Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Targeted Again

Photos depicting violence toward the Congresswoman circulated on social media

Since the upset New York election over Rep. Joe Crowley, Representative Alexandria  Ocasio-Cortez has had a major impact on national discourse. From her progressive platform including A Green New Deal, Medicare For All, federal jobs guarantee, and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or her strong social media presence, she has proven that her platform and outreach is a force to be reckoned with.

But this force has not gone unchallenged by the right, and due to a lack of policy, their opposition has yet again resorted to bigotry by their followers.

Case in point: On Aug. 5, seven male students from Lexington Christian Academy posted a photo of themselves wearing “Team Mitch” shirts while inappropriately posing with a cardboard cutout out of  Ocasio-Cortez.

The post caught national attention when Ocasio-Cortez called out Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell in a tweet.

“Hey @senatemajldr — these young men look like they might work for you. Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?”

These students do not work for McConnell or his campaign, but were attendees at Fancy Farm on Aug. 3, the site of an annual Kentucky political event.

One of the photos posted on a student’s Instagram depicts the group posing around a cutout of Ocasio-Cortez with one boy’s hands grabbing her neck.

A second photo shows a student with his arm clutched around her waist while kissing her cheek as the other boys gave a “thumbs down” sign.

This display, proudly posted on social media, is a true indicator of where we are politically.

Ocasio-Cortez has gained massive popularity with her policies and her fearless questioning on the Judiciary Committee. But Republicans resort to degrading attacks and slanderous coverage of the congresswoman on Fox News.

This polarization has done nothing but demonize her and her colleges, and it has given permission for people like the LCA students to behave in threatening and demeaning ways.

According to a study conducted by Media Matters for America, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was mentioned on Fox News and Fox Business at least once per day from Feb. 25 to April 7 for a total of 3,181 mentions in 42 days and for an average of about 75 mentions per day.

Political pundits on these shows have demonized Ocasio-Cortez by using buzzwords like radical and dangerous in an attempt to conjure fear and disdain.

It appears to be working.

The assault on Rep. Ocasio-Cortez from both Fox channels and President’s Trump will only lead to more actions like those displayed by the LCA students.

The seven boys in the photos have faced some repercussions in the media. To what extent they will face actual reprimand is unknown, but we’ve been taught from a young age that actions have consequences.

Everyone should be able to come back from mistakes, but they should hold accountability first. These boys are not victims as some have suggested. The choice to pose in those photos was theirs, and hopefully they’ll learn from this situation and do better next time.

Attacks from the right are bound to happen, but as vile and misogynistic as they are, they cannot be allowed as distractions from real issues.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is changing American politics by fighting for the environment, canceling student debt, and proposing a more fair tax system.

As a public high school student in the same city as the LCA boys in the photos, I can promise you that the right step forward is not mimicking violence toward a United States Congresswoman.

Younger generations need to be active in politics, but our actions must be rational and thoughtful—not hateful. As we enter adulthood, the world is not going to treat our behavior the same as when we were in middle school.

To put it simply, some of us need to grow up before we can participate in politics maturely. Getting involved responsibly takes more than just going to rallies, tweeting opinions and posting on Instagram.

Activism is one of the best ways students can bring change into their communities. Volunteering for local political parties, donating to politicians, and prioritizing local candidates.

Students can also write op-eds, like this one, voicing concerns and pointing out wrongdoings while also suggesting more positive approaches to political discourse.

Change is a process, and working respectfully with one another on these issues will be a lot easier than making enemies.