For weeks, the Florida teenagers who became activists after the Parkland school shooting have been subjected to harsh treatment by many of those critical of their calls for more gun control.
First, many of the activists were smeared falsely as “crisis actors” by conspiracy theorists and hoaxers on the Internet in the immediate wake of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They continue to be lightning rods for some conservative media and politicians, despite some indications that they enjoy wide support nationally. Now, they are being likened to Nazis.
Memes comparing the Parkland students to Nazis have circulated at the fringes for days, but on Tuesday, they seemed to find a wider audience.
Alex Jones, the conservative host of Infowars known for spreading baseless conspiracy theories, depicted two of the most prominent students, Emma González and David Hogg, in a jarring video that spliced images and videos of them into what appeared to be Nazi footage.
González and other, unnamed, protesters from Saturday’s March for Our Lives, were edited into footage showing young people making Hitler salutes in Nazi Germany.
Jones’s staff also played a Hitler speech over video of Hogg speaking at the march. Jones said the images were meant to communicate the “truly frightening historical iconography that you cannot deny in these parallels of this youth march.”
“Authoritarianism is always about youth marches,” he said.
Mary Franson, a Republican state representative in Minnesota, also appeared to link the student activists with the Hitler Youth, in Facebook posts on Saturday that drew wide condemnation, according to local media reports.
After hundreds of thousands of people had marched in cities around the country, she shared posts critical of the students and their views on gun control that night, including one that quoted another person calling Hogg “Supreme Leader Hogg,” reports said. Then she shared a Hitler quote about how the views of youth in the Nazi movement were formed.
The post was widely seen as a not-so-subtle commentary on the Parkland students. Franson later deleted the post and released a statement saying that she had not intended for the Hitler Youth post to be related to the others.
“I did not intend for one Facebook post about those who are pushing for gun control to be connected to another, separate post I shared from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about ‘Indoctrinating Youth’,” she said in an emailed statement. “I’ve deleted the post to clear up any confusion.”