Is President Donald Trump being political with the families of individuals who died in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting earlier this year?
According to a recent report from BuzzFeed News, Trump has not made contact with many of the families whose children were victims in the high school shooting. Indeed, the only confirmed contact made by Trump with any of the families involved him talking directly to a vocal supporter of his political initiatives.
BuzzFeed was able to contact nine of the 17 families of children and administrators who died at the hands of a school shooter in February. Of those nine families, eight say that they had not been contacted by Trump. One family has, twice, and the circumstances of their meetings seem very circumspect.
Meadow Pollack, 18, was among the schoolchildren killed. Her father, Andrew Pollack, said that he has spoken with the president on a couple of occasions, once before a listening session on school safety took place at the White House, and once again before another meeting on the subject weeks later.
Pollack and his family also received a letter of condolences and thanks for attending the events.
Thank you @realDonaldTrump for opening the Whitehouse to my family with open arms . Was great talking about my sisters beauty , and school security with you . Thank you Mr. President . pic.twitter.com/HT51tSSUJw— Hunter Pollack (@PollackHunter) March 26, 2018
The Pollacks happen to be supportive of the idea to arm school teachers and other administrators with guns, a proposal Trump also backs.
Meanwhile, other families haven’t heard anything from Trump. Debra Hixon, wife to Chris Dixon, a teacher at the school who died attempting to disarm shooter Nikolas Cruz, said the White House hasn’t been in contact with her at all.
“I expected maybe a note or something,” Dixon said. “I feel like he picked and chose maybe based on what we said.”
She was further confused by the president’s decision not to contact her because Chris Dixon’s politics actually match Trump’s.
“My husband loved [Trump],” Dixon added. “I think he would have been disappointed that he didn’t reach out to us.”
Dixon elaborated further, saying it was “really s----y” that Trump didn’t reach out to her or her family.
“A human thing to do is to reach out to everyone. If you reach out to one family you should reach out to all of us,” she said.
Another family is similarly outraged. Linda Beigel Schulman and Michael Schulman, whose son Scott Beigel taught at the school, said they received a note from the president — just not the current one in office. Rather, former President Barack Obama reached out to them and sent a consolatory message.
Michael Schulman lamented that while Trump seemed to have time to congratulate Roseanne Barr for the successful revival of her titular show, the president didn’t seem to care about speaking to them, even in private.
“[W]hen it comes to consoling or helping, or even reaching out to victims, or people who are assisting victims, he has nothing to say,” Michael Schulman said.
There are many families who have been critical of the Trump administration for their positions on gun ownership in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Those criticisms, however much Trump doesn’t like them, do not warrant the president ignoring their losses.
Presidents have traditionally not played politics with grieving families. Even former President George W. Bush allowed families to berate him after their sons or daughters returned dead or injured from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Trump is a different sort of president, unwilling to make time for families who lost loved ones in a massive school shooting if it doesn’t suit his political needs. The world needs to take note of this stark difference between the current president and past ones.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Yuri Gripas/Reuters