This Covington Catholic/MAGA Teens video was such a perfect storm for Liberal Outrage. It had everything… Young men, privileged and white, wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats, in D.C. on a “field trip” to the “March For Life,” in front of the Lincoln Memorial, on MLK weekend, during the Indigenous Peoples March, openly mocking Nathan Phillips, an Elder from the Omaha Tribe who was playing his drum and singing a prayer during a confrontation between the MAGA Teens and a small fringe group known as Black Hebrew Israelites. And an abbreviated video emerges of a smirking white face, staring down an old Native American man, and it bought up the still fresh trauma of another smirking face of white privilege…
… and many people lost. Their damn. Minds. They wanted this kid’s NAME, they wanted his ADDRESS, they wanted his future RUINED, they wanted BLOOD.
Then, as people viewed longer videos of the confrontation, the picture of what happened became a little more nuanced. There was name-calling by some of the members of the Black Hebrew Israelites. Mr. Phillips approached the boys instead of the boys approaching the man. And just as immediately as the outrage started on the left, the political right was FURIOUS over the mischaracterization by the “main stream media.” “PROOF OF MORE FAKE NEWS!” they yelled. But really, it wasn’t the MSM that was propelling the story. It was Social Media doing what Social Media DOES: Making a perfect storm of outrage go instantly viral.
And for most people, that is where things ended. Very few people have the time or patience to view close to two hours of unedited footage to see how things actually went down… So what most of us do is decide that the point of view we had before is STILL RIGHT. People who needed there to be a reason why these good, white, Catholic boys would act that way GOT their reason (conveniently enough, there were some black guys to blame)… And just like Trump defending the “very fine” Tiki Torch-carrying nazis in Charlottesville, they start talking about “BOTH SIDES,” and “Whatabout Antifa?!?” Meanwhile, the folks who needed these smug little shits to be the Devil Himself stayed furious… Until their (admittedly, sometimes OUR) next outrage fix comes in.
But the fact that there was more to the story doesn’t mean that the young men from the all-male Covington Catholic weren’t TERRIBLY in the wrong. The REAL story isn’t the behavior of these wound up boys on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The REAL story is the CULTURE in which they were raised… A culture which allows and encourages actions like THIS:
A culture which allows and encourages kids at the National Mall to do something like THIS:
A culture which stands by while the kids you are in charge do THIS to very old Native American man playing a drum:
A culture which produces boys who harass and scream “MAGA” at girls passing by (well before there was any confrontation with the BHI or Mr. Phillips):
And a culture that wants the world to see these young men as “victims” in this situation after one of them yelled out, “IT’S NOT RAPE IF YOU ENJOY IT!”
If these young men are “victims” of anything, they are victims of a CULTURAL FAILURE.
The REAL story is not one about some smirking teenager in a MAGA hat… It is about the CULTURE which raises so many boys to be the sort of people who want to wear a MAGA hat. It’s about the CULTURE which leaves so many young men blind to the inherent racism behind that slogan and that stupid red hat. It’s about the CULTURE that protects its white boys at all costs (including hiring a PR Firm to pen and release the kid’s statement… A PR Firm with HEAVY republican ties, and co-founded by Mitch McConnell’s former aide), while apparently not noticing that when black and brown boys get shot and killed, those same people say “I’m not racist” while looking for justification for the death… Like a young person acting foolishly, or marijuana use. HOW MANY OF THOSE BOYS FROM THAT SCHOOL DO YOU THINK WOULD FAIL A POT SCREENING?
And the REAL, real story is how SO MANY of these private and religious schools appeared (coincidentally) right after school desegregation became the law of the land… Born of a desire to provide an educational environment for their white kids which did NOT include People Of Color… And born a VERY SHORT TIME AGO in our nation’s very racist history.
Yes, we shouldn’t be watching a 30 second video clip and decide that some kid’s life needs to get destroyed. But if the “lesson” you learned from this disturbing video is that “both sides” are to blame, you are getting it SO wrong. There is almost always MORE TO THE STORY, but this does NOT mean that “both sides” were right, and “both sides” were wrong, and we can “never know which is which.” We can look at this event and learn from it, and we can get closer to the truth.
Instead, people will use this example of an Outrage Avalanche as a “proof” that we need to be more open-minded… As if “open-mindedness” is an absolute moral good, and as if drawing conclusions about something is an act of hubris. They’ll look at this debacle and claim that “division” is the enemy… But some things SHOULD divide us. Unity is not the goal. JUSTICE is the goal. Morality is the goal. Truth, Equality, Goodness, Compassion. There is a name for “unity” that comes at the expense of Justice and Morality and Truth… It’s called TYRANNY. It’s called despotism and totalitarianism and fascism. It’s called injustice.
They’ll tell you that “Everyone has a right to their own opinion,” and “BOTH SIDES” are a little right and a little wrong. They’ll act like the problem is “Tribalism.” They’ll act like the problem is “Taking Sides.” But the problem isn’t that people are on different sides… The problem is that so many people are on a side which has it’s foundation in injustice and oppression. This is not to say that one side is totally “right” and one side is totally “wrong.” But we can certainly say that one side is BETTER… And the reason we can say this is because Goodness EXISTS. Everyone’s opinion is NOT equal. Both Sides is BS. There is truth in the world, and we can know something about it.
And the Truth is that Trump is the villain in any story anyone could write, and if you are raising young men who want to wear the villain’s hat, you are raising them WRONG. If you are raising young men in a culture which okays harassing young women and screaming “MAGA!” at them, you are raising them WRONG. If you choose to send your kids to a school with zero diversity (actually zero on the staff, and close to zero diversity within the student body) and deny them the opportunity to grow up around different cultures, you are raising them WRONG. If you have enough money to send your sons to an expensive, all-boys private school, and you aren’t teaching them to use their privilege to HONOR and STAND UP FOR the rights of oppressed people, but instead they use their bodies and their voices to openly mock and disrespect them, you are raising them WRONG. If you aren’t educating your sons about the objectively racist past of religious and private schools in this country, you are simply doing it WRONG.
Covington Catholic is doing it WRONG… And if you are defending them, you are too.
This week has taken a lot out of me. It’s exhausting to to care this much, but this blog energizes me and fills me with Life… And part of that Life is the people who care enough to help support my writing. I seriously love you all. If YOU would like to support this blog, you can BECOME A PATRON. It’s easy, and it makes a big difference in my life. If you’d like to LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL, you can do that too. Please follow me on Twitter and on Facebook. Stay hopeful, get some rest, do good work, have some fun… Don’t give up.