The “Covington Catholic” mess

Grania warned me that this subject was “toxic,” but I don’t have much to say that’s controversial, so I’ll be brief.

Everyone has probably heard about the three-way confrontation in Washington D.C. between a group of Native Americans, including the drum-beating Nathan Phillips, a group of high school boys from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, including Nick Sandmann, and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites. The media, both regular and social, initially jumped on the story, indicting Sandmann for “smirking” at a Native American, and valorizing Phillips for trying to defuse the situation. It was a “white guy” versus “indigenous people” story (the Black Hebrews were conveniently omitted.) Tweets were fast and furious, with the entire Left damning Sandmann for smirking at a person of color. It was an Authoritarian Leftist’s dream story, sparking the outrage they love so much.

But it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. When the newspapers (including the New York Times) decided to settle back and actually investigate the story, it became complicated. There were no heroes, and there was bad behavior on all sides. The best take on all this is Caitlan Flanagan’s story in The Atlantic (click on screenshot):

You can read it for yourself, and also get a good take from following the tweets in this thread from Megan McArdle, a columnist at the Washington Post (see her column on this here).

My take: the only truly racist and nasty people here were the Black Hebrews, who taunted both the Covington kids and the Native Americans. Everybody else was guilty of missteps and some of borderline bigotry, but this was hardly a watershed moment in race relations in America.


Covington kids: Well, they wore MAGA hats and participated in the antiabortion March for Life, but hey, they’re Catholics. They’re also kids, and perhaps many of them weren’t really Trump supporters. Who knows? Yes, I object to their stand on abortion, but it’s a religious view (wrongheaded, in my opinion) and not racism. As for Sandmann, I am not at all sure he was smirking; perhaps he was just smiling nervously and didn’t know what to do. There’s no sign he was racist towards Phillips or even the Black Hebrew Israelites. Some of the Covington kids appeared to make the “tomahawk” chop hand gesture toward the Native Americans, which is offensive and borderline racist.

Nathan Phillips and his pals. Phillips has changed his story repeatedly as the truth came out, also saying that he was a “recon ranger” in Vietnam, which wasn’t true (he was neither a “recon ranger,” a job that doesn’t exist, nor did he serve in Vietnam). I have no evidence that he’s a Native American “elder,” except that he’s not young. His drumming in the faces of the kids could be interpreted as provocation, not conciliation. And one of his Native American companions told the Covington kids, “You white people, go back to Europe where you came form.” Well, that verges on racism, but it wasn’t Phillips who said that. Phillips did say that he heard the Covington students chant “Build that wall!”, a reference to Trump’s border wall, but the videos don’t bear out Phillips’s claim which is based on either mishearing or is simply made up.

The Black Hebrew Israelites. They were taunting everyone with offensive accusations, and are beyond the pale. But they’re a fringe group, hardly representative in any way of blacks, just as Sandmann isn’t representative of whites. We can dismiss the BHIs as deluded fanatics of no import.

So all three groups, in the heat of the moment, said things that were unpalatable, and the Covington boys were pretty right-wing for my taste. But the fact remains that this is not the apotheosis of white racism—as many reporters and tweeters hastened to inform us.

If there’s anybody who did real damage to the country, dividing it further in this moment, it is the media and the hair-trigger tweeters, especially the celebrities who are, as they say, “influencers.” The media reported prematurely, before investigating, and so did the people who scrambled to their keyboards to tweet. I didn’t want to weigh in unless and until the facts were better known.

Well, the facts are in, and they’re messy—just like life, and just like most of us. Nobody’s perfect and all of us have biases, but the biases here aren’t what they were first reported to be. Besides the press, much of which still insists on trying to retain its narrative despite those messy little facts (the Outrage Tweeters are also trying to keep the narrative going), the only participants in the fracas that I find shameful are the Black Hebrew Israelites, who are beyond the pale, and not important.

As for the press, Flanagan faults them severely in her essay, especially the New York Times. I largely agree, but when she started accusing the NYT as being partly responsible for helping elect Trump, I think she’s gone too far:

How could the elite media—The New York Times, let’s say—have protected themselves from this event, which has served to reinforce millions of Americans’ belief that traditional journalistic outlets are purveyors of “fake news”? They might have hewed to a concept that once went by the quaint term “journalistic ethics.” Among other things, journalistic ethics held that if you didn’t have the reporting to support a story, and if that story had the potential to hurt its subjects, and if those subjects were private citizens, and if they were moreover minors, you didn’t run the story. You kept reporting it; you let yourself get scooped; and you accepted that speed is not the highest value. Otherwise, you were the trash press.

