Blue State Blues: David Hogg, Lord of the Flies

David Hogg wasted an incredible opportunity on Thursday, when Fox News host Laura Ingraham apologized for mocking him on Twitter the day before.

Hogg has emerged as one of the more obnoxious gun control activists among the survivors of last month’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He has accused the National Rifle Association (NRA) of being money-grubbing “child murderers,” to cite just one example among many.

So when news emerged that Hogg had been rejected from four University of California schools, Ingraham could not resist the temptation to rub it in: “David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it,” she tweeted.

Rather than shrugging it off, Hogg responded by calling his Twitter followers — well over 600,000 — to pressure the advertisers on Ingraham’s show to drop her program. A handful of companies immediately agreed.

On Thursday, Ingraham issued an apology — “in the spirit of Holy Week” — and invited Hogg onto her program to share his views.

It was a gracious gesture — even if accompanied, perhaps, by some amount of advertising pressure and management arm-twisting.

It was also a golden opportunity for Hogg to show magnanimity. Had he accepted her apology and invitation, Hogg could have seized the moral high ground, and rallied the country to his cause.

Instead, Hogg rejected her apology, tweeting that Ingraham had just wanted “to save [her] advertisers.” He then exploited the apology, daring her to “denounce” her network’s coverage of the students (which has actually, at times, been obsequious in its empathy).

Having attacked Ingraham, Hogg hid behind false piety, and his youth: “It’s time to love thy neighbor, not mudsling at children,” he said.

Hogg then redoubled his efforts to pressure her advertisers online.

It was a strategic blunder by Hogg, the latest in series of mistakes by the gun control movement after last Saturday’s nationwide marches, the worst of which was a New York Times op-ed by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens calling for the Second Amendment to be repealed. (If Republicans needed a way to rouse their voter base from complacency in the midterm elections, that was it.)

But more than a political mistake, Hogg’s rejection of Ingraham’s apology revealed the disturbing folly of the idea of entrusting these “children” with national leadership.

Hogg and his classmates are using their power to attack the fundamental legal and moral architecture of our society — not just the Second Amendment, but also the First. He would rather destroy Ingraham’s platform than use it for his own purposes.

And all the while, Hogg cloaks himself in the language of tolerance. “[D]o not attack each other talk to one another, this applies to me too,” he said several weeks ago in a tweet he pinned to his profile, and evidently forgot.

The boycotters claim that they are not violating the First Amendment. They point out that the Amendment only applies to the government, not to private corporations.

(After years of complaining about, and campaigning against, the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, the left has suddenly decided that corporations have free speech rights.)

But they know they are violating the spirit of the First Amendment, and the ideal of the open society.

They do not care. In their view, the ends justify the means.

And the goal, they say, is to save the lives of children. Anyone opposing that goal either wants children to die, or is indifferent to their murder.

The charge makes any kind of debate — on the rare occasion an opposing view is actually allowed — almost impossible.

The atmosphere that Hogg and his fellow activists brings to mind William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies. The story there was also about a group of children “survivors.”

In the aftermath of shared trauma, some of the boys try to re-establish the rules of civilization — basic things, like allowing each person to speak, one at a time, while holding a conch shell.

The others, finding themselves suddenly without grownups around, revel in the destructive exercise of “savage” power for its own sake.

The grownups guiding (and funding) Hogg and his classmates seem to have failed to impart one of the basic rules of Judeo-Christian society, which is the importance of forgiveness.

Without it, as Hannah Arendt observed in The Human Condition, our society becomes trapped in a cycle of unintended harms.

In abusing their newfound power, Hogg and company are tugging at the threads of our civilization, unraveling the social fabric that holds us together, exacerbating our common, but divided, pain.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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