Conservative response to youth activism shows why we need it


Shirah Lister

Generation Z is often seen as lazy and uninterested in politics. Conservatives talk about Generation Z kids as being apathetic and disengaged. After all, we have all the technology in the world in our hands, so why go for a walk? In reality, Generation Z is the opposite of lazy.

We are engaged, active, and innovative. We are activists. We are rallying and marching and fighting for a better future. We are moving forward. What many conservatives are mad about is not that we are lazy and unengaged, it is that our engagement is about to cost them their jobs.

Conservatives only want us to be active when we are active with them, not against. Conservatives know, even if they won’t admit it, that we are the future, and if they want to promote their right-wing views through the coming generations, they will need us on their side.

The Parkland shooting, in particular, has encouraged the youth to get involved with politics. Teens have realized that their voice matters and that when they speak out, they will be heard. Parkland shooting survivors have used this power to change history. But this activism sparked a major backlash from right-wing conservatives, who have criticized teenage activists for everything from how they look to their college acceptances. Conservatives say it’s not the place of students to speak out, when in reality they just don’t like what we’re saying.

Leslie Gibson, a GOP candidate for the Maine State House, called Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, a “skinhead lesbian” on Twitter. Laura Ingraham, a conservative radio talk show host, mocked David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, for his multiple college rejections. Bill Mitchell, a Republican congressman, also mocked David Hogg, saying, “Central Casting called. They’re looking for a Damien, Children of the Corn, Hitler Youth-type to cast in a flick about an Orwellian future where fear and emotionalism is used to subjugate a free people.”

The sad reality is that we cannot win in this fight against right-wing politicians and spokespeople. When we stand up we are told to sit back down, and when we stay quiet we are called lazy. The only way to truly stand up is to continue our activism and translate it to the ballot box.