Over the weekend, thousands of people took to the streets to take part in the March For Our Lives. Organized by survivors from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that only five weeks prior witnessed the death of 17 students and teachers, the students took immediate action to make sure a similar tragedy never happens again.
Far from a knee-jerk reaction, despite their age, the organizers are considered, calculated and professional: they have clear demands like implementing background checks on all gun purchases including online and at gun shows. They’ve written opinion pieces for national newspapers, and utilized voter registration volunteers at rallies. At the march, one of the organizers, 18-year-old David Hogg encouraged democratic participation.“Let’s take this to our local legislators and let’s take this to midterm elections,” he said.
So, why are the right so frightened? Rather than answer to the growing swell of voices and rebut with actual arguments, they’re retreating into the same old stories that underpin any moral panic. Photoshopped images of organizer Emma Gonzalez ripping up the constitution, lies of her communist leanings thanks to a patch of a Cuban flag on Emma’s arm (Emma’s father is Cuban) to conspiracy theories of the students graduating years ago, connections to the FBI, to more animalistic attacks. The right’s baseless attacks have transformed into a complete frenzy, fueled by nativist slurs. At their heart, most moral panics are trying to say the same thing—our children are at risk. In this instance, the slew of attacks on all student activists is a measure of the fear gripping conservative trolls, fear of a movement set to displace their grip on American society.
As The New Yorker pointed out, the march was a testament to the range of people affected by gun violence. A day of inclusive protest against a failed policy is a historical step forward. The demand for the right to a safe childhood and education far outweighs erratic concerns for a dying constitution. And the right knows it.