Rep. Steve King (R-IA) spent the majority of his weekend mocking March For Our Lives protesters.
On Sunday afternoon, King specifically attacked 18-year-old Parkland survivor and student activist Emma Gonzalez, sharing an image of the teen holding back tears as she relived her trauma before a crowd of nearly 800,000 Saturday.
“This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self defense,” the text accompanying Gonzalez’s photo read.
The Facebook post muddles and misinterprets what the Parkland survivors have advocated for ever since the deadly shooting last month. Gonzalez and her peers aren’t calling for “removing all weapons,” contrary to what Republican politicians would like to believe. They are calling for common sense gun policies, like universal background checks and raising the age limit to buy an assault rifle. At the most, some student activists are calling on Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban, which was in effect in the United States from 1994 to 2004.
The post also attacks Gonzalez for ethnicity. But she isn’t “claiming” her Cuban heritage; her father was born in Cuba and it is a very real part of her identity. Suggesting that Gonzalez can’t claim her heritage because she “doesn’t speak Spanish,” is a hurtful stereotype of most second-generation Americans who weren’t taught their parents language in order to assimilate better to the dominant culture.
When reached for comment by reporters, the King campaign told the Washington Post that the congressman himself doesn’t manage his Facebook page and that the “meme in question obviously isn’t an attack on her ‘heritage’ in any way, it merely points out the irony of someone pushing gun control while wearing the flag of a country that was oppressed by a communist, anti-gun regime. Pretty simple, really.”
Other conservative commentators, however, have fixated on the Cuban flag patch Gonzalez wore during her speech Saturday.
— Andrew Wilkow (@WilkowMajority) March 25, 2018
“Emma Gonzales, [sic] wearing the flag of an authoritarian communist nation. Makes sense, they both hate an armed citizenry,” one meme shared on Reddit’s conservative page r/TheDonald reads.
Gonzalez, along with her classmates, have been the targets of pro-gun commentators for over a month now.
Most recently, an image of Gonzalez tearing a shooting target was doctored to make it appear as though she was “shredding” the Constitution.
Justy a sample of what NRA supporters are doing to teenagers who survived a massacre (real picture on the right). pic.twitter.com/czX7IHD8ur
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) March 25, 2018
The image was picked up by alt-right social media sites like Gab.
Not gonna happen. pic.twitter.com/4kKBcSqdCl
— Gab: Free Speech Social Network (@getongab) March 24, 2018
The image appeared to have originated on 4chan and eventually shared by prominent conservative commentators who claim the image is just “political satire.”