While you’ve most likely heard of the February 14, 2018 Parkland school shooting, where a deranged man murdered 17 students and faculty (and wounded 17 others) at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, you’re probably not aware of the entirely preventable chain of events that led up to it. If just one person with any authority had done one thing properly, this horror could have been avoided. I know this because I read Andrew Pollack and Max Eden’s Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students.
Outside of this book, it’s impossible to fully describe how everything went so wrong, from the disgustingly negligent school board to the terrible policies that provided cover for murderer Nikolas Cruz (referred to by criminal case number 18-1958 in the book). The Broward County school district administrators, as worthless a collection of reprobates as you’ll ever read about, were focused on a social justice platform that minimized academics and safety in favor of feel-good progressivism, and children were murdered as a result. This was not only a failure of the public education system, but of law enforcement and local government, showing exactly what happens when politicians are given free rein without accountability. This quote from the book encapsulates the social justice agenda perfectly:
Arielle later lamented to us that school administrators “would freak out if somebody called me a dyke or something, but they didn’t care when [18-1958] threatened to kill my friends.”
Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was murdered while trying to save another, younger girl, spares no one in his search for answers, and his agony leaps off the page. This take-no-prisoners approach includes some hard truths about David Hogg, who became an anti-gun activist and celebrity because he attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD). In the aftermath of the shooting, Pollack and some of the other MSD parents worked hard to get Richard Mendelson, best friend of shooting victim Aaron Feis, elected to the Broward County school board. By then, David Hogg had achieved some notoriety, and it would have helped Mendelson’s campaign to get a Tweet or some kind of endorsement from Hogg. This is what happened:
Hunter [Meadow’s brother] insisted that David [Hogg] at least get on the phone with Rich Mendelson.
David practically shouted at Hunter, “I’ve met with your candidate three times!”
“No, David,” Hunter said. “You met Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter Alaina. We’re talking about Rich Mendelson, who lost his best friend Aaron. Have you been following any of this?”
Hogg doesn’t come off well, and for good reason.
The police screwed up. The school screwed up. The administrators screwed up. Everyone screwed up in the worst ways possible at all times. Whenever there was an opportunity to do one thing right, everyone involved took the opposite approach. It’s maddening to read about (and incalculably worse to experience).
Why Meadow Died isn’t about guns. It’s about an appalling level of corruption that, if left unchecked, will completely corrode an already ailing public education system. It’s bitter, searing, frustrating, and one of the most important books you’ll ever read.