At 8:30 yesterday morning, as I was typing this essay, The New York Times emailed me. The subject line was “Ethics Reminders for Freelance Journalists.” (I have occasionally published essays and reviews in the Times). It informed me, inter alia, that the Times expected all of its journalists, both freelance and staff, “to protect the integrity and credibility of Timesjournalism.” This meant, in part, safeguarding the Times’ “reputation for fairness and impartiality.”

I am prompted to issue my own ethics reminders for The New York Times. Here they are: You were partly responsible for the election of Trump because you are the most influential newspaper in the country, and you are not fair or impartial. Millions of Americans believe you hate them and that you will casually harm them. Two years ago, they fought back against you, and they won. If Trump wins again, you will once again have played a small but important role in that victory.

Well, we don’t know whether Trump would have lost if the NYT’s reporting conformed to Flanagan’s wishes, but there’s no doubt that the paper is becoming a social-justice rag that reflexively hates everything Trump does, and that it’s biases are spilling into the news. That makes the paper look bad, even to a liberal like me.  I don’t know whether the Times‘s reporting of the Covington affair will have any influence on the next Presidential election, but the backtracking of the press surely makes it—and the Leftist views represented by the Times—look bad to Middle America. But if Trump wins again, I’ll blame it on the stupidity of America rather than the Left-wing press. After all, everybody knows about Trump’s perfidies, and it’s the people who vote, not the press.

Oh, and this just confirms my view that Twitter, while it can be good for promulgating news and science, is dreadful when it comes to politics and ideology. If anything is toxic, it’s Twitter, which gives village idiots a global platform. Oh, and the virtue of being charitable rather than damning seems to have vanished in our land.


  1. GBJames
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Humans really are a stew of crap sometimes.

    • BJ
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      This is really the best take on everything. “People behave poorly. No news at 11.”

  2. Posted January 25, 2019 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    It’s a story that never should have been a story, but social media said otherwise.

  3. yazikus
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Regardless of the intentions of the Cov. kids, in this case I don’t think the internet shaming achieved the desired effect at all.

    I don’t know that I would call anything Phillips did ‘bad behavior’ (having watched the videos, I can’t conclude he was drumming aggressively).

    As far as the behavior of the kids – I think back to when we took school trips. We were always reminded that we would be not just ambassadors for our school, but for our families and our entire community. Behavior like we see in the video would not have been tolerated. I haven’t seen anyone criticize the chaperoning adults, but they should carry some of the blame as well, I think. Some of those boys were undoubtedly jeering, and the tomahawk gestures seems difficult to dispute. Sandmann’s smile does look to me to be an insufferable, leering grin, but that too is subjective.

    • Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Yes, I agree, especially who advised the kids to wear MAGA hats.

      I have no interpretation of Sandmann’s expression; who knows what he was doing and thinking in the moment the picture was snapped? Given that it’s subject to interpretation, and not at all certain, people should have refrained from characterizing it, and from doxxing the kid.

      • Steve Cameron
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        Let’s give these kids some agency and assume that wearing the MAGA hasts was their own decision and not suggested or imposed by their school or chaperones.

        I’m not sure what Jerry means by “borderline” racist, but those hats by themselves represent a pretty despicable ideology of callous bigotry and xenophobia. Even though it’s the slogan of a sitting president and is tacitly endorsed by a plurality of the electorate, it hasn’t been (and shouldn’t be) normalized. Wearing those hats means something, even if some of the boys might not fully appreciate it. I think it’s okay to be concerned that some of them are shaping up to be the next generation of deplorables.

        • mikeyc
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:39 am | Permalink

          It does seem to me that that hat isn’t so much a political statement as it is a statement of identity.

        • rustybrown2014
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

          I think the knee-jerk demonization of MAGA hats is very wrong-headed. A MAGA hat is a piece of apparel signaling support for a particular candidate and his agenda, period. It’s very dangerous and illiberal to vilify fellow citizens for simply wearing a garment with a campaign slogan on it, and I’m sure those doing the vilifying would not wish the same treatment on themselves. And no, it’s not an intellectually valid argument to say “But I support the good candidate and you support the bad one.”

          • Steve Cameron
            Posted January 25, 2019 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

            “…and his agenda” is the key part there. This isn’t knee-jerk here, on my part or the part of the people who make that sartorial choice. Trump’s agenda is proudly and plainly (and objectively) xenophobic, demonizing and dehumanizing immigrants and Muslims (and many other groups including Native Americans) to the point where many of his supporters cheer on separating children from their parents by force. (And I’m the one doing the vilifying here?) To suggest that anyone wearing those hats isn’t aware of that aspect of Trump’s agenda comes off as patronizing.

            • mikeyc
              Posted January 25, 2019 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

              Yes. In fact it is clear that many wear those hats as a kind of uniform – identifying themselves to others as members of the same tribe. For many it is not merely a statement on policy.

