The Parkland school shooting, the 18th school shooting in the U.S. in 2018, is nearly one week old, and it doesn’t feel like any of the others quite yet. The expected cycle of discussion surrounding gun control, mental health and the empty criticism of the event’s politicizing is trying its best to unfold, but the Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivors, most notably the students, are not letting the status quo reign. In the days since the shooting, rallies, speeches, media appearances and a planned march on D.C. have all been planned and conducted by these young people who are tired of the political discourse that ultimately leads to another shooting. Their bravery and inability to let their voices fall silent has been celebrated by many across the nation.
Not everyone is enjoying the emboldened youth, however.
Conspiracy theories are floated about every event with the most menial of political implications, so it should come as no surprise that the alt-right woodwork has drummed up some fantastic examples in desperately connecting-the-dots in an effort to discredit the youth of Parkland, Fla. What is surprising, and troubling, is to see someone intimately connected to the president of the United States supporting such unfounded claims.
Tuesday morning, Donald Trump Jr. liked two different tweets from alt-right news outlets that attempt to discredit one of the outspoken students who survived the Parkland shooting, David Hogg. Right-wing talk show host Graham Ledger, of OANN, and alt-right website True Pundit posted tweets promoting a theory that Hogg’s father, an ex-FBI agent, influenced the anti-Trump comments made by the student in an effort to cover up the agency’s inability to identify and apprehend the Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz.
Though it is very popular on Twitter to not equate likes or retweets to endorsements, there really isn’t any other way to take Trump Jr.’s actions. It’s hard to divorce someone’s feelings from a social media device that literally means that you find some satisfaction with the thing in question, and this example of that is both shocking and not in the current political climate. If there is one aspect of the story in which supporters of the Parkland survivors can take solace, it’s that DTJ’s heart icon is far from anything that will derail a collection of motivated young people who are just now realizing the power they hold.