• 57°

Students are revolting…

For one brief, shining moment in March, protests across the nation looked like 1969 all over again, as if scores of thousands, perhaps even millions, of young students had at last found an issue that united and motivated them,: gun control.

Yet would it last? Would protests effect any changes in public policy or, like Occupy and the pink-hatted Woman’s March, just fade into memory? Would all those young Americans be inspired to a lifetime of activism or, like our cynical generation, abandon Washington profoundly disillusioned by their self-evident political impotence and shun politics altogether?

The NRA, Rick Santorum, Laura Ingraham, and seasoned, battle-hardened political veterans, mostly right-wing Republicans, knew exactly how to handle students they found “revolting.” Besides, they don’t vote.

Indeed, Republicans attacked and mocked protests, students, and parents derisively, gleefully calling them “whining,” even “skinhead lesbians.” Incapable of organizing such large-scale protests on their own, they argued, gullible “kids” fell prey to manipulative “gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites.”

Local politicos, following the NRA’s playbook, did the same.

Bob Wolfe, of Tryon, blamed “violent video games and Hollywood films” along with “FBI incompetence,” not the All-American NRA which “promotes gun responsibility, gun safety, the rule of law and defends the U.S. Constitution” — no matter how many young bodies stack up in our schools.

Students proved no match for the NRA’s slick, multimillion dollar campaign contributions and lobbying efforts, or for its clever pivot to phony cultural wars, all without mentioning regulation or controls.  Not a single major politician, Democrat or Republican, marched with the protesters or endorsed their stand.

Safe in their deeply red, gerrymandered districts, many hard-right Republicans like Steve King, of Iowa, saw only political gain in attacking them.

Given hardening political divisions in America, there aren’t going to be any big changes, not directly or indirectly for years. No “arise-ye-students-from-your-slumber” protests will change our world as they did in the 1960s.

Milton Ready, Tryon