            • Blue
              Posted January 25, 2019 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

              +1. Yours is, as well Mr Cameron, my view.
              Wearers know: .that. is the .why. behind
              their not only voting for him but that his is
              … … the violent agenda his voters wanted .in. their president.

              Three relatives and some at my gym wear such.
              Their choice, sure.

              I shall have squat to do with them. My choice.


            • rustybrown
              Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

              “Trump’s agenda is proudly and plainly (and objectively) xenophobic, demonizing and dehumanizing immigrants and Muslims (and many other groups including Native Americans)”

              I don’t think that’s an objective analysis of his agenda at all and it’s absurd you claim it to be. I would say the vast majority of Trump supporters don’t view his policies in such a hostile, hyperbolic way. That you choose to do so is your own business but in fact there are solid arguments for many of his immigration proposals, even on humanitarian grounds.

              You also seem to be conflating “immigrants” with “illegal aliens”.

              • Steve Cameron
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

                I’d link you to the countless clips that back me up, but you’ve already seen them. At a certain point denying that the guy who says “they send us their rapists”, who talks about “shithole countries”, who calls a caravan of asylum seekers a national security threat, and who wants to, oh yeah, build a stupid wall to keep them out, is a bigot with a xenophobic agenda is what’s absurd.

                And I’m pretty sure it’s Trump and many Americans, not me, who are confusing immigrants with illegal aliens. Illegal alien is a made up slur with no legal definition :

              • rustybrown
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

                No, I’m certain it’s you who are conflating those terms. Immigrants are generally understood (in both law and vernacular) to be legal residents while the term “illegal alien” is indeed a precise and accepted term for someone who comes into the US unlawfully:


                And yet you stated that Trump’s agenda is: “demonizing and dehumanizing immigrants”. Name me a policy or even a statement of Tump that does that.

                As for your other points, they’re cherry picked controversial moments and it’s obvious to me that you’re invested in interpreting them in the least charitable light. There are however other interpretations besides “xenophobic bigot” for each of them.

            • Posted January 25, 2019 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

              “And I’m the one doing the vilifying here?”
              I think, yes. To me, you are vilifying a bunch of kids that have already been demonized by the media for no reason.

              • rustybrown
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

                Yes. I’ve seen far too much of “Well, yeah, it turns out the kid did nothing wrong but he’s wearing a MAGA hat so he kinda deserves the pile-on he’s getting.” Very creepy stuff if you ask me.

                Also, In any type of confrontation like this between adults and children we quite rightly put the burden of measured, responsible behavior and de-escalation on the adult, no? That’s certainly not what happened in this case.

              • Steve Cameron
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

                If I’ve vilified anyone in these comments it’s Trump. Those kids were being stupid jackasses and, like I said, some of them are probably deplorables in the making, but I didn’t say anywhere that they deserve this level of international attention — because of their MAGA hats or their behaviour. I’m not surprised though, and I don’t have a lot of sympathy for them, but I can recognize, like most people, that it’s been blown way out of proportion.

                And keep in mind that it’s not for “no reason” that these kids have been thrust in the national spotlight. They weren’t exactly well behaved in any of the clips. You can argue that it didn’t merit this level of attention, but you can’t claim they were all being angels.

              • Posted January 27, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

                One, esp. a minor, need NOT be an angel to be spared an international character assassination campaign. Nobody of us here is an angel. And you are continuing to vilify the kids: “stupid jackasses”, “deplorables in the making”. I hope dearly that your occupation does not include work with children and teenagers.

              • rustybrown
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

                You’re equivocating is breathtaking. The definition of vilify is: “to speak or write about in an abusively disparaging manner.” I would think “stupid jackasses” and “deplorables in the making” qualify.

      • Dean Reimer
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        I saw Sandmann’s expression as a smirk of disdain, and initially saw his body language as an attempt to intimidate (initial video, of course, made it appear that Phillips was alone).

        But I’ve since concluded that viewers have simply used Sandmann as a proxy for things that they hate about Trump’s America. If you hate the racism, you see racism. If you hate disrespect of elders, you see disrespect of elders. If you’ve ever been abused, or bullied, or been the brunt of sneering condescension, then you see those things. None of these projections make it so, but it feels so true that many people cannot be reasoned out of it. Especially when maintaining your tribal identity requires that you double down on your feelings.

      • Mark Coggiano
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        The morning after Trump’s 2016 victory, my cousin sent his kindergartner to school dressed in Trump attire and MAGA hat. After learning that the costume was not well received, he took to social media to blame and excoriate detractors for causing his son’s sadness. I questioned my cousin’s parental judgement, but he said it was his son’s desire to dress that way…

        • Merilee
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

          Poor kid…
          Although one of my three brothers (Econ degree from Stanford) still defends Trump. We can NOT talk politics.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        Nothing says “Catholic values” like wearing a hat that honors a thrice-married libertine who spent a weekend in Tahoe raw-dawging pornstars and playmates while his new wife was home nursing their newborn baby.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      I agree. What bothered me the most was the kids doing the tomahawk chops and such. I didn’t think Sandmann was so bad but the grin was annoying.

