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Apr 11, 18

The Frightwing Opportunists of Parkland

The following is a first look and an analysis at the emerging far-Right forces that are attempting to push their own agenda outside of the Centrist, pro-DNC, and pro-gun control groups like March for Our Lives, in the wake of the Parkland shooting. To listen to our critical podcast discussion on March For Our Lives, go here.

Its been almost two months since the Valentine’s Day massacre at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School. Since then, the outrage that has spawned the “Never Again/March For Our Lives” movement has also inspired many off-shoots with varying agendas. Some of them have been rather positive, including the successful effort by black MSD students to make a national conversation about the intersection between M4OL, the Movement for Black Lives, and “common” gun violence affecting black communities.

There have also been less positive developments which we will discuss here. The right-wing establishment and fringe has very little political power to speak of in Broward County. But in the aftermath of the Parkland massacre, there’s blood in the water, and the creeps are circling. Some are old, some are new.

Most of them are parroting combinations of the following talking points:

  • that the focus is on “securing our schools,” aka more power to the police/not doing anything about guns, to say nothing of white male/white supremacist violence
  • demanding resignations of BSO Sheriff Israel and Broward School Superintendent Runcie/vaguely accusing their departments of widespread corruption
  • blaming the “PROMISE” program, which attempts to keep non-violent teenage offenders out of the Broward justice system, for the massacre and overall lack of “school safety” in Broward

These talking points originating from Broward have become an influential part of the right-wing echo chamber online, getting daily attention from NRA’s Dana Loesch, Breitbart, and other spin machines that are desperate to break apart M4OL’s power over the post-Parkland discourse. They also, of course, provide cover for the wider anti-M4OL fringe, that are mostly composed of Alt-Right remnants – the crisis actor memes, the “deep state” conspiracies, etc.

Perhaps the most concerning of the new batch is the Pollack family, who started “#meadowsmovement” after their family member, Heather Pollack, was killed at MSD. The Pollack family has very successfully organized charity events and collaborated with many of the other “March for Our Lives” groups while promoting an explicitly Pro-Gun, Pro-Trump, Pro-Police agenda that is very contradictory to the overall goals of M4OL. Andrew Pollack, Heather’s father, has even been personally appointed by Governor Rick Scott to the “MSD panel” that will convene later this month to come up with solutions to the “school safety” crisis. The Pollacks, of course, also are enthusiastic endorsers of Rick Scott’s Senate bid. The Pollacks are extremely up-front with their agenda and its really a wonder more people haven’t noticed by now.

Another rising star is MSD student Kyle Kashuv, who is a right-wing cause celebre at this point, meeting with the President and appearing on various right-wing news shows. Kashuv is an ardent Trump and 2nd amendment supporter that hasn’t hesitated to cash in on the tragedy of MSD to be a torch bearer for our nation’s dominant white supremacist narrative. He’s currently trying to get Turning Point USA leader Charlie Kirk to speak at MSDHS.

Most recently, a home-schooled, 19 year old person named Kenneth Preston muckraked some headlines by claiming he was going to blow the whistle on Broward County School Board’s alleged misuse of $100 million that was supposed to go towards school safety. He’s also one of the latest of a flood of right wing spin artists that have gone after the “PROMISE” program by falsely claiming that that program kept Nikolas Cruz in the school system, making his rampage possible. His attempt to indict the School Board at its board meeting this Tuesday was a bit of a dud, but the usual right wing spin machine immediately picked it up. 

Long-time area conspiracists and bigots have been trying to get a piece of the action too. David Rosenthal, whose group “Citizen’s Action Group of South Florida,” was recently added to the SPLC’s hate group monitor, has been protesting on a weekly basis around Broward, calling for the resignation of BSO Sheriff Israel – but, of course, his main motivation is that he believes that BSO is part of an Islamo-socialist conspiracy to implement Sharia law. Fellow Islamophobe traveler Tom Trento of “The United West Against Islam” has also been excited to get one of his favorite Islamophobic conspiracy theories back into wider circulation.

There’s still a lot of timidity, outrage, and confusion after the massacre here. And these people seem all-too-willing to exploit it, to stop M4OL’s momentum, and to break up the liberal order here in Broward County. Few, if any, public meetings, vigils, or forums, have gone by here, without there being at least one, if not dozens, of panicking parents and teachers, screaming and crying for someone to protect their children. It’s a dangerous situation.

The rush for the Democratic Party to “do something” about school safety has been dangerous enough so far, but you might want to start worrying about what proto-fascists have in store for us. If they are able to build a front to give ever-greater powers to the fascist federal and state government and their police, and along the way further criminalize minority youths and the mentally ill, Parkland’s youth will indeed have died for nothing.

Cover photo: Andrea Hanks, White House.

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