The Shakerite

Something New Under America’s Political Sun

Guest 'Riter Christopher Cotton urges students to take advantage of a unique political opportunity

Students+at+Tamalpais+High+School+in+California+held+a+vigil+on+Feb.+15%2C+2018%2C+writing+%22Students+for+Parkland%22+on+the+sidewalk+in+support+of+victims.+
Students at Tamalpais High School in California held a vigil on Feb. 15, 2018, writing

Students at Tamalpais High School in California held a vigil on Feb. 15, 2018, writing "Students for Parkland" on the sidewalk in support of victims.

Wikimedia

Wikimedia

Students at Tamalpais High School in California held a vigil on Feb. 15, 2018, writing "Students for Parkland" on the sidewalk in support of victims.

Advertisement

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The pattern of responses to school shootings is maddeningly familiar: carnage, thoughts and prayers, too soon to talk, don’t politicize, stalling, relegating, forgetting. People who support some sort of common-sense gun restrictions —  the vast majority of Americans —  have been driven to near-insanity by the impotence of our legislators. We thought Columbine might force a change. We were sure that Sandy Hook, with its young victims, would be the tipping point. But America fell into the same pattern.

Now there is something new under the sun.

What’s new is: YOU.

We adults have utterly failed to budge Washington’s inertia. But you students have a unique moral authority on this issue. You are the ones who pay the price. You are the ones who have to live or die with the results of Congress’ prostration to the gun lobby. As we have seen with news footage and viral videos, when teenagers speak up on this issue they cannot be shouted down. They have a clarity and authority that utterly dissipates the smog that befouls our political discourse.

You are the ones who have to live or die with the results of Congress’ prostration to the gun lobby.”

I’ve seen legislators hamstrung by that mantra, “It’s too soon to talk about gun restrictions.” I’ve never heard an effective response; the argument has taken on the force of self-evident truth. But now I’ve seen a teenager pop that balloon with a single piece of common sense: “It’s not too soon. It’s too late.” And that once-unassailable argument evaporates. It was a sham all along. Likewise for another gun-lobby mantra, “We shouldn’t politicize it.” The students respond: “Please, politicize it!” Politicizing is what politicians are supposed to do. It turns out the NRA was using pop-guns all along. It just took some grieving and pissed-off teenagers to point it out to us.

As for our role — the role of teachers, administrators, and adults in general — our role, as I see it, is to get out of your way. You can be this change you want to see in the world. This new power is available only to you. If this movement is co-opted by adults, however well-meaning, it will lose its moral force.

Sometimes it takes something completely new and unexpected to find a door that no one knew was there. You found it. Open it. Lead us through.

 

Christopher Cotton is an English teacher at the high school. He has written for the Huffington Post on issues such as the academic opportunity gap and education legislation.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comment using your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail account

comments

1 Comment

One Response to “Something New Under America’s Political Sun”

  1. Tiana on March 8th, 2018 1:22 pm

    It shouldnt take 17 innocent lives for people to realize or speak up about gun laws. I feel like all schools should have metal detectors not just the ones in bad neighborhoods. How can you even walk into a store and purchase a gun without any background checks or tests to pass, thats asking for bad things to happen in society. The fact that a mentally unstable kid was able to buy guns and have several other weapons is mind bottling, why wasnt anything done previous years? 17 lives could’ve been saved.

    [Reply]

Comment above using your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail account. If you don't have an account with any of these websites, you can comment below with your full name and a valid email address.




*

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Something New Under America’s Political Sun

    OPINION

    If I Die in a School Shooting

  • Something New Under America’s Political Sun

    OPINION

    Living on the Edge

  • Something New Under America’s Political Sun

    OPINION

    ‘Rite Idea: Vote NO on Issue 7

  • Something New Under America’s Political Sun

    OPINION

    Shaker Library’s 1.9 Mill Levy Encounters Resistance

  • Something New Under America’s Political Sun

    OPINION

    Why High School Dating Sucks

  • Something New Under America’s Political Sun

    OPINION

    Students Are Talking: Is Anyone Listening?

  • Something New Under America’s Political Sun

    OPINION

    Yesterday, We Wore Black

  • Something New Under America’s Political Sun

    OPINION

    ‘Rite Idea: Tell Us Why and We’ll Comply

  • Something New Under America’s Political Sun

    OPINION

    If We’re Lucky, Loud or Oprah, They Just Might Respond

  • Something New Under America’s Political Sun

    OPINION

    Be Safe, Be Respectful and Sweep Problems Under The Rug

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization
Something New Under America’s Political Sun