Today’s object lesson on media narrative crafting comes to us from Kyle Kashuv, one of the students who survived the Parkland massacre on Valentine’s Day. Kashuv has thoughts on preventing such massacres in the future, much like his more famous classmates who regularly find their way onto national media platforms. Kashuv, however, has barely gleaned a mention. My Townhall colleague Guy Benson traveled to Florida to meet with the 16-year-old student (with permission from his parents for the interview) and to find out more about Kashuv’s perspective — and why national media outlets seem uninterested in it.
Kashuv thinks it might be his dispassionate approach to the topic, but feels his support of the Second Amendment is most likely the problem:
I ask him why he thinks that’s the case. “I don’t know,” he says, hesitantly. “Maybe because I don’t use inflammatory language. I speak calmly and logically without much emotion. I don’t necessarily make the very best headline.” He’s politely referring to some of his more “famous” peers’ propensity to launch provocative and partisan attacks, such as repeated assertions that people who disagree with their political or policy preferences “don’t care” about dead children, or have ‘blood on their hands.’ But Kashuv knows that the disparate treatment he’s lived isn’t merely attributable to stylistic differences; he’s convinced that the substance of his views is what has diminished his appeal to many activists and journalists.
“I’m a very strong Second Amendment supporter and I will continue to be throughout this entire campaign.” he tells me. “As of right now, my main goal is to meet with legislators and represent to them that there are big Second Amendment supporters in our community. Through this entire thing, my number one concern has been making sure that the rights of innocent Americans aren’t infringed upon.” He says that when he visited the state capitol to talk to lawmakers shortly after the tragedy, he consistently asked for guarantees that the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners wouldn’t be attacked or abridged. He’s waded into this debate “kind of reluctantly,” he admits, observing that at some point he realized that he was one of the few conservatives in his school who were speaking up in public. “It’s not even by my choosing, it’s just come to that,” he remarks. “I feel somewhat obligated to do this because the other half of America needs to be heard. I’m doing this because I have to.”
Kashuv counts himself as a believer in the ‘Never Again’ cause, but feels ostracized and ignored by those — including students and the adults supporting them — who disagree with his conservative politics. “It’s quite saddening because I support this Never Again movement in some aspects. Everything that isn’t for gun control, I fully support. But a lot of people in the movement, they view it as ‘you’re with us or you’re against us.’ There’s no middle ground. So either you support them on all of their policy ideas, or you’re an enemy. That’s sad because I really do love this movement, and I want it to do a lot of good work. But simply because I have a different opinion on what needs to be done [on guns], I’m not represented as a leading member.”
Guy’s interview reveals Kashuv to be a careful thinker and cautious, even reluctant, advocate. He tells Guy that he’s been asked to create an organization to “represent the conservative point of view in the debate,” but he’d rather be free to pursue his own perspective. Kashuv believes that “there is a middle ground” on policies for prevention of future school shootings, one that doesn’t infringe on the rights of innocent people. We won’t get there, Kashuv tells Guy, unless “we stop using inflammatory language … we don’t call the person the enemy.”
Contrast that with the students that media outlets choose to make into stars:
Parkland student: 2nd Amendment “is a great defense that I’ve seen a lot. Because they put it as if you’re attacking a right that they’re born with.”
Bill Maher: “It is, if you’re an American.”https://t.co/wMpOXMriAu
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) March 3, 2018
In fact, the reason why the Bill of Rights exists is to protect “unalienable rights” that spring from the recognition that all men are created equal, with equal dignity. That literally means that the Constitution exists to protect the natural rights that all people are “born with,” including the right to an effective self-defense. It’s likely that Kashuv could explain that effectively if given the opportunity for engagement, although give Bill Maher credit for stepping up in this instance.
Kashuv has become an advocate for safer schools. He and some partners are working on a new app called School Guardians, which will coordinate volunteers willing to maintain security at American schools. He wants to sit down with Donald Trump to discuss it. Hopefully, the White House will give him the opportunity to do so, but on Kashuv’s terms. Let’s hope the voices for positive and intelligent engagement prevail.
Update: Sarah Rumpf interviews a parent of one of the murdered children who also wants a middle ground rather than fight over gun control:
This is Alaina Petty. She was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS last month. She was only 14.
— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) March 5, 2018
Be sure to read both in their entirety.