Misreading the Covington teens in MAGA hats

News reporting is the first draft of history. It needs to be revised when details emerge that give an entirely different picture.

By now, most folks know that a viral video that appeared to show Catholic students mocking an older Native American man after the March for Life on Jan. 18 was a fraud. A longer video shows that the man, Nathan Phillips, had barged into the group of kids and was banging a drum in the face of one of the boys, Nick Sandmann.

Unsure of how to react, Nick merely smiled. The media reported it as a “smirk.” The other boys clapped and chanted along to the drum while ignoring slurs from another group, the Black Hebrew Israelites.

Some of the boys, including Nick, wore red MAGA hats they had purchased in Washington, D.C. That alone made it open season on them. The left has pounded the meme that a Make America Great Again hat is shorthand for hate. And the apostles of tolerance sure know hate. Just let it slip that you don’t think President Trump is such a bad guy or that you think America is a good country and watch the fist of tolerance reflexively clench.

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Last Wednesday, a report commissioned by the diocese of Covington, Kentucky, found no evidence that the boys from Covington Catholic School had behaved badly. Four licensed investigators spent about 240 hours interviewing witnesses and reviewed 50 hours of videos from major networks along with posts on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

You can’t be too careful these days. The left’s non-stop propaganda aimed at fanning grievances has been wildly successful.

On a cautionary note, it’s important to acknowledge America’s history of black slavery and treatment of Native Americans. And, it wasn’t so long ago that Jim Crow laws were in effect and black Americans faced horrendous discrimination. A friend from church recalls when he and his wife were barred from buying a home in certain Fairfax County, Virginia, neighborhoods.

We have come a long way, but still need racial reconciliation. It’s harder to come by when Democrats and their media allies grind salt into those wounds, create new ones, and make sure they stay open and raw. They peddle racial hatred for political purposes while virtue signaling that they’re the enlightened ones.

Many Americans are now so paranoid about appearing insufficiently outraged at any perceived slight over race, sex or gender identity that they go into a crouch or scan the ground for stones to throw.

As such, reactions can be loud, swift and dead wrong.

Within hours of the first video’s posting, Covington Mayor Joe Meyer released a statement, saying in part:

“teens from a local high school were filmed surrounding and mocking native Americans participating in the Indigenous Peoples’ March in Washington D.C. Videos of the confrontation are disturbing, discouraging, and — frankly — appalling. And they are rightfully inspiring a tidal wave of condemnation .”

Mayor Meyer went into full virtue-signaling mode, describing Covington as “a diverse community, in areas of race, national origin, ethnicity, religious preference, sexual orientation, and income,” and a human rights ordinance that protects “diverse gender identities and sexual orientation.” He boasted that he helped lead Northern Kentucky’s gay pride parade, in which city vehicles were used and “department heads marched with a banner proudly proclaiming our beliefs.” Wonder if any department heads were allowed to sit it out?

Four days later, the mayor issued another release, proclaiming, “If you read my actual words Saturday it’s clear that condemning was not the motivation, my motivation was simple — Covington’s reputation was being attacked on a national level and I stood up to defend it.” So, applauding a “tidal wave of condemnation,” was what, exactly?

Other Democrats also had swiftly joined the frenzy. New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, a Native American, tweeted:

“The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking.”

Even the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School first released a statement, extending “our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips” and promising to investigate and “take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

Did anyone talk to the boys before issuing this?

On the other side of the ledger, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Thomas Massie, both Republicans from Kentucky, expressed support for the students. In a Jan. 21 tweet, Mr. Paul cited a Reason article correcting the record, noting that “these kids are taking all sorts of abuse they don’t deserve.”

Mr. Massie tweeted:

“The honorable and tolerant students of Covington Catholic School came to DC to advocate for the unborn and to learn about our nation’s Capitol. What they got was a brutal lesson in the unjust court of public opinion and social media mobs.”

And lots of virtue signaling from all quarters.

  • Robert Knight is a contributor to The Washington Times.

As seen here at The Washington Times. Posted here with permission of author.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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Robert Knight, a former news editor and writer for the Los Angeles Times and former Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is an author, speaker and columnist. He has written or co-authored six books and has appeared on virtually all major network and cable TV and radio news programs.

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