Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King’s campaign teamÂ mocked the “look” of Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez in a meme published to King’s official Facebook page Sunday, drawing criticism from shooting survivors.
It’s part of a wave of recent attempts to discredit Gonzalez and other survivors as they call for legislation to address gun violence.Â
The item includes anÂ image of Gonzalez with tears streaming down her face at Saturday’s March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.,Â as she recalled the 17 lives lost at her school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla. The accompanying text criticizes Gonzalez’ Cuban heritage, seeming to reference the Cuban flag patch seen on her sleeve.Â
“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 post says.
Gonzalez’s father fled Fidel Castro’s Cuban regime by moving to New York in 1968, according to a Univision profile. Gonzalez does not speak Spanish, according to the profile.
Criticism of King’s post came quickly, with his social media managers relentlessly defending the post.
â€œAre you SERIOUSLY mocking a school shooting survivor for her ethnic identity?!â€ wrote Brandon Wolf, a survivor of Orlando’sÂ Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016. â€œWhen it was my community, where were you? When it was Sandy Hook? Columbine?”
“Only a brainwashed Lefty could possibly look at this meme and deduce there’s racial prejudice,” said KingÂ in a post signedÂ “Team King.”Â
David Hogg, another Parkland survivor and activist, asked his senator, Republican Marco Rubio, to address King on Twitter. “Hey @marcorubio @Emma4Change s family fled Cuba to escape totalitarianism and live in freedom just like your family could you please respond to @SteveKingIA,” he wrote.
King made a name for himself criticizing immigrants.Â He’s argued,Â “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” and questioned whether non-whites added anything to civilization. He’s been praised by former KKK leader David Duke, toasted an immigrant’s deportation and displayedÂ a Confederate flag on his desk, despite being a native Iowan representing aÂ state that remained in the Union during the Civil War.
Gonzalez became the face of the student-led movement against gun violence after an impassioned speech last month, and has since faced attempts to discredit her from both anonymous social media accounts and Republican politicians. One GOP candidate in Maine called her a “skinhead lesbian” (she identifies as bisexual), while a doctored image spread online showed Gonzalez apparently tearing the Constitution (she tore a gun target for aÂ Teen VogueÂ shoot).Â