Several hours after the news broke about the Florida school shooting, the Trump family took to social media to express their condolences. Like many others online, Ivanka Trump tweeted “Praying for the innocent lives lost, their families and the Parkland, Florida community in the wake of today’s unspeakable tragedy.” Her dad echoed the “thoughts and prayers” sentiment and added that he was in contact with Florida’s governor Rick Scott and that the White House was working closely with local law enforcement.
On February 14th, 2018 an armed gunman believed to be 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, ultimately killing 17 people. He fled the scene by disguising himself among the students evacuating but was arrested in a neighboring community. In the wake of the tragedy, it’s been revealed that Cruz had a disturbing social media presence, including once writing “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” on a YouTube video. His comment was sent to the FBI, but they reportedly could not identify him from the account. His former classmates also remarked that they are unsurprised that he would do something like this, with one student telling CBS Miami, “He always seemed like the unstable type, the type who would do this sort of thing.”
In the aftermath, considering the history and obvious concerns about the gunman, many continue to be frustrated by “thoughts and prayers” tweets like the ones from Ivanka and the president.
As expected, Ivanka’s tweet was met with internet vitriol.
The Florida massacre is the eighteenth school shooting in 2018, and while “thoughts and prayers” are a nice sentiment, the phrase is ultimately meaningless and continues to lose its value with every mass shooting. We don’t elect policy makers and politicians for prayers. At this time, more than ever, we need policy and action.