Dear brave, young people of Parkland,
You don’t need my advice as you continue your astounding push for tougher American gun laws.
But here goes, anyway:
Turn down George and Amal Clooney’s $500,000. Say no to the matching half-mils from Oprah and Spielberg, too. Do not take a single nickel from any Hollywood admirer who has been as moved and inspired as the rest of America by your primal scream of anguish for 17 of your classmates and teachers.
You alone own this moral high road you never wanted to walk. This is not the time to give the illusion of selling it.
But you’re also old enough that you don’t need adults to try and fail to put into words what it was like for you when Nikolas Cruz went mad with an AR-15. The child survivors of Sandy Hook hadn’t your cutting way with words, your teenage bluntness, your unwillingness to pretend BS isn’t BS.
In a handful of short, anguished days, without a single nickel, you’ve done more to change the gun conversation in this country than any well-heeled celebrities whose advocacy has been no match for the NRA and the bought-off politicians who do their dealing.
Because of you, President Trump – who in 2016 benefitted from the NRA’s $30 million suck-up – has promised to ban the bump stock, an attachment that allows a semi-automatic rifle to shoot continuously, like an automatic.
Because of you, Marco Rubio now supports raising the minimum age to buy a gun in Florida from 18 to 21 and will consider restricting the size of magazines for firearms.
Because of you, this country has a chance to end the mass shootings that have torn into our schools, churches, nightclubs, concerts and souls.
But it’s a fragile chance. Already, the NRA and its toadies are looking for opportunities to call into question your purity of intent. And when they can’t find them, they make them up. They’re already spread a vile story that one of your most eloquent young survivors, David Hogg, is a “fake” student,” a “plant,” who is being coached by anti-Trump forces hell-bent on taking down the president.
You could let the hateful rumor jar you. Or you could accept it as evidence that your unimpeachable moral authority has the Far Right running scared.
You’ve got them by their bump stocks.
That’s why the worst thing you could do right now is take money from anyone whose moral authority on this is ideological, not born of horrible experience. Clooney et al are proud Democrats and big financial supporters of progressive causes. But their donated wealth – millions, over decades – has made not one iota of difference when it comes to healing our national gun sickness.
It won’t do anything now, either, because this cause does not need money. It needs the righteousness you’ve come by the hard way. Don’t let well-intentioned celebrity donations – as much as the money would ease the financial strain of getting to the Capitol for your planned April march – taint you in a way you cannot come back from.
Hold car washes and bake sales instead. Take on extra babysitting weekends and shifts at McDonald’s.
Show the politicians in the NRA’s pocket that you’re beholden to no one but the 17 souls whose voices were silenced on Valentine’s Day.
You speak for them now. And you can’t be bought.