The conservative right is raging against the #NeverAgain teenagers
Cornered by the media response in favor of young people requesting arms control, conservative representatives and right-wing media viciously attack the student movement #NeverAgain.
It is no secret to anyone that venturing into politics can be exhausting and can often jeopardize the private and public lives of whoever decides to do so.
But when you are 17 years old, you strongly believe in something and you have an army of comrades who march side by side with you, the situation is different.
The group of teenagers who have decided to face the political reality behind the violence by firearms in the United States has tried since minute one the bitterness of the American policy.
Between their magnificent management of social networks, their intervention in public debates and their resilience before an event that would traumatize the bravest of the legislators on Capitol Hill, Emma González, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and the rest of the survivors of the shooting in the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have also had to face the worst side of public life in a country badly fractured by two political parties.
Before, during and after their massive call to March For Our Lives on March 24, these teenagers have had to face reprisals from organizations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the political and civil machinery that comes with it.
As reported by Rolling Stone magazine, last Saturday and during the march rapper Killer Mike went on national television in a pre-recorded segment of NRATV (the NRA television network) which host Collins Iyare Idehen Jr. introduced by challenging directly the #NeverAgain movement: "Why are you really marching for?" he said. "Because from where I’m standing, it looks like a march to burn the Constitution and rewrite the parts you don’t like in crayon."
Similarly, as reported by USA Today, many of the conservatives have been "dismissive of the students, arguing they are too young to know what they are talking about and that they have been manipulated by liberals."
An example of this was the opinion column of Townhall radio host, Kevin McCullough, who said that the march "was more irritating than anything else", labeling the Parkland students as "angry and opportunistic".
"The moralizing and lecturing of these manipulated teens has gone roughly as far as it will go," said McCullough. "You don’t get to use your victimization (as real as it was) to advocate for an even less safe school for my children."
The head of the spear, as expected, was the comments of Fox News and their insistence on transforming #MarchForOurLives into a belligerent "attack on the Second Amendment," Vox reported.
The night before the event, Fox's commentator, Tucker Carlson, attacked the media coverage of characters like Gonzalez and Hogg, saying that, "we shouldn’t be listening to the logic of teenage gun control activists who organized the march."
As Vox continues, the fact that Fox News only half covered the march, that it has framed it around the Second Amendment and that it has even given voice to the only dissident student of the movement, Kyle Kashuv, is enough evidence of the politicization of the media postures against teenagers.
But the one who has taken the biggest piece of this cake has been Cuban-American activist Emma González.
After having become an icon of the movement by directly attacking the political agenda behind the Second Amendment, González has transformed into the favorite target of conservatism and alt-right groups in the U.S.
As the Washington Post reported, "a doctored animation of Gonzalez tearing the US Constitution in half circulated on social media during the rally, after it was lifted from a Teen Vogue story about teenage activists," the paper explained. "In the real image, Gonzalez is ripping apart a gun-range target."
The animation has revolved around the conservative media, reaching more audience than the original image.
Moreover, the image of the Cuban flag that González wore on her jacket during the march has been the toast of the town of those who still perceive communism from Cold War positions.
On Sunday after the march, the campaign team of Iowa Representative Steve King attacked the teenager directly on Facebook with a post that said: "This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self-defense."
But as in the era of media globalization nothing goes unnoticed, many jumped into the ring in defense of Gonzalez.
Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times wrote that "it would be laughable to suggest that any of these Cuban-flag-wavers supported Cuban communism.”
Iannelli recalls that "the Cuban constitution technically guarantees the right of citizens to wage ‘armed struggle against anyone who tries to overthrow the political, social and economic order.'
Additionally, the columnist gives a history class recapitulating that "the Cuban flag was designed in 1849 by very not-communist activists fighting against the Spanish slave owners who had colonized the island (...) Hilariously, there actually even is a real flag that represents Cuban communism - the flag of Castro’s 26th of July Movement."
And to close with a flourish, the columnist of Cuban origin Fabiola Santiago, wrote a piece for the Miami Herald in defense of Gonzalez, exposing the real point:
"In this country, Emma has the right to wear whatever she wants and to speak her mind without fear," explained Santiago. "Our disdain for the color olive green is our burden, not our children’s. What she and the other Parkland students are doing is as far from communism as it gets. Speaking the truth to power is what defines freedom in America."