      • Posted January 25, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        If the tomahawk chop bothers you, steer clear of SunTrust Park. There you’ll see 40,000 people doing it.

        • W.T. Effingham
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

          Also K.C.’s Airhead Stadium (or so I’ve been told).

    • Caldwell
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Phillips told a completely false version of the incident – and himself – to the media. They ate it up.

      I can’t conclude he was drumming aggressively.

      So if you’re standing at a bus stop minding your own business and a rather nutty-looking person starts banging a drum literally inches from your face and staring right at you…no problemo? Sure.

      • yazikus
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        They weren’t at a bus stop, they were at a rally.

        • BJ
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

          That was the end-point of their rally, where they were supposed to wait for their chartered bus to take them back to school.

        • BJ
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

          And this is what Phillips first said about what he did, before he started changing his story:

          “There was that moment when I realized I’ve
          put myself between beast and prey,” Phillips
          said. “These young men were beastly and
          these old black individuals was their prey,
          and I stood in between them and so they
          needed their pounds of flesh and they were
          looking at me for that.”

          He was intentionally trying to provoke the students.

          I think, in light of the extreme verbal abuse by BHI the students had taken for quite some time at that point, that they reacted in a remarkably restrained manner. Perfect? No, very far from it. But nobody acts perfectly, especially at protests.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      I have exactly the opposite view.

    • Filippo
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      “I haven’t seen anyone criticize the chaperoning adults, but they should carry some of the blame as well, I think.”

      I’m inclined to think that significantly fewer adults are inclined to chaperone a group of contemporary adolescent human primates so predisposed to not behaving themselves. If I correctly recall, some years ago my high school stopped senior high school trips due to not only the costs and liability but also student misbehavior and irresponsibility. A few years ago I witnessed a science museum guide having to talk bluntly and loudly to a group of middle schoolers to get them to shut up and listen. At least once everyone should have the “privilege” of dealing with such a group.

  4. Stephen Caldwell
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I agree that there were bad actors on all sides in this incident. It does make you wonder how different it would have been if the shutdown had not affected the national park police.

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    was waiting for this. nailed it.

  6. Laurance
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    I heard about this incident via Quillette:

    I’ve read, and need to re-read and think and try to get a handle on all this.

  7. Merilee
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:20 am | Permalink


  8. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    That video [longer version than the one that went viral] appeared first somewhere on Instagram it seems. Then Twitter account @2020fight ripped it & shortened it to show only two of the three ‘sides’.

    Twitter suspended the @2020fight account on Monday – it ‘followed’ over 37,000 users & averaged 210 posts and likes a day, which experts say are classic signs that an account may be automated or inauthentic. The account claimed to be a California school teacher named Talia, but the photo used matched a Brazilian blogger & model. I’ve read there’s a small circle of automated Twitter accounts amplifying each other & @2010fight is part of that. It aims at 20 to 30 year old professional types – the ones most likely to react against the MAGA Covington boys.

    I look forward to finding out who is driving these accounts – USA home grown this time perhaps?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      @2010fight @2020fight

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

  9. DW
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    What’s missing from your summary is the frothing-at-the-mouth vitriol from the blue check mark twitterati directed towards these kids. Even if the initial accusation was completely accurate, the response was completely out of line. They were accusing of “mocking” someone. And their response was to demand that they be expelled, their parents lose their jobs, a Saturday Night Live actress offered sexual favor to anyone who assaulted the kids, a school shooting was suggested, and one NBC producer even declared that they should be fed into a wood chipper.

    They demanded their lives be completely ruined for the crime of “not respecting a native american elder”. This has gone too far.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      The doxing was bad – a kid was a victim of misidentification and his family was receiving death threats. It’s so dangerous – we are lucky no one was physically hurt.

    • James
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Agreed. These people are dangerously unhinged. They are why many people voted for Trump, and why they will do so again–if your options are “Egotistical jerk” and “folks who may actually murder you for disagreeing with them”, Americans are going to pick the egotistical jerk every time.

      It also shows the short memory many Americans have. Remember the whole assault thing during Trump’s campaign? The Left held it up as an example of how evil Trump was. Well, guess how the Left looks now….

      • Jim Swetnam
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        I think of the physical threats the Parkland School kids have recieved from the right, and I have to cnclude that this is a phenomenon I’d be most likely to associate with that side of the politocal spectrum. Plus they’ve also got that egotistical jerk.

