"We are the voices of the new generation... We want change, and those who try to stop us cannot stand in our way. We will outnumber you, we will outvote you, and we will outlive you." (High School student, March 24, 2018, Newton, NJ)
This has all happened before. The same words were used by another generation of students who demanded security over freedom. They ended up with neither.
What began as a modernist dream ended in retching sadness.
"I have a message for all of those politicians... Your thoughts and prayers are not going to stop this from happening over and over again, like it has for the past 20 years." (Ibid)
Yes. We are going to need to address our rotting culture. A culture, by the way, that many of those young marchers have totally bought into.
Twenty years ago... In the aftermath of the Columbine shootings, President Bill Clinton first highlighted the problem of violence in our culture and how it was being marketed for profit. Psychologists had long noted how violent media content acts like a drug on childhood development, chemically altering a child's brain.
It was President Clinton who pointed out that study after study, and the marketing documents of the entertainment industry itself, all pointed to the entertainment industry's premeditated marketing of violence to children and their undeveloped brains. All the evidence was there. Then he went further and ordered a study by the Federal Trade Commission. The study, released on September 11, 2000, can be accessed below:
In response, the entertainment industry increased its campaign contributions by 1,000 percent and spent hundreds of millions on lobbying and soft money to convince Congress to forget every study it had ever read. Then September 11, 2001, occurred and concerns over media violence were ignored in the run-up to war. Some in the entertainment industry never forgot, and when another Clinton ran for President, they derailed her by supporting a first-term senator named Barack Obama.
Does our young high school student really believe that government will be able to eliminate the illegal possession of firearms any better than it has eliminated the illegal possession of narcotics? Is there any high school in America free from illegal drug use?
President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs in 1971. That's before most parents of today's high schoolers were born. Are we any closer to winning that war -- or have we started to surrender, making up reasoning for decriminalization of those things long warned against?
Gun-free school zones have been disastrous failures. Will trying to make all of America "gun-free" fare any better? Instead of carrying the agenda of pre-existing movements, like the anti-NRA Brady bunch, shouldn't students be separating themselves from the failed paradigms of the past?
Of course, that would take thinking in place of emotion and a "be-in" is always cooler than a think-in. Rallies, like dance parties, stir the emotions. And the emotions of the young have always been a target for hijacking and abuse by political authoritarians.
If you want to protect children in schools make that the priority. In other nations, including those on the front line in the battle with terrorism, school shootings are rare. Despite schools being a prime target for terror attacks, in Israel there have been just six attacks on schools since 1974.
America doesn't have Hamas or the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades or Palestinian Islamic Jihad operating on its borders -- so why does America do such a poor job protecting our schools when other nations, in active battle with terrorist groups, manage it so much better? Is it simply the case that other nations face facts, while we prefer to bask in emotion and the idea that "it shouldn't happen here" in exceptionalist America?
We are going to be looking very hard at this and passing along ideas for solutions. We invite commentary and participation from all.