The Public Record: Jack Kingston says Parkland students are being ‘hijacked’ by ‘left-wing groups’

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The Players: Former Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston, who lost his recent senate bid, appeared on CNN Tuesday morning and claimed that Parkland High School students who were organizing protests for gun control were being manipulated by anti-gun liberals.

The Quote: This is not the first time Kingston has made this claim in recent days. In addition to his comments on CNN, he also sent out a tweet on Sunday specifically naming George Soros as the culprit behind the protest efforts. He was asked during his CNN appearance to clarify his tweet. Here is the quote from his CNN appearance:

“I think it’s a horrible tragedy, and I am heartbroken that young people have gone through this, and I hope that it never happens again, But I also know that their sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda. Let’s ask ourselves do we really think 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally? I would say to you very plainly that organized groups that are out there like George Soros are always ready to take up the charge, and it’s kind of like instant rally, instant protest and those groups are ready to take it — take it to the streets.” -Jack Kingston

The Video: The above quote has everyone talking, and we’ll delve into that shortly, but for those who are interested, here is the entire 11 minute clip of Kingston’s appearance. He is appearing on CNN with fellow Republican David Jolly, who disagrees with him.

The Tweet: And here is the tweet that started it all:

Why It Matters: Kingston is making a strong accusation that these students who witnessed the mass-murder of their classmates have somehow become political pawns rather than legitimate voices in the debate over gun violence in America. He also implies that due to their age, they can’t have a legitimate view point that lawmakers should take into consideration. Kingston is not currently serving in an elected position, however he does serve as the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party Foundation, so if you are a republican in Georgia, Kingston still represents you in some way. Also, when he comments on cable television, he is representing the republican party and the state as a whole. His sentiments matter because they paint a picture of how you as a voter in Georgia feel about this issue. Whether you agree with him or not, this quote and the reaction it is receiving is important because he is representing this state to the rest of the country.

If He’s Right: If Kingston is right and these students have been coaxed by left-wing gun control advocates into saying “enough is enough” and visiting lawmakers in protest, it means there are political operatives who are preying on children who just witnessed a tragedy. However, Kingston did not present any evidence of this and so far, there has not been credible evidence that the students are acting outside their own interests.

If He’s Wrong: If Kingston is wrong, he is planting seeds of doubt into the legitimacy of young Americans to express their opinions. He is also feeding the narrative of the sort of conspiracy theorists who firmly believe that the Sandy Hook shooting didn’t actually happen. The Internet is already crawling with these types, who are claiming the teens in Parkland are paid “crisis actors,” and calling the shooting a “false flag.” That type of absurdity is expected from Internet trolls and followers of Alex Jones, but a former Congressman stoking those fires could further minimize a major tragedy that has occurred in these children’s lives and is in fact adding leverage to those who will eventually seek to deny the reality of the shooting.

What The Students Are Saying: The survivors of the mass shooting said they have not been hijacked, with one calling Kingston’s marks “absurd” and “despicable,” and another pointing out that the students at Parkland came from an affluent area where they could take action on their own to do what they can to prevent more school shootings.