Thousands of Students Demand School Shootings End—Awakening to Political Life, Confronting Big Questions

Updated March 13, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |



Outraged that schools have become war zones, heartbroken at losing loved ones, fed up with post-massacre “thoughts and prayers,” and determined to end the epidemic of school massacres, thousands of students rallied, protested, and walked out of schools this past week, demanding these shootings end! “Never again should an innocent life be taken while trying to gain an education,” one student declared.

Sparked by the massacre of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students across South Florida walked out: 3,000 protested at Florida’s State Capitol in Tallahassee, and others protested in Washington, DC, Silver Spring, Maryland, as well as in Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington state. National protests are being planned for March 14 and 24.

Everyone should be outraged and digging into why this is happening and how to stop it for real!

Awakening and Confronting Big Questions

The students in Florida and others have come straight up against a hideous manifestation of the real nature of this system and society and the horrors and madness it spawns. Big questions are posed and the students are searching for answers. They’re speaking out about what it means to go through one of these murderous rampages—or to live in fear of one. They’re demanding it stop. And they’re saying they’re going to be the ones that will stop it. There’s a streak of contempt for the political establishment that’s allowed this to continue, and rage at groups like the NRA with its fascist gun culture. It is criminally insane that young people simply trying to go to school, get an education, hang with friends, and grow into life are being shot down in American schools.

There are a lot of conflicting ideas in the mix.

The students’ main demand, one the Democrats and liberal media have pushed for years, is gun control. If you think the problem is a few crazed, hate-filled, or deranged people who’ve gotten hold of high-powered automatic weapons, then gun control seems like the obvious, immediate, practical way to make sure such people can’t get such weapons and that students are safe.

But the problem is bigger and deeper.

The reality is that mass violence is as American as apple pie, woven into its fabric and DNA. It is rooted in the origins and history of America, its system and its political structures, the social relations and the culture it has given rise to and continues to reinforce. To change this, you have to get at those roots.

For an open, painful sore, it may seem logical to apply a band-aid. But if it is a symptom and manifestation of a deeper problem like cancer, it will not work, and may even do harm.

Gun Control and Background Checks: Is the Answer Really Giving This System, This State MORE Power?

What will it mean to enact gun control laws and background checks?

Do we want to give even more power to Trump and his cohorts who say the white supremacists in Charlottesville are “fine people”?

Do we want to give even more power and even more of a free hand to this system’s armed enforcers? In neighborhoods not far from Stoneman Douglas or almost any other high school, you will find police are already harassing, jacking up, violently assaulting, incarcerating, and killing Black and Brown youths. You will find ICE ripping immigrant families apart.

Consider the contrast between how Florida treated George Zimmerman and Marissa Alexander: Zimmerman stalked the unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin, assaulted him, and then shot the 17-year-old dead. Marissa Alexander was a victim of ongoing domestic abuse who feared for the safety of her children, so she fired a warning shot into the air. Yet, Zimmerman walked free and Marissa Alexander was torn from her children and sent to prison!

Or consider this: During CNN’s February 22 Town Hall on this school massacre, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel argued that police should be able to detain people before they were deemed a threat to themselves or others.

But the police, not just in Broward County but around the country, have been caught on camera time and time and time again beating people to death, tasing people to death, shooting kids in the back, choking unarmed men to death, planting drugs on those they’ve beaten, and on and on. Overwhelmingly the victims of this terror are Black and Brown—and almost always the police walk scot free.

Or consider this: Stoneman Douglas student Lorenzo Prado desperately feared for his life when a local SWAT team temporarily mistook him for the shooter. The reality behind his story of legitimate terror: “I, not trying to be one of those news stories of someone dying wrongfully because they refused to put their hands up, I just dropped my phone at that moment and kept going.... I had six SWAT members pointing their guns at me.... I knew any move I made would be the end of my life.”

THIS is the capitalist-imperialist state (the institutions and structures, including the armed enforcers like the police, that maintain and enforce the political power of this system and its ruling class) that would be given even more power through background checks and gun control legislation.

This state itself cannot be given the power to further regulate the ability of people to defend themselves against reactionary and illegitimate violence, as this state is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. Any additional powers to which you lend your voice to legitimize this will sooner or later—and usually sooner—be used against the people and against political movements of resistance.

This happened in the 1920s against immigrants and radicals. During World War 2, when the Japanese were interned. In the 1950s, repression was unleashed against suspected communists. And in the 1960s, through the FBI’s notorious COINTELPRO program against revolutionaries and civil rights and antiwar groups. Ever expanding instruments of state repression and spying—legitimized as the “War on Terror”—were turned on Muslim communities after 9/11, and more recently against Occupy and the mass protest movements against police murder.

Don’t be foolish. New gun control measures would only heighten that repression. Guns—especially high-powered automatic weapons—would NOT be taken from the state and its brutal military and police. Proposed background checks allow sections of the people—like the NRA and the white-supremacist fascists who marched in Charlottesville―who say they are preparing for “race war”—to still buy guns, while barring others.

