Two years ago today, my daughter Meadow and sixteen others were murdered in the Parkland school shooting. For the families of the victims, it was an unspeakable tragedy. But for others, it was an incredible political opportunity.
The shooting propelled a handful of shrill student activists to fame. The most prominent one, David Hogg, later mused, “We really only remember a few hundred people, if that many, out of the billions that have ever lived. Is that what I was destined to become?”
No, David. My daughter wasn’t murdered so that you could fulfill your “destiny” of tweeting about historically marginalized “indigenous lgbtq women and non binary” gun control activists.
She was murdered because of the failures of the Broward County school district, sheriff’s office, and mental health services. Failures that partisan agitprop, spewed by you and the other March For Our Lives (MFOL) activists, helped to shield from the public eye.
Although I disagreed with the gun control kids politically, I made it a rule not to criticize them publicly. Because I figured that despite our differences, we all wanted the same thing: safe schools.
But the last straw came last month, when MFOL teamed up with the Southern Poverty Law Center to sue the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which had investigated everything that went wrong and proposed concrete solutions.
They sued because a meeting adjourned before one of the gun control kids could speak, presumably to denounce the commission for proposing solutions other than gun control.
My first reaction when I heard that was to be surprised that any of the gun control kids even showed up. The Commission had been meeting for a year-and-a-half, and I never saw MFOL take an interest in why their peers got murdered.
After a meeting in August, 2018, the parents of all of the victims stood united to call out the school district’s failures and call on Broward County to elect new school board members. Only one MFOL kid showed up, Cameron Kasky, and he was about to quit the organization.
We tried hard to get David Hogg and his friend, Emma Gonzalez, to take an interest in understanding what went wrong, and holding local officials accountable. Both of them gave me their word of honor that they would support our effort to elect new school board members. The Broward County establishment was trying to smear the families of victims as right-wing reactionaries for demanding answers and change.
One tweet by either of them could have turned the tide of public opinion and helped to deliver justice and accountable for the murdered. But they totally ghosted us. Not even one tweet.
David Hogg told us that he couldn’t endorse any candidates. But that didn’t stop him from endorsing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a “future president” and later endorsing a socialist for a school board race in another school district. For all Hogg’s tweets about keeping billionaires and dark money out of politics, we now know that MFOL was bankrolled by dark money from liberal millionaires and billionaires.
Liberal billionaire Eli Broad gave the group one million dollars. His organization, the Broad Foundation, also trained and celebrated Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie and promoted the leniency policies that he pioneered in Broward, which played a key role in letting the shooter slip through the cracks.
So maybe it was no wonder that Hogg and his friends refused to stand with the parents of the victims. After all, if you’re an ambitious kid who thinks you’re destined for world-historical greatness as a leftist Twitterer, it’s probably not smart to criticize someone your biggest funder supports.
It’s a deep shame, because the local failures in Parkland have major national implications. As Eli Broad’s organization has boasted, the Obama administration took note of Runcie’s “PROMISE Program,” which reduced arrests by 70 percent by giving students three free misdemeanors ever year, and made national policy based on it.
The Parkland school shooting was the most avoidable mass murder in American history. And the Obama administration took the policies that made it inevitable and forced them into school districts across America – including probably your child’s.
For my part, I did everything I could to expose the truth so that parents could learn from the facts and understand what they need to do to keep their kids safe. That’s why I wrote Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter.
But most Americans never heard any of the facts. They just saw a bunch of teenagers, funded by millions of dark money dollars, throw temper tantrums on stage and on Twitter.
Any question of what went wrong or why was quickly stigmatized by a sycophantic media as a “right-wing” thing. And any criticism of those kids’ opportunistic and ridiculous behavior was condemned as somehow beyond the pale.
Still, I never wanted to criticize them. But now that they’ve decided to sue the state commission that found the answers about why their peers were murdered, it’s my turn to “call BS.”
Those activists became nothing more than a crude political tool of the Democrat party. They accomplished absolutely nothing productive. They hijacked the tragedy to register more kids to vote for Democrats. They kept the truth of what went wrong and why out of the national spotlight.
Students across America are less safe because of them.
Andrew Pollack is a school safety advocate and co-author of Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students.