda — did a detailed analysis of mass shootings and gun laws and found that new laws would not have prevented these killings.

Facts be damned when there is a narrative to push! Think Progress tweeted this yesterday, accusing the NRA of funding the training for the shooter.

When you click on the link, you see the source of Think Progress’ outrage: a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) marksmanship program, in which students participated in target practice using air rifles, and the NRA had donated $10,000 to Stoneman Douglas’ JROTC in 2016.

JROTC is sponsored by the United States Armed Forces at middle and high schools across the country, along with schools operated at American military bases around the world. JROTC’s goals are to instill in students “the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.” Marksmanship contests using air rifles are included in competitions in the Olympics and NCAA.

Media reports, including a Sun Sentinel article and this RedState post by Streiff yesterday, include detailed accounts of how members of Stoneman Douglas’ JROTC responded during the shooting: with heroism and care for their fellow students, describing how they worked together to direct students into a classroom to hide and barricade themselves from the shooter.

The Sun Sentinel article includes a specific mention that the students used “several backdrops used for marksmanship practice that are made of Kevlar, a similar material used in bullet-proof vests” as a barrier. Oh, could that be something the JROTC purchased with the NRA donation?

“Honestly, I wish I could have saved more people,” JROTC student Colton Haab told the Sun Sentinel. “I wish we could have gotten more people in the classroom.”

That’s the type of leadership that JROTC instills: a desire to help others, even if it puts yourself at risk.

One of these JROTC members sacrificed his life to this cause. Peter Wang, a 15-year-old freshman, was holding open the door to allow other students to escape before him when he was shot and killed.

That’s the true nature of JROTC: building the next generation of leaders who will serve our country and put others before themselves.

The shooter taking advantage of a JROTC program for his own twisted needs impugns the honor of JROTC no more than the terrorists and other killers who use automobiles as their weapon of choice implicate the DMV. Think Progress’ attempt to smear this program dishonors the legacy of Peter Wang and his fellow JROTC members, who acted with true bravery.

Sadly, Think Progress is far from alone in using this extreme, divisive rhetoric. The New York Daily News touted their cover page with an unbelievably ugly, despicable, vile, grotesque, false, disgusting attack:

That is truly beyond the pale.

Funny how there are plenty on the left willing to hold the NRA responsible for sponsoring the program that trained the shooter, but they don’t credit the NRA for sponsoring the program that trained the other JROTC members who acted with courage and sacrifice.

The 2018 midterms are rapidly approaching, so unfortunately we are likely to see this kind of dishonest smear continue, if not increase.

UPDATE: As Caleb Howe observed, the AP tried to push the same nonsense:

Even CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski denounced this smear as “sensationalist” and “false,” noting the heroism of JROTC students.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker