Dear teenagers upset about schools being places of violence: we hear you. America hears you. And we thank you.
Speak up, and speak loudly. Don’t give in to other voices telling you you’re too young to have an opinion — that you don’t have enough “life experiences” to have a say. They are wrong, and they are foolish to suggest as much.
Your opinions may change as you grow older. That’s allowed. But how you feel today, and to express yourselves (even in outrage) is allowed too. Your opinions matter, and your voices deserve to be heard, in Washington or in your community.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a student who has witnessed a school shooting yourself or not: if you have a belief, defend it. Educate yourself, research that belief, and argue about it until you’re blue in the face if you want to. And remember: those who tell you to shut up are either unable to argue against you, or too lazy to formulate their own thoughts. Don’t be like them.
I’m nearly 34-years-old. But I was young once, too. In 2003, my high school had a walkout in opposition of the War in Iraq. Not all of my peers agreed with me, and a counter-walkout was also staged. It was hard arguing with my fellow students — but it was more difficult being dismissed by older individuals.
Some of our teachers scoffed at us. Some of our parents scolded us. And some in the news portrayed us as ignorant. But you know what? All of them were wrong.
If you have a belief in something, you are free to engage society to promote that belief. That’s a right you have, whether you’re an adult or a child.
It will be difficult, in the days ahead, for you to weather the onslaught of criticism from members of older generations. But don’t give in: you deserve to have an education, and you deserve to be safe while you pursue it.
Fight like hell. And never, ever allow anyone to tell you that you can’t, or shouldn’t, defend your ideals.
President Donald Trump released a flurry of tweets over the weekend, but one caught my eye as being especially heartless — and demonstrates the callous nature of his “win at all costs” attitude.
Trump sent out a tweet in which he blamed the FBI for missing warning signs about a shooter who killed 17 individuals at a high school in Parkland, Florida, last week.
“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter,” he wrote. “This is not acceptable.”
That line of thinking is shared by people on both the right and the left. Had Trump stopped his tweet at that sentence, there would be no reason to write anything about it at all, and very few would find reason to be critical of his statement.
Instead, Trump went out.
The FBI, Trump wrote, is “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”
The president is doing something so extreme that it should make every gut across the nation wrench with disgust. Trump is essentially hiding behind the tragedy of a mass killing in order to criticize a separate FBI investigation he doesn’t like.
This is beyond reproach. This president simply lacks a human conscience. His number one concern — above the country, above the citizens to whom he’s meant to serve — is the preservation of his own image.
This is evident in the photo-ops he took at the hospital, where many victims of last week’s shooting were being treated — and where Trump decided to smile for cameras while giving a big thumbs up.
Trump used that moment to try and bolster his image. And he’s using the tragedy to dismiss the Russia investigation.
Yes, the FBI did falter, and criticism is deserved against the agency for its failure to recognize a threat. But that failure, and the deaths of 17 individuals, should not be used as a means to an end, as a tool for Trump to brush aside allegations of wrongdoing. It’s absolutely repulsive that he chooses to do just that.
Hold your loved ones a little closer today. If you have children tell them they’re loved more than you usually do. Stay off social media if you can help it, and enjoy the company of someone you truly care about.
Those are the only bits of advice I can give you today that will make an immediate difference in your life. Because, in the wake of a mass shooting at a school in Florida, which took the lives of 17 individuals, change that will prevent such an attack in the future will not be immediate.
Republicans in Congress and the current president won’t take any action on this latest mass murder, which only took minutes to carry out. We shouldn’t be surprised — the debate on “bump stocks” following the Las Vegas mass killings didn’t result in change, either — but we should certainly be outraged.
These children did not deserve to die. Yet lawmakers in Washington and across the United States are willing to let more remain in harm’s way, all because they’re beholden to a gun lobby that pays them huge dividends to defend their market, and punishes them dearly in primary elections if they step out of line.
True leadership wouldn’t allow the NRA or any other gun lobbyist organization to stand in the way of what’s needed. There may be an inherent right to owning a weapon for protection — but that right is not absolute. And surely, a law which makes it easier to buy an AR-15 rifle than it is to buy a small handgun is a law that needs reconsideration and revision.
Will such a change come? It’s not likely with this set of lawmakers currently in office. And that’s why a change in leadership is sorely needed, now more than ever, to protect the lives of our loved ones.
Donald Trump has been consistently inconsistent, especially when it comes to how he judges others versus how he responds to others judging him. That could end up doing great harm to our democracy.
The American people, once again, witnessed the absolute grossness of the president’s character over the weekend via his Twitter account. Although he made many disparaging remarks on Saturday, one tweet especially sticks out: his insistence that members of his administration, who are alleged to have engaged in acts of grotesque abuse against their significant others, were given unfair treatment.
“People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” Trump wrote on Saturday morning. “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
Trump’s tweet was a continuation of a statement he made on Friday regarding the departure of Rob Porter, who left a position as White House staff secretary last week amid allegations from two ex-wives and another ex-girlfriend that he physically and emotionally abused them.
Trump wished his former underling well. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House. And we hope he has a wonderful career,” Trump said, adding, “He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent.”
It is disgraceful and tactless for Trump to suggest women making accusations against his officials are stating “mere allegations,” which suggests the president believes they're making the whole thing up. These women have offered documented evidence proving their accusations are legitimate. Citing “due process,” however, Trump completely ignores these women’s claims, dismissing them without consideration, in both his verbal statements and online.
Yes, we are a nation of laws, and yes, due process must be respected. But due process is a standard for a courtroom, not a presidential cabinet, and in light of overwhelming evidence contradicting his statements, it’s apparent that Porter was not a good person to have around.
Yet Trump seems to almost prefer to surround himself with people of very questionable morals and values, and chooses to ignore allegations of wrongdoing when they present themselves in some very obvious ways. This specific defense almost certainly has everything to do with allegations of abuse that follow him personally: Trump sees a bit of himself in Porter (and others like him), and rushes to his defense because it's essentially a defense of Trump.
His remarks are also highly hypocritical, as many users on Twitter have rightly pointed out. Trump wants due process for those closest to him — but for others who may oppose his political beliefs, or those whom he holds contempt for, it’s a commodity that he frequently chooses to ignore. In other words, due process is a value that matters to Trump, but only when it can be used to his own advantage.
There’s a storied list of examples to choose from that exemplify this — Trump’s insistence that the Central Park Five be given the death penalty (even after they were found to be innocent of all charges); his conspiratorial belief that Barack Obama was born outside of the United States, and thus not eligible for the presidency; and even his vociferous skepticism of the FBI, exemplify how Trump is more than happy to sling accusations against others, even without having a lick of legitimate evidence backing up his assertions. And if that's not enough to convince you, just hearken back to the 2016 campaign, when he celebrated chants of “lock her up!” against his political opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Trump rarely, if ever, corrects his accusations when he’s been proven wrong, either. Although he’s since said his remarks against Obama were a mistake, he never actually apologized to the former president for making them, and in private some have said he still maintains the errant claim is true.
In another example, this past week an investigation by federal officials into the death of a border agent found no evidence of an undocumented immigrant being responsible — a claim that Trump made at the time of the agent’s death, but for which he has not yet corrected himself on being wrong about.
In suggesting that his administration officials deserve due process while exhibiting his preference of denying (or wishing to deny) others the same courtesy, Trump demonstrates a desire for something truly nefarious: an inconsistent American democracy. Sexual, physical, and emotional abusers have no a place in the Oval Office — and to defend those deplorable actions, while attacking others using baseless pieces of “evidence,” is abhorrent behavior for any president to engage in.
It’s also a dangerous precedent to try and establish. Consistency is a bedrock principle of a democratic free state. Suggesting that the rule of law should work one way for some and a different way for others may lead to the erosion of a free and just society — a potential transition that would disturb most Americans, but apparently not Donald Trump.
The best way we can honor our soldiers is not by having a gigantic, costly parade for them through Washington D.C. The best way to honor them is to not allow Donald Trump to use the military as a prop to further his nationalistic goals.
Let’s consider for a moment Trump’s tirade against NFL players who he said dishonored the military by kneeling in silent protest, which it should be emphasized were done to highlight racial injustices in America. Does anyone with a reasonable mind truly think Trump was sincere in his chastising Twitter rants?
It’s hard to believe so, especially after watching video of him during an actual singing of the national anthem at the college football championship game. Trump flubbed the anthem, singing at some parts and stopping at others. It’s widely assumed, following that horrid performance, that he doesn’t actually know the words to the Star Spangled banner.
It’s more likely that Trump was insincere about his motivations for attacking black NFL players, using his base’s natural instincts to respect the flag in order to score political points. And that’s largely how I view his plans for an elaborate parade supposedly honoring U.S. troops.
It becomes more difficult to argue against the idea that the president is using nationalism to further his agenda when you consider that his initial budget, which he proposed last year, cut significant funding to programs meant to help veterans.
Here’s an idea: instead of spending potentially tens of millions of dollars in order to have an elaborate parade, spend that money on the troops themselves. Make sure that when they come home, they don’t just see they’re respected, but they feel as much, too.
Let’s not kid ourselves: Trump’s scheme to create a parade for the troops is really a means to a different end, one in which the president hopes to capitalize on nationalistic sentiments. That’s dangerous territory to wade in, and we should not take these plans lightly as they’re sure to move forward in the months to come.