Monday evening we read the comments of many Montgomery-area Facebook users who unleashed a torrent of vile, misguided and utterly disgusting sentiments directed at young people who had organized and lead a symbolic demonstration at Montgomery Regional Airport. The demonstration was in opposition to President Trump's executive order banning travel from seven nations in the Middle East and indefinitely barring refugees from Syria from entering the United States.
What troubled us most is that the target of the comments, which ranged from insults like "retard" to even accusing the participants of being aimless, unemployed and/or recipients of "government handouts," were in fact high-achieving students from the educational gem LAMP (Loveless Academic Magnet Program), home of some of Montgomery's best and brightest young people. Perhaps those hurling insults online were intimidated by these young people, and we were just witnessing their crippling insecurities bubbling up online.
But for all the heat generated by debating matters of public policy and politics, there is never an excuse for any side of an issue to target children with bullying tactics, insults and unfair negative stereotypes. Level-headed citizens with at least an ounce of class should be capable of applauding these students for their activism, their willingness to engage in public affairs, and their bravery to stand up in the face of such venomous, hostile opposition, even if they didn't agree with the students' position on the matter. The event was successful with no reports of illegal activity. There were no physical altercations. And ultimately these young leaders were able to turn out a crowd of about 200 participants.
We commend these young people - our future leaders - for being active, engaged, bold citizens. We condemn the detractors who have resorted to cowardly, tacky name-calling, insults and a level of maturity that is far less than those whom they targeted. These young people should be viewed as an example of good citizenship, not derided as misfits by adults hiding behind computer monitors and smart phones.
It is our hope that the student leaders who organized this event will remain active, informed, passionate and engaged and that they will continue to stay active in matters of public policy. We should encourage our young people to be involved citizens, not belittle or insult them.
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