Part 4—Because our team's adults have failed: Will the precocious kids from Douglas High end up saving the world?
In the realm of novel and fairy tale, that's the way it happens. In the realm of our failing society and our broken political culture, there's no real way to tell.
The nationwide marches on March 24 are likely to be compelling. They may help trigger a break in the dam. Some sort of legislation may follow. Or not!
Along the way, some students from Parkland's Douglas High have in fact been quite precocious. Other students haven't been—nor is there any reason to think that teenagers should be able to heal our broken world.
That world has been produced, in large part, by several generations of self-dealing, highly advantaged "liberal" elites. We're sure the Slate gang are very nice people, but we'd have to number them among the gods who have failed.
In the wake of our most recent mass shooting, quite a few Douglas High students have attempted to speak out, even to act. They stand in contrast with the codes of silence long observed among the Dahlia Lithwicks, among the highly advantaged people with whom she consorts.
In the face of decades of silence, the teen-aged students from Douglas High are actually trying to act! Inevitably, the useless Yale grads at the useless site Slate have aligned themselves with the childish pleasures of novel and fairy tale.
We hate to single Lithwick out. We have no doubt that she's a good, decent person, though one who's committed to maintaining silence where silence confers vast advantage.
That said, Lithwick has recently singled herself, first with an attempt to explain her silence in the face of sexual harassment, then with the pitiful essay in which she (correctly) said that a bunch of high-school students are morally and intellectually superior to her own pitiful guild.
Lithwich was certainly right about that, but she tried to slip past the implications of her accurate statement. Is it time for all the Lithwicks to go? Instead of imagining that, she hid behind one teen-aged student, presenting this novelized tale:
LITHWICK (2/22/18): The adults forgot to tell the kids at Stoneman Douglas that they can’t win against the NRA. As Alec MacGillis suggested last week, decades of demoralized fatalism have allowed progressives to persuade themselves that the NRA and Republican interests are too powerful to overcome, causing liberals to give up the fight before it begins. But no one shared this received wisdom with Emma Gonzalez. “If you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it’s time to start doing something,” she said last weekend. That may sound naïve to an older generation of progressives, but it’s also the only possible starting point for changing the terms of the debate. I, for one, am grateful to be reminded of its essential truth.When Lithwick bravely assailed Loesch's "hard, shiny little NRA talking points," she linked to this videotape from the previous night's town hall forum. The four-and-a-half minute videotape shows Emma Gonzalez, who's just 17, interacting with the NRA's Loesch.
...that’s the beauty of the Parkland kids. They don’t care. We scoff that theirs is a generation raised on reality shows, Instagram, and YouTube, but they are more aware of what is real and what is fake than the adults around them. Far from acting, or ritualized performance, these students have veered so far from any received post-tragedy script that, one week after the shooting, they are still dominating the news cycle. This is what being awake and alive and human and compassionate actually looks like. Pitting all that against Dana Loesch’s hard, shiny little NRA talking points reveals the made-for-cable fakery we’ve bought into en masse.
Lithwick was hiding behind Gonzalez's skirts, just as the hapless Sheriff Israel had done during that CNN forum. Earlier, a younger Slate pundit had described the exchange on that videotape in this ridiculous fashion:
GRABAR (2/22/18): Over the last few days the public has been struck by the wherewithal of the Parkland students—their eloquence in the wake of tragedy, their good nature in the face of right-wing smear campaigns, their courage in confronting politicians and journalists on national television...As Lithwick would do later that day, Grabar trashed Loesch's response to Gonzalez without reporting what Loesch had said, and without explaining what was supposed to be wrong with her statements. Meanwhile, the Slate stars romanticized the children well, rushing past the looming question:
Perhaps the most moving contrast of the night was seeing Emma Gonzalez—whose angry speech at a rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday captivated the nation—confront the slick NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. Her question, like the other two, was not a point of policy but of right and wrong: Do you believe it should be harder to obtain semiautomatic weapons and modifying devices like bump stocks? Loesch’s answer was the first of several disingenuous deflections and attacks she made over the course of the evening. After a while, Gonzalez interrupted to remind her what the question was.
That the Parkland kids don’t share the older liberal generation’s defeatism on gun control was evident. But the things they wanted to know reminded us that in a public forum, the answers don’t matter as much as the questions. It was powerful to hear disbelief in the status quo expressed by young, frustrated people who haven’t yet learned that’s the way things are. Together with the roars and jeers of the audience, the wrenchingly unassuming questions breathed new life into a debate that gun-control advocates have mostly convinced themselves they’ve lost.
Why do they have to take the leadership role? What explains the massive failure of the advantaged, "liberal" elites who, we're told, are put to shame by the brilliance of these high school kids?
Also, to what extent are these teen-aged kids prepared to take that leadership role? The Slatersters were ready to put them in charge. But were these high school students ready to enact that novel?
Was the town hall forum "compelling terlevision?" That's what Yale 2012 said.
We thought it was an embarrassment.
A floundering sheriff shamelessly hid behind the skirts of a high school student, seeking reflected glory. A Douglas teacher confronted Loesch with a presentation so bumptious and inept that it made the analysts cringe, even as the teacher's students applauded and cheered her on.
Worst of all was the specatcle of the pressure now being dumped on the head of the very young Emma Gonzalez. At the age of 17, she shouldn't have a sheriff, and a gang of useless pundits, trying to gain reflected glory by showering praise on her head.
