In My Own Words: Running scared

By: RABBI RACHEL ESSERMAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Are they really so scared of what those students might accomplish? That strikes me as the main reason behind the attacks on Parkland student activists. For those unfamiliar with the situation, a mass shooting – called one of the worst school shootings ever – took place at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, on February 14. Seventeen students and staff were killed, and 14 others, were injured during the attack. 
You would think that having lived through this horrific experience – with some students fearing for their lives, even as others watched their friends bleed and die – would generate sympathy for the survivors. However, that’s not what has occurred. Why? Because instead of sitting back and waiting for government action – government action that didn’t take place after too many other school shootings – these students founded a movement in order to prevent future shootings. 
Their statements and actions were behind the recent March for Our Lives. In Washington, DC, about 800,000 people gathered for the march. The number in New York City was nearly 200,000 and the Binghamton March, which I attended, numbered almost 2,000. These numbers scare people who don’t want gun control or more funding for mental health issues or a discussion of white male rage. 
These student activists have one goal: preventing mass shootings. They deserve to be applauded for their activism. Instead, they are attacked and lectured for their effort to make our schools and country safe. 
The list of misconceptions and/or lies printed or spoken about these students is horrifying. A few of them are printed below:
Lie: The student activists are paid actors, not young people who attend school in Parkland. Truth: Not only aren’t they paid actors, they did not receive money to serve as a front man for any political party or organization. Can legislators make the same claim?
Lie: This wouldn’t have happened if the students had been nice to the shooter. Truth: Even if we ignore the horror of blaming the victim, at least one student reported on her time tutoring the shooter, who has problems far beyond any student’s ability to cure. Being nice just doesn’t cut it when it comes to solving the problems of mental illness.
Lie: One of the students ripped up the U.S. Constitution, showing her disdain for our nation. Truth: What she really ripped up was a shooting target with a bullseye. The video was altered to not only change the paper in her hand, but to make her look scary.
Misconception: The students should be doing something practical instead of protesting, such as learning CPR or how to respond to a shooter. Reality: As one student retorted, CPR doesn’t work on someone whose head has been blown off. As for responding to the shooter: since when are students expected to have the ability of a SWAT team? That’s so absurd it’s difficult to respond seriously.
Misconception: These students are too young to understand the issue. Reality: Those making this claim don’t understand the issue. It’s very simple: find a way to stop massacres in our schools.
In a world where young people are said to be uninterested in anything beyond their phones and other electronic devices, we should feel grateful for these student activists. But their positive actions are what makes those in power frightened of them. If these students gather enough people behind their cause, they might force change. What politicians need to remember before they dismiss these students is that in a few years they will be old enough to vote. I’m betting their memories will be long enough to remember who supported their cause and vote appropriately. Those of us who are already old enough to vote will recall these politicians’ stances come next election day.