It’s difficult, if not impossible, to feel unsympathetic toward survivors of the Parkland shooting, or the families of the slain. Those who do, even when they are tired of the media’s persistent use of this small group of individuals for narrative-building ends, should probably check just what their priorities in life are.
That said, a week and a half after a young man who appears to have suffered from a grave mental illness killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a few things that may be politically incorrect to say have become clear. Surviving a shooting does not make you an expert on gun policy. Losing a child doesn’t make you a professor on Second Amendment case law. Losing a friend in a shooting does not imbue you with special knowledge regarding so-called “gun show loopholes” or why the AR-15 is so much more dangerous than other weapons.
And yes, as much as my sympathies and prayers are with them, these survivors have been used as part of a media campaign of transparent demagogy in decided favor of wide-ranging gun control measures. While we understand the desire of these individuals to be heard, the selective and meretricious way in which they’ve been presented is yet another trust-eroding episode for a damaged American media landscape.
I say selective because the issue is often who is presented, not just what they have to say. David Hogg, a young man who survived the shooting, has built up so much name recognition in the last week and a half that I would wager many Americans who couldn’t name their senators or governor could identify the newly minted gun control activist on first sight.
Yet, those students or parents who deviate from the narrative — even if they have their own solutions for school shootings — are pretty much marginalized in the eyes of a media which is willing to uncritically embrace any idea that comes out of a high schooler’s mouth.
Take the case of Andrew Pollack. Pollack is a father who lost his daughter Meadow in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Pollack lashed out at a media he feels is using his daughter’s death as a pretext for gun control.
Some may remember Pollack as one of the attendees of President Trump’s listening session at the White House last week, which included survivors of mass shootings and the families of those who have been killed.
“I’m here because my daughter has no voice. She was murdered last week,” an emotional Pollack said at the White House.
Instead of gun control, however, Pollack’s message involved increased school safety.
“I can’t get on a plane with a bottle of water, but we leave some animal to walk into a school and shoot our children,” Pollack said.
For those calling for increased school security, most of whom were on the GOP side, Pollack became one of the faces of change. However, compared to the amount of network and cable time dedicated to Hogg, Pollack couldn’t exactly be described as a hot item.
The reason, to Pollack, was simple: he wasn’t calling for gun control:
“It’s not going to be fixed because I just heard what you said, what you are focusing on, polarizing this event, the murder of these kids. You’re talking about gun control,” Pollack told host Chris Wallace, according to RealClearPolitics.
Pollack appeared on the show after Fox broadcast an interview with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, whose discussion revolved around the issue of limiting gun sales.
“I just had to listen to you and Gov. Scott talk about gun control. Gun control is a big issue. No one in America is going to come together on control, Chris,” Pollack said.
“You didn’t say one thing about fixing it!” he exclaimed. “We can get together on school safety. But when you polarize it, this event and every other media — we don’t care about gun control right now. That’s a big issue in the country and you’re not going to get everyone together on it.”
“You’re just talking about gun control, which is going to just give you more ratings,” he added. “Today it’s not about guns, it’s about the safety in our schools. And that’s what you ask Gov. Scott about and I got to listen to that at my house.”
Now, is Andrew Pollack an expert on school safety? It’s unlikely. However, given that he’s a parent and also likely familiar with security at his daughter’s high school, one would imagine he’s probably more qualified to talk about his subject of choice than David Hogg.
And, as for the media’s manipulation of the Parkland shooting into a sensationalized, divisive national squabble over the Second Amendment, one needs only to watch an hour or two of network news to realize how sadly correct Mr. Pollack is.
If Parkland is to become something more than a cultural battleground over our constitutional rights, it’s time for an honest discussion. Not a confrontation. Not a drummed-up ratings bonanza. It needs to be an honest discussion about what Americans can come together on in order to protect our children.
Sadly, I don’t see that happening. It’s worth noting that after social media users found out the Mr. Pollack was a supporter of President Trump, he was mercilessly attacked by liberals. Our social fabric has been broken to such an extent that people will now attack the father of a dead child simply because of who he supports. That fact alone could easily explain why nothing of substance is likely to come out any effort that involves the White House or the GOP working with the Democrats or the left.
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