Toronto According the Wall Street Journal, more than one-million students walked out of their classes to commemorate the lives of seventeen, mostly fellow students, killed by gunfire in Florida only weeks ago. The national map of where students undertook the seventeen-minute strike showed clearly that these actions were distributed throughout the country in hundreds and hundreds of communities. The reports and photographs of a thousand walking out there, another 1000 here, and hundreds and thousands everywhere were powerful. The signs and posters were moving as they both demanded change and begged for protection, so that they would not be among the next victims of gun violence in the nation’s schools.
Was this student strike significant or simply symbolic?
668 copycat threats of gun school shootings were recorded in the two weeks after the Florida massacre at Parkland. There was one incident resulting in one death and an arrest for manslaughter on the day of the student strike.
The fear is real. The need for change is urgent.
Will it matter?
Perhaps not to the old men running Congress, the White House, and many statehouses, but this is a sign of good things to come for a generation rising, rather than the one soon fading. As the children’s crusade moves forward and demands its voice be heard, parents and even grandparents will increasingly be unable to ignore their prayers and will feel the fear themselves as these unbroken and relentless tragedies pour over daily life in community after community.
These millions may be ignored now by the fear of little men and women hiding behind the claim of “politics,” while trying to divine the shifting sands of their constituents on guns and weather the wind from the NRA blowhards, but they won’t be silenced and ignored forever.
Karl Rove worried in the same back pages of the Journal that held the headlines on the frontpages of the paper that more than a million were marching that in the wake of the win by a young Democratic upstart in a solidly Republican district in Pennsylvania that “Trump 2.0” can’t win against something that is not “Hillary 2.0” even in in such districts if they can not appeal to “soft” Republicans and independents. He fretted that Republican-lite (pro-life, pro-gun, etc) in an attractive Democratic package could win unless Republicans did the real work on elections. Rove counseled that it would not be enough to mimic Trump, hip shoot, and rail at the night. That’s good advice for candidates of any and all parties, and from what we have seen thus far it is not advice that Republicans are yet ready to embrace.
The children can sense the change that is coming. Democrat heavy and Republican-lite will move away from the NRA and its tirades and extremism. Reform will come in small steps as we have seen in Florida, but it will come, and the leaps will become longer. It will be harder for the old men to not seem hopelessly out of step when they continue to have no answer to innocent children being killed senselessly in public schools that are a public and community responsibility. Tragically, scores more may die, but the millions now and those to come will not be denied their demands for change.