The students of Parkland, Florida, aren’t letting anyone tell their stories for them — not even the president of the United States.
The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, refuse to be props for Trump’s agenda.
On Monday, survivors of last week’s deadly shooting Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg told CNN’s “New Day” they will not be attending Trump’s “listening session” this week.
“I believe we’ve been invited, but neither of us are going,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, who made national news for her barn burner of a speech at a gun control rally this weekend, said they have a prior town hall meeting with Jake Tapper.
But the refusal is also a rebuke to Trump, who conducted himself with shocking insensitivity in the wake of the shooting. He tried to blame the massacre on the students and the Russia investigation, and posed for a beaming thumbs-up with the first responders and nurses who tried to save mortally wounded children, as if expecting adulation for being on the scene of a national tragedy. Gonzalez clearly does not want to afford Trump another opportunity for ghoulish self-promotion at her classmates’ expense.
As Gonzalez and Hogg noted, Trump is only part of the problem. The entire NRA political machine is culpable in their friends’ deaths.
Asked if she had any words for the NRA, Gonzalez said, “Disband, dismantle … don’t make another organization under a different name. Don’t you dare come back here.”
In response to the point that the NRA gives millions to politicians to vote their way, Gonzalez had a blunt response.
“If they accept this blood money, they are against the children. They are against the people who are dying,” she said. “There’s no other way to put it at this point. You’re either funding the killers, or you’re standing with the children. The children who have no money. We don’t have jobs. So we can’t pay for your campaign. We would hope that you have the decent morality to support us at this point.”
“If you can’t get elected without taking money from child murderers,” added Hogg, “why are you running?”
Many in America are coming to the same conclusion, with one wealthy Florida Republican megadonor refusing to fund another campaign until his party restricts assault weapons.
But old habits die hard. House Speaker Paul Ryan was caught living it up at a GOP fundraiser in Key Biscayne, Florida, immediately after the shooting, and had a teacher ejected from the event after she asked him what he was going to do about guns.
Meanwhile, students like Gonzalez and Hogg are organizing and refusing to allow politicians to shape the narrative of the tragedy they survived. And that includes the president.