Conservatives have gone to some extreme lengths to defend the Second Amendment. But in the wake of the Marches for Our Lives, they’re picking on teenagers.Student survivors of the shooting at Marjory Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, organized thousands of people to descend on Washington, D.C., on Saturday to bring attention to mass shootings and demand stricter gun control. And Emma González, an 18-year-old Parkland student survivor, has become one of the loudest voices. Conservatives don’t like that.
Most recently, Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King’s Facebook page posted a meme on Sunday criticizing González for wearing a patch of the Cuban flag on the jacket she wore when she spoke at the march."This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don't speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self defense," the meme said alongside an image of Cuban-American González speaking at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington on Saturday.King has taken some heat since the meme appeared on his page. Activists have tweeted at him and commented on his Facebook page to demand that he explain himself.“Are you SERIOUSLY mocking a school shooting survivor for her ethnic identity?!” Brandon Wolf, a Pulse nightclub shooting survivor, commented on King’s Facebook post. “Emma stood for 6 mins and 20 seconds to honor the lives of 17 gone too soon. The least you could do is shut your privileged, ineffective trap for 6 seconds to hear someone else's perspective.”King’s Facebook page responded by reassuring Wolf that he would win re-election.“Pointing out the irony of someone wearing the flag of a communist country while simultaneously calling for gun control isn't ‘picking’ on anyone. It's calling attention to the truth, but we understand that lefties find that offensive,” King’s page wrote. “P.S. Congressman King will win re-election in a landslide :)”
King’s congressional office did not respond immediately to VICE News request for comment but told The Washington Post that the campaign team was responsible for the meme, not King himself.“And the meme in question obviously isn’t an attack on her ‘heritage’ in any way,” a spokesperson told the Post in an email. “It merely points out the irony of someone pushing gun control while wearing the flag of a country that was oppressed by a Communist, anti-gun regime. Pretty simple, really.”González hasn’t publicly responded to King, but she did retweet David Hogg, another survivor of the shooting.
King isn’t the only member of the GOP attacking the student at the forefront of the #NeverAgain movement. Conservative Twitter accounts have been spreading a fake video of González tearing the U.S. Constitution in half. In reality, González was ripping apart a gun-range target for a Teen Vogue story about teenage activists.Actor Adam Baldwin tweeted the doctored video to his over 200,000 followers. The Twitter account for Gab, a social network popular with the alt-right that’s similar to Twitter, also shared the video, which now has more than 1,700 retweets. Gab has also been tweeting other altered photos and memes of González.
The attacks on Gonzalez are part of the Right's attempt to discredit the students. On the day of the march, the NRA posted a Facebook status questioning the authenticity of the protests.
Prior conspiracy theories contended the Parkland students’ interviews were scripted, or even worse, that the students were paid “crisis actors.” Most of this conspiracy centered on Hogg, another particularly vocal survivor of the Parkland massacre.
Hogg vehemently denied the accusations.“I'm not a crisis actor,” he said in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. “I'm someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that.”
Cover image: Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., closes her eyes and cries as she stands silently at the podium for the same amount of time it took the Parkland shooter to go on his killing spree, during the "March for Our Lives" rally in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik File)