Mass Violence—As American as Apple Pie!

This country was forged through massive violence, against the oppressed and the exploited—with guns, bombs, slave shackles, lynching ropes. From the genocide of Native Americans, to the enslavement and lynching of Black people, to the “Wild West” expansion and theft of Mexican land, to the brutal exploitation of immigrants, to imperialist wars around the world—the Philippines, Vietnam, Haiti, El Salvador, Iraq, and the list goes on and on. American Crime at documents these in a continuing series. It’s what this country is built on: white supremacy, misogyny, and American imperialist supremacy.

American violence is not a partisan issue. Let’s look at the Democrats’ record: they ushered in the nuclear nightmare at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They’ve started and supported murderous war after war, from Vietnam to Iraq to Central America. Under Bill and Hillary Clinton, mass incarceration, police terror, and border militarization skyrocketed. Now leading Democrats like Chuck Schumer and others are collaborating with and normalizing the fascist Donald Trump.

Democrat mayors, governors, and other politicians are rushing to the side of the Florida students on “gun control.” Why? *

A sharp divide exists among the ruling forces of this society—and gun control has become part of this battle. It isn’t over whether to put an end to all the unjust violence the U.S. inflicts upon the world through its wars, or on Black and Brown people in this country through prisons and police, or any of the other horrors that are rooted in this system. This fight is over how best to respond at a time of great change—and the Trump/Pence fascist regime and the Democrats, both representing different sections of the ruling class of this system, have different worldviews and programs on this. (See “When it comes to driving out Trump/Pence FASCISM, the Democratic Party is part of the problem and NOT part of the solution”.)

Trump and the Republicans, and the NRA have, so far, adamantly opposed any gun control measures. It is not essentially because they are beholden to the “gun lobby.” It’s because they are fascists. An important element of that is keeping weapons directly in the hands of their white-supremacist, xenophobic social base—as a vicious video released by the NRA last year made clear.

American violence is fostered and celebrated by a culture awash in violence, misogyny, and an ethos of “me first and fuck everyone else.” How many TV shows and movies center on “righteous” bloodthirsty revenge? How many video games celebrate and score points for wanton violence? Heightened, accentuated, and openly advocated and violently reinforced—with a vengeance—by the fascist Trump/Pence regime, this system’s mouthpieces and representatives claim that the problem is just a few “sick” individuals?

An important reality has been pointed to by students and others again and again in the media: America is unique in the world for this kind of crazed, destructive mass shooting. Democratic mouthpieces chalk this vast difference in shootings up to a single factor: gun control laws. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface!

What is truly unique about America? It is #1 in dropping bombs—including nuclear bombs—on people around the world. It is #1 in genocide and slavery, in mass incarceration and torture. It is #1 in individualist, revenge-ist, me-first culture and fostering victimhood among the privileged. THIS is inseparable from the phenomenon of mass shooters.

It is impossible to understand the roots of mass shootings—or come close to getting beyond them—without connecting to this larger fabric that must be ripped apart and transformed.

Students: Raise Your Sights to the Whole World

DACA recipients, many of them your fellow students, are—for now—able to continue, and renew, their status, which provides temporary protection from deportation. But the Dreamers' lives and future are still hanging by a thread, facing the possibility that DACA could be ended without warning, making them immediately deportable. Eleven million immigrants are also being threatened with mass deportation, and many will see their families torn apart or even sent to their deaths if America carries out these threats.

What about the people and youth of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, who are right now being killed by the biggest of U.S. guns? Or the people and youth of North Korea and Iran, threatened by American nukes? Can you put yourself in their shoes? Can you imagine their dreams? Are you standing up for and with them?

As you awaken to the horrors of this country and what it does, lift your sights to the emancipation of all of humanity. Otherwise none of these burning outrages will end, and in many ways you could end up being pitted against others whose lives are being wantonly destroyed by the same system that is responsible for the school shootings you’re rightly outraged about.

The real insanity is leaving in place this capitalist-imperialist system built on racism, genocide, and misogyny which doesn’t give a shit about youth in Parkland, Florida, or people anywhere else. It’s the same system that’s driving the world toward environmental calamity with global warming, and threatening it with nuclear holocaust. It’s going to take nothing less than an actual revolution to change that.

To those agonizing over the latest school shooting and those who abhor it—dig more deeply into the history of this country and the nature of this society. Rise up, resist, and revolt against all abuses and outrages going on, and against the system underlying them. Come to and get into the most radical revolutionary vision, strategy, and plan for a whole new world, without the needless carnage and insanity that is an American hallmark.

* George and Amal Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, and others are pouring millions of dollars into supporting the coming marches promoting gun control and voting for the Democrats this fall. Yet they’re not pouring millions into stopping much graver, immediate threats: the attacks on DACA and immigrants, the threats of war, even nuclear war, against Iran and North Korea, the consolidation and normalization of the fascist Trump/Pence regime. In fact, they are feeding a dynamic where these monumental concerns that affect billions around the planet are pushed out of sight as they grind rapidly towards greater horror. [back]




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