        • Posted January 25, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          There are unhinged, nasty people on both sides. But I have never seen such wild attacks against Parkland students in mainstream media.

    • JD Anderson
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Terrorizing children with threats, posting their personal information via doxxing, and rallying others to attack and humiliate them is all pretty sickening. It’s much, much worse than anything that happened at the rally, for certain. If there’s anything that needs discussed after this incident, it is that.

      And the need for people to insist, over anything else, that *something* the children were doing was wrong bothers me. At most, the Tomahawk chop was offensive, but the children likely meant it positively–the same way people do when using it at football games where certain teams are playing. That doesn’t make it inoffensive, mind, but it certainly doesn’t make them worthy of scrutiny and ridicule.

      It’s as if the people who first found a problem with the kids but have seen the full video are now trying their damnedest to make sure they can still identify something else as wrong or flawed with them to justify how they first felt. In most other situations, we’d be rightly pointing out that they are children, detailing all the ways they can’t possibly be expected to conform to the behavior expected of adults, especially after having been verbally assaulted with slurs by the Hebrew Israelite group. But here, those kids are just tiny-looking adults for people to shoot their arrows into, apparently.


  10. Greg H
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    The American experience makes one think: Is diversity really a strength? Or is that just what idealistic leftists would like to be true?

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      What’s your alternative?

      We ARE a diverse society, like it or not.


      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        That’s the same question radical nativists have been posing since the first Pilgrim off the Mayflower did a one-eighty on Plymouth Rock and told the rest of ’em to go back where they came from.

        Plus ça change …, Linda.

      • Greg H
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        That’s not my point. Of course we ARE a diverse society, everybody can see that. But perhaps those who constantly preach “diversity is our strength” are hopeless optimists who are simply repeating as if by rote a central dogma that is politically expedient but which is contradicted by the facts. I would think those who are committed to science would be willing to challenge any claim to truth, no matter how sacrosanct. If it turns out that diversity is NOT a strength, at the very least it would serve us right to stop pretending it is. I don’t think a truly just society can be built on lies, however noble the lies are.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          I’d certainly conclude, from those conflicts in the videos, that tribalism is our greatest weakness.

          • Diane G
            Posted January 28, 2019 at 1:52 am | Permalink

            I as well.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          What makes you think there’s a “scientific” answer to the question whether diversity is good or bad? Sounds like a value judgment to me. And I (and, I’m confident, many like me) much prefer to live elsewhere than in a homogeneous ethno-state.

          And I think Linda deserves a answer to the question she put to you: Is this simply an abstract intellectual inquiry on your part, or do you have some solution in mind should diversity turn out to be a net negative (by whatever “scientific” measure you should propose to use)?

          • Greg H
            Posted January 26, 2019 at 12:56 am | Permalink

            Ken Kukec you really do come across as a sort of arrogant know-it-all. I’m sure you get a thrill down your leg when you look in the mirror. But that’s neither here nor there.

            If you accept the theory of evolution, which I presume you do, then it’s not so hard to imagine a “scientific” (your quotes, not mine) answer to the question. Either genes and environment have made us what we are, or they have not. I simply point to exhibit A: modern America. Draw your own conclusions.

            Now, thanks for insinuating I might be proposing some kind of “final solution” if diversity turns out to be a negative, but you would be jumping the gun. I despise politics almost as much as I despise know-it-alls.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

              Takes one to know one, I suppose, when it comes to arrogant know-it-alls. I’m not the one here taking people to task for ignoring science when they say diversity is a strength. And how does evolutionary science answer the moral question whether diversity is good or bad?

              And you’re still dodging Linda’s question: if it turns out diversity is a weakness, what then?

              • Greg H
                Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

                I’m not asking the *moral* question of whether or not diversity is “good” or “bad.” I’m asking the question: What is the impact of diversity on a population. I’m assuming primarily racial and ethnic, but also religious and cultural as well.

                In fact, Harvard Professor Robert Putnam did a study years ago that shows the *effects* of diversity on a population to be very negative. You can google and read the study for yourself. In short, people trust each other less, participate in civil government less, and engage in the community less.

                If his *scientific* study is correct — and I think it is, because it confirms what we see everyday in the news — then diversity is NOT a “strength” in the sense that politicians and other well-meaning individuals would like us to believe.

                What is the solution then? I’m not proposing one, and I never said that I would or that I could. The nation IS diverse, as Linda said, and there’s nothing to be done about that. I’d just like people to stop saying “diversity is our greatest strength” for crying out loud. It’s a wonderful *notion*, and an enlightened *ideal*, to be sure, but it does not correspond to the facts on the ground. We are primates, after all, are we not? It’s not at all surprising.

