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Conservatism Politics Roger Kimball US Politics

Radical evil, and the online lynching of a kid from Kentucky

Will journalists apologize if their portrayal of the Covington students vs Indian Elder incident turns out to have been wildly wrong?

January 20, 2019

10:32 AM

20 January 2019

10:32 AM

I have bad news for you. Somewhere in the this country, right now, teenage boys are acting like jerks.

Yes, it’s true. Some are taunting their little sisters. Others are picking on a funny looking kid in their class. Still others are grandstanding for the benefit of the cute girl who happens to be part of their clique.

It’s not new. Mitt Romney, the Grecian-formula candidate, was bullied by The New York Times and other subsidiaries of the Democratic party for bullying a kid in high school who, the Times reported, later turned out to be gay. Fine doubled, Mr Romney: you should have known.

The episode might have sunk Romney’s Presidential bid but, with the customary bureaucratic efficiency of the 53 percent, he saw to that himself.

Now we have the truly outrageous, horrible story of what Kant called radical evil. A white, male, Catholic teen who had been to the pro-life march and was wearing a MAGA hat smirked at an Indian Elder who was beating a drum in his face while clad in Native garb (but white Western eyeglasses). It took place near the Lincoln Memorial Friday just after the pro-life March.

Videos of the horrible event went viral. Here’s one. The Washington Post, natch, made it all about President Trump. The episode, they skirled, ‘has heaped fuel on a long-running, intense argument among abortion opponents as to whether the close affiliation of many antiabortion leaders with President Trump since he took office has led to moral decay that harms the movement.’

Huh?

Meanwhile, the boy’s high school has issued a statement of apology to the Indian Elder, Nathan Phillips, and to ‘Native Americans in general,’ whatever that means.

So far, the smirking teen has not been identified. Doubtless he will be. And he is in big trouble. If the Twitter Mob had its way, he’d already have been lynched and had had his MAGA hat stuffed down his throat. His high school is ‘investigating’ the incident and promises to take ‘appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.’

Expulsion? To listen to some of the wailing, that would be too good for the kid. He should have his life ruined. He should be sent, like Captain Dreyfus, to Devil’s Island for a life of penal servitude.

I know that, of all human passions, the passion of moral self-righteousness is the most delicious. The problem is, the people who are the objects of our indignation often present a more complicated reality than we first assume.

Take this MAGA-hat wearing teen. He is presented as taunting the Indian Elder. Just look at the video. But wait. A classmate has written to a local television station to give his side of the story, which is sharply at odds with the white-boy-bad version burning up the internet. And another video, as Daniel McCarthy points out, shows the activists taunting the kids.

According to The Narrative, it was the teen who approached Phillips. But according to the letter writer, the high schoolers were, as was their wont after the March for Life, gathered together cheering. ‘In the midst of our cheers,’ he writes, ‘we were approached by a group of adults led by Nathan Phillips, with Phillips beating his drum.’

‘They forced their way into the center of our group. We initially thought this was a cultural display since he was beating along to our cheers and so we clapped to the beat. However, after multiple minutes of Mr Phillips beating his drum directly in the face of my friend . . . we became confused and started wondering what was happening. It was not until later that we discovered they would incriminate us as a publicity stunt. As a result, my friend faces expulsion for simply standing still and our entire school is being disparaged for a crime we did not commit.’

Uh oh, a wrinkle, a tear in The Narrative. And the tear gets bigger. According to press accounts, some of the students verbally abused the Indian, some chanted ‘build the wall.’ I saw neither in the clip I watched. And according to the letter writer, ‘we did not partake in any physical or verbal abuse, did not chant ‘build the wall’ or mock or anything of the like.’

Indeed, the moccasin was on the other foot. ‘After the initial occurrence,’ the letter writer says, they were ‘verbally assaulted by four or five African-American men who called us “faggots”  and berated one of our African-American students for being friends with us.’ Video evidence appears to back up his various assertions.

The student letter writer claims that Phillips ‘has a history of claiming racial harassment.’ I have not been able to ascertain that, but the student is right ‘a great injustice has been done.’ It would be nice if the media were to right that wrong. I am not holding my breath.


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