At age 17, there's no reason to think that she, or anyone else, should have been prepared to offer leadership in that moment.
Even so, it came to pass. Where pundits saw a precocious star, we saw a struggling high school kid subjected to much too much pressure. We saw a kid struggling in a moment for which she wasn't (yet) prepared.
Go ahead—watch that videotape! You're looking at a high school kid who's been thrown in way over her head, in large part because people like Lithwick have massively, willfully failed.
How precocious was the student's performance? Just before the start of that videotape, her performance started like this:
GONZALEZ (2/21/18): First of all, I want to thank Mr. Foster for teaching us everything we learned. I could not have written that speech without you. Half of you was like directly from notes and I want to thank you for that.Good lord. Gonzalez started as if she was giving an Oscar acceptance speech. This is what happens when extremely young people are showered with fawning praise, in a plainly unhealthy way, by the insecure and useless adults around them.
Second of all, oh—I had a thing I was going to say. Happens to the best of us. All right.
It "happens to the best of us," the student proceeded to say as she forgot her second point. This is where that video starts. As it starts, the student says this:
GONZALEZ: Dana Loesch, I want you to know that we will support your two children in the way that we will not—you will not.She started with a weirdly personal, wholly gratuitous insult. The childish among us will cheer for this. We'll say this proves that she is braver than the rest of us have been.
The shooter at our school obtained weapons that he used on us legally. Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic and—weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic, like bump stocks?
The student then proceeded to ask her fully sensible question:
Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain semi-automatic weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic, like bump stocks?That was a very good question! As the NRA spokesperson starts to respond, you'll see her condescend to the high school student, praising her for her activism, suggesting that she might end up as great as Dana Loesch!
(The high school student thanks her for that. Silence would likely have served her better.)
Loesch, of course, is a deeply experienced spokesperson. She also routinely engages in hideously divisive conduct, though she didn't do so this night.
Indeed, as Loesch proceeded from there, she seemed to say that her answer was yes! Yes, she and the NRA do want to make it harder to obtain semi-automatic weapons, at least for dangerous people like the Parkland shooter.
In fact, she seemed to say that the NRA wanted to make it impossible for disturbed people like the Parkland shooter to obtain any weapons at all. She seemed to say that she and the NRA don't want criminals or the mentally ill to have access to any weapons!
From there, Loesch seemed to start saying, disapprovingly, that many states aren't reporting the requisite information to the federal "background check" system. Unfortunately, the catcalls and the jeering were starting to drown her out.
For the third time, Loesch stopped because of the catcalls from the precocious high school kids. Here's what the young person on stage with her said:
LOESCH: It is not federal law for states to report convictions to the NICS system. It's not federally mandated. That's the big question and I wish that this network had also covered this more, as other media networks would have covered it.Loesch seemed to be offering a version of yes. Yes, she did want to make it harder to obtain semiautomatic weapons, at least for people with mental issues or criminal convictions.
That's a huge—wait a second, wait a second—
GONZALEZ: You guys, if I can't hear her statement, I can't come up with a rebuttal. Please!
That said, Gonzalez didn't seem to realize that she was receiving a version of yes. Beyond that, she seemed to assume that she was there for one reason only—to "come up with a rebuttal." It didn't seem to have entered er head that some sort of agreement might be seized upon this night.
Regarding the student's demeanor at this point, we'll only say that she was, in our view, displaying a version of the badly swollen head which will often result when very young people are pandered to by adults around them who have failed. We think that swollen head is quite evident as the student chastises the crowd.
Mountains of fawning praise tend to be bad for young people. We think you'll see this rather plainly if you watch that tape.
Eventually, you'll see the student interrupt Loesch to restate her original question. Here's what you'll see her say:
GONZALEZ: I think I'm gonna interrupt you real quick and remind you that the question is actually:The student didn't seem to realize that Loesch had been giving her a version of yes and an answer to that question. For all the childish talk about these precocious high school kids, this student didn't quite seem to understand what the NRA shill had been saying.
"Do you believe it should be harder to obtain these semi-automatic weapons and modification to make them fully automatic, such as bump stocks?"
In response to that restatement, Loesch made a fuzzy statement about bump stocks. The precocious kid let it go.
At this point, you'll see the bumptious sheriff jump in to showboat at Loesch's expense. He gets a big hand from the kids in the audience as he scolds Loesch for failing to answer a question she hadn't been asked.
Can we talk? There's zero reason why a 17-year-old student should have been thrown into that situation that night. That said, by objective standards, her performance was poor from beginning to end.
Given her age and inexperience, there was zero reason to expect anything different. She was on that stage for one reason—because liberal adults have failed.
The very next day, the useless elites at Slate swung into action. Two of them trashed the "hard, shiny little NRA talking points" of the "slick NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch."
In the familiar manner of their breed, neither made any attempt to report what Loesch had actually said. Neither made any attempt to explain what was supposed to be wrong with what Loesch had said.
Emma Gonzalez, a good and decent and very young person, should never have been on the stage. She should never have had her community's somewhat embarrassing sheriff hiding behind her skirts.
She was there because people like Lithweick have failed. They continued to fail the next day. They've failed and failed for the past thirty years, building sweet careers in the process.
Why were children on that stage? Because our extremely useless, extremely self-serving Yale/Stanford elites have failed.