                This will be my last post, so have at it.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

                If you’re referring to Putnam’s “Bowling Alone,” it isn’t an independent study; it’s an essay (later expanded into a book), based on studies done by others, none of which (from the excerpts I’ve read) address the benefits of diversity per se.

                Putnam’s major premise is that modern America as a whole suffers from a lack of social engagement. I think that’s true. He cites a diverse population as one source contributing to an underlying lack of trust among US citizens. But he also cites the many benefits a diverse society provides, as he did in this NPR interview.

                He hardly makes the case, and in fairness never set out to, that diversity is a net negative, let alone a source of American carnage.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:47 am | Permalink

                In any event (and this will be my final word on the matter), I don’t see how (pace the suggestion in your initial comment) it can ever be more than one’s opinion whether diversity is a strength or a weakness.

                How do you quantify, for example, the value of soul music or Tex-Mex cuisine?

              • Posted January 27, 2019 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

                Thinking on any issue can be enlightened with research and data. Immigration in the US has lots of data to show us its benefits and costs. Sure, some aspects of the issue are subjective by nature but opinions on them can still be bolstered with statistics and research. For example, a comprehensive listing of benefits might remind an on-the-fence xenophobe of their love of Tex-Mex.

      • Merilee
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        There’s far more to like than not to like.

  11. Caldwell
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Some of the Covington kids appeared to make the “tomahawk” chop hand gesture toward the Native Americans, which is offensive and borderline racist.

    I’d never heard of “the” tomahawk chop before this incident.**

    Are there any other mentions of such a thing – anywhere? I think the concept was invented in order to blame these children for *something*, even if it’s vanishingly trivial and completely harmless.

    Oh wait!
    “The tomahawk chop is a sports celebration most popularly used by fans of the American Florida State University Seminoles, Atlanta Braves baseball team, the Kansas City Chiefs American football team and the English Exeter Chiefs rugby union team.”

    I think the children who used that motion should apologize to those sports teams.

    **not a sports fan.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      That chop is offensive to natives in sports or not.

      • BJ
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        Perhaps, but they can be seen doing it before any Native Americans show up. It’s a regular part of sports/school spirit chants in many places for many decades, most notably for Atlanta Braves fans.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          I saw them doing it only when they were among the native group.

          • BJ
            Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:03 am | Permalink

            I tried to watch as much of the nearly two hours of video I could, and I thought I saw some doing it during their school chants. It’s hard to tell. I agree with you that (1) I could have been seeing movements that were simply similar, and/or (2) that even more of them did it when confronted by Phillips. I certainly can’t say I’m 100% certain about them doing it before Phillips/his group showed up. Thanks for making me clarify that. You’re right that, at the least, I shouldn’t have asserted it with such certainty.

      • Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Although tomahawk chops are indeed regarded as offensive by Native Americans, they are not *intended* as such by sports fans.

        When sports teams adopt symbols and mascots, they feel good about these symbols, they are not belittling their mascots — that would amount to belittling their team — they respect them. Thus sports fans adopting symbols and mascots are not doing so with demeaning intent.

        Miami fans are not trying to demean dolphins, Seattle fans don’t disrespect seahawks, and Dallas fans don’t think badly of cowboys.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

          Yes, but everyone now knows it’s offensive so why keep doing it? Is it so important to keep this tradition knowing it’s deeply offensive to a whole group that it’s worth upsetting a whole group and harming relations over? Or is it more charitable to say, “you know this chop for a sports team isn’t worth harming relations over, let’s find something else”.

          • Rita Prangle
            Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

            Agreed, that would be a reasonable approach. That doesn’t mean we need to stop using a commonly used expression anytime one person, or a very small group objects, but in the case of the “tomahawk chop” and team names such as “redskins”, these are more generally seen as offensive.

        • Steve Pollard
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          And I’m pretty certain that Exeter Chiefs fans have no idea that their club song might be regarded as offensive:

        • Douglas Thompson
          Posted January 26, 2019 at 11:03 am | Permalink

          The intention is irrelevant (and I think you are pathetically naïve on that issue). The impact on a disadvantaged group is the point of concern.

          • Posted January 26, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

            I’m sorry, but when it comes to causing offence, I do not regard intent as irrelevant.

            • Diane G
              Posted January 28, 2019 at 1:57 am | Permalink

              Intent often makes all the difference, IMO.

      • Filippo
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        The U.S. Navy’s Tomahawk cruise missile comes to mind. I wonder if that also causes offense.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 26, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          I don’t know do you think someone making the motion of eating a hotdog when they see white people is offensive? There’s a difference between a word and behaviour.

