An Open Letter to High School Students of America
As an America more than five times your age, I come to you with some advice and I urge you to listen. In my life, I was opposed to the Vietnam war. My friends and fellow students were being sent 7,400 miles to fight a war we hardly understood. Some of my friends were killed. It was obvious that my government didn’t understand what we felt. History has revealed the lies and illegal actions of the “adults” running the United States of America during that dark time. It was a bi-partisan effort to kill us.
You have been awakened by a demonic tragedy and the misuse of a lethal weapon. You are joining hands and marching and chanting. You want to make a difference. We are with you. We care about you. We cry for you. We will march with you. We understand what you are saying. Wisdom of the past will help you. Learn about civil disobedience and your right to peacefully assemble. This isn’t going to be easy.
To end the Vietnam war, we had to expose the lies. We needed help from the free press and, in some cases, brave whistle-blowers with valuable documents like the Pentagon Papers. Google it. We had to see blood being spilled on the nightly news and middle America had to understand that these were “our boys” who were bleeding in the jungles. Your classroom floors will be cleaned, but you will never forget the terror you experienced. You need to bring that horror to the public. They need to understand what happened. As macabre and disrespectful as some might think, pictures of bloody bodies would make Congress wake up and start talking about solutions.
Next, I want you to know that the NRA and pro-gun factions in this great nation of ours will see you as the enemy. They will come after you and they will attack you. They won’t be using guns; they will be using propaganda. They will do research on you and your parents, and they will disclose connections to anything that even hints at “left-wing radical” associations. They will claim that you are being funded by Democratic Super PACs and you will hear the name George Soros. Do not listen to these talking heads on TV. They are not your friends. They will be attacking your cause célèbre and the fact that you have a platform; you have a voice. Do not get sucked into their nonsense.
If you start to make inroads in your quest to get gun regulations, they will attack you on very personal levels. They will circulate rumors about your sex life, they will put you on an enemy list, they will infiltrate your schools and try to get other students to rally against you. It’s an old playbook and I am simply reading a few pages from it. You will hear the term, “outside agitators,” which is code for linking you to some communist left-winged group. Do not stray from your message.
The NRA is a very powerful lobbyist group and they will pour money into defeating you. Be careful when they say they want to meet with you. And be extremely on guard when it comes to Donald Trump. He will tell you he is open to review and modification of the gun laws. He will suggest that he is “evolving” on the issue. He will even issue a memo to his Attorney General to “look into” whether “bump stocks” are legal, while he uses executive order to push almost a million dreamers to the edge of panic. He waited four and half months after the Las Vegas shooting to write his memo. Score a D- for him.
In the end, Trump will listen to the gun hawks and will walk away from you when the story dies. He already left behind the dead bodies in Las Vegas, Texas and the other killing fields. Donald Trump is not your friend. He will use you to placate moderate Republicans. Donald Trump is not an inadequate President, he’s an inadequate person.
You need to learn the terms of the Second Amendment and their importance to the far right in America. They will continue to let you die to save this sentence: A well -regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Now let’s talk about the March 24, 2018 march on Washington you are planning. Get as many people as you can to attend this event and don’t worry about who will promote it. You know how to use the internet and social media to motivate people. Do it! You also need to think about giving marchers advice on where to stay and how to get around once there. Get the National Park people to help you. That’s their job. They did it for Martin Luther King, Jr. and they did it for the Million Man March and they did it for right wing groups. They are there for you. And be sure to read up on other rallies and protests in the Capitol, here.
And finally, you must continually state your goal. You must be extremely clear in what you are demanding. An 18-year-old kid can’t buy a beer or a hand-gun but can buy an AR-15 (semi-automatic rifle) and you must change the laws. You must not waiver. If we got Nixon to end the Vietnam War, you surely can motivate a bunch of old white guys to listen. If they don’t, vote them out. Just stay the course, there will be many of them to vote out.
Dwight C. Douglas
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