          • Filippo
            Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

            I’m simply saying I wouldn’t be surprised if someone somewhere takes offense at it.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

              Perhaps but when a large group takes offence and the reason is completely understandable, it’s worth reconsidering doing it.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Sorry, but I can’t hear “black Israelites” without thinking of Desmond Dekker & the Aces:

    • Merilee
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Much improved version of black Israelites😍

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        It’s da ur-reggae, baby. 🙂

        • Merilee
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

          Hadn’t heard that song in years (man).
          Those other Black Israelites were some kinda whacko.

  13. Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    The unfortunate load of crap may be the additional information Snopes may have uncovered in the wake of the issue. The bigotry at this particular school may be far worse:

    • Rita Prangle
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Additionally, the videos showing the kids harassing young women didn’t do much for their image. I think many of us are still remembering the vitriol directed at Christine Blasey Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings. These kids seemed to come from a similar environment that produced Kavanaugh and his friends.

      • rustybrown
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        You seem to be implying that Kavanaugh directed vitriol towards Christine Blasey Ford. I’m unaware of that. If that is indeed your assertion, can you provide any examples?

        • darrelle
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

          I think your interpretation here is obviously wrong. What Rita said is quite clear. She did not say that Kavanaugh directed vitriol towards Christine Blasey Ford. You are obviously searching for any technicality you can to claim a point. Sorry, there is no point for you to claim here.

          You could have denied that Ford wasn’t subjected to vitriol during the Kavanaugh hearings but you’d have been very obviously wrong about that given any commonly understood meaning of the term vitriol. So instead you attempt to misdirect by implying that Rita said Kavanaugh himself directed vitriol at Ford.

        • allison
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

          Maybe his attempted rape of her? That’s pretty vitriolic.

          • rustybrown
            Posted January 25, 2019 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

            darrell, I didn’t attempt to misdirect in any way. If you’ll read my comment carefully again you’ll note that I was politely asking for clarification of an assertion she seemed to be making. In any case, it appears your interpretation is obviously wrong as allison has since clarified that not only did K level vitriol at Ford but that it was in the form of attempted rape.

            allison, I’m sure you’re aware that there is absolutely no evidence for K attempting rape besides Ford’s incomplete and disputed account of what allegedly happened to her 36 years ago.

      • BJ
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        Has it been proven yet that those kids in that (once again very short, if it’s the clip I’ve seen) video were the same ones being doxxed, harassed, and sent death threats?

        And, even if it has been, it still does not in any way provide cover for the media, celebrities, and others who did what they did in this situation. There is no vindication to be had.

        • Filippo
          Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          A couple of days ago I saw an editorial cartoon of a media type “sympathetically” patting a MAGA cap-wearing Covington kid on the back while simultaneously sticking a “kick me” sign there.

    • Posted January 25, 2019 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Good luck to them digging for more crap to throw at the victims.

    • Diane G
      Posted January 28, 2019 at 2:06 am | Permalink

      That’s sickening. Just your basic nice Catholic school.

  14. BJ
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Just to add a few more things:

    1. The kids can be seen in the video doing the “tomahawk” chant before any Native Americans show up, so it could easily be part of the school spirit chants they were doing (just as it is part of many such chants, including summer camp chants I used to do as a kid).

    2. When Phillips was initially asked what happened, he said he approached the kids because they were “beastly” white people and he wanted to get between them and their prey.

    “There was that moment when I realized I’ve
    put myself between beast and prey,” Phillips
    said. “These young men were beastly and
    these old black individuals was their prey,
    and I stood in between them and so they
    needed their pounds of flesh and they were
    looking at me for that.”

    3. I’ll tell you what this should be a watershed moment for: the media, journalists, and Twitter. The media has made a national hate figure out of an innocent kid and all his schoolmates. Tons of people with blue checks on Twitter have exhorted their followers to doxx, harass, threaten, and even assault these kids. Journalists have taken part in all of this, many from what we consider “reputable” sources. Twitter has not banned any of them.

    • BJ
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      I would also like to note that, once the real information came out, only a few places made retractions. The NYT piece isn’t even a retraction as, if one reads the whole things, they left out crucial information vindicating the kids and intentionally wrote it in a way that still made Phillips and the BHI (a misogynist, homophobic, racist cult) sympathetic. They left out so much information that made the side they don’t like look bad that it looks more like a reinforcement of their original article, just dressed up in “adding context.”

      Finally, I haven’t seen many people change their minds on the issue after finding out about what really happened. Most of them still think these high school students deserve everything they’re getting and more (death threats, permanently tarnished reputations that will affect their adult lives, doxxing, etc.) because some had MAGA hats and they oppose abortion. Is this what we’re coming to?

      • Robert Van Orden
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

        Actually, I’ve seen a lot of people retract or reverse and apologize. Indeed, these kids were facing near universal condemnation for about 24 hours.

        To see examples, see Laura Wagner’s piece entitled “Don’t doubt what you saw with your own eyes”. She herself is doubling down (she has this article pinned on her Twitter at this time) but she links to a lot of the people who reversed.

        • Diane G
          Posted January 28, 2019 at 2:11 am | Permalink

          Yeah, I’ve been seeing hair shirts all over the place.

    • BJ
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Right, one last thing: I think it’s fair of you, Jerry, to dismiss BHI as a group, but not their role in making this mess happen. Among the insults they shouted at the students were: “faggots,” “incest kids,” “future school shooters,” and many more. They also called the black students the n-word and said their white friends would murder them and harvest their organs. One has to wonder if any of this would have happened without the BHI protesters, especially considering the statement from Phillips that I posted above, and the fact that the school spirit chants seem to have been intended to drown out the hateful rhetoric coming from BHI.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        That group (the religious sect) told the natives that “Indian” means “savage” and that they lost their land because they worshipped the wrong gods. They called the white kids “crackers” and the black kid “uncle Tom”. That was the worst behaved group – and they were adults.

        • BJ
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

          And yet the NYT “retraction” article merely called them a black activist group. It didn’t even name them, nor report on their behavior. The NYT followup piece claims to be adding “context,” but instead still leaves out almost all information that makes it look like they got it wrong the first time, and paints Phillips and the BHI as sympathetic parties.

          I’ve now officially lost all trust in that publication. At least The Atlantic had the integrity to release a full retraction.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

            I actually took not of that as well. There were other accounts where this group was dismissed as “oh they always act provocatively in public”. Well so what? It is offensive and aggressive and frankly dangerous. If you can say Aslan is doing something dangerous by saying that kid’s face is punchabme while you dismiss these men in the religious group as “Zou that’s just how they are” then you may want to think about why that is.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

              PCC actually dismissed them that way, too. “But they’re a fringe group, hardly representative in any way of blacks, just as Sandmann isn’t representative of whites. We can dismiss the BHIs as deluded fanatics of no import.”

              I disagree with him there. ‘They’re just being complete assholes as usual’ does not mean they don’t deserve condemnation and derision. In fact if their behaviour towards the MAGAs was the initial cause of the whole kerfuffle, they deserve by far the majority of the condemnation.

              Giving the BHI a pass because ‘that’s what they always do’ is just not on. Would we extend the same courtesy to the Illinois Nazis because they always make Hitler salutes?

              Most people tend to behave badly if someone attacks them (verbally or by gesture) in public. Who (MAGA wearer or not) is going to let themselves be abused and fail to defend themselves?

              (I can’t believe I’m defending MAGA-hat-wearing Catholic anti-abortionists here…)

              Oh and contra rustybrown, they chose to wear MAGA hats, they deserve the level of opprobium for that – i.e. an implication that they’re probably rather dumb, reactionary doofuses. Everyone should know the significance of a MAGA hat by now. But wearing one is a minor offence, not a major crime.


              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

                Though I see PCC has clarified his view in a comment just below this (“I’m not dismissing their causality here; …”)

                – with which I’m entirely in agreement.


        • Filippo
          Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:40 am | Permalink

          Right. Where were the BHI chaperones? (I looked for but didn’t see any women in this most edified of groups.)

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 26, 2019 at 10:37 am | Permalink

            The BHI were grown men. I guess you missed the part where they complained about a native woman when she spoke to them. They only speak to other men. Women aren’t allowed to speak so you won’t see women.

            • Filippo
              Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

              I confess that my “chaperone” comment was sarcasm. I will work harder at making that more explicit. I’ve no doubt that they are dismissive of women.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

                It’s still a good point though – these are grown men who behaved far worse than any group, including 16 year old boys!!

      • Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        I’m not dismissing their causality here; I’m dismissing them of being important politically. And they’ve been dismissed by the media, and unjustly so, as having created this mess, blaming it all on the Covington kids. Yeah, I think without the BHI, this wouldn’t have happened, so the bulk of the responsibility of this tempest in a teapot goes to them.

    • Steve Cameron
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      BJ, you point out that the kids can be seen making the tomahawk chop before any Native Americans appear, but given that this whole controversy started because of a lack of context perhaps a more defensible statement would be “before we see any Native Americans in the videos.” The footage doesn’t capture everything that was going on and the Native Americans could have been seen by the boys before they made their gestures and before they were seen on video.

      • BJ
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        Fair enough, but it’s a a video of two hours. From what I watched, I saw a few of them do it before the point in what is now the established timeline where those two groups intercepted one another. It’s possible you’re right.

        Regardless, everything else I said is correct without any doubt, and the overall point is that none of this should have been reported on or happened the way it did, and that a bunch of high school kids are now tarred for life and receiving death threats and exhortations to assault on them because of BS propagated by the media, celebrities, and others.

        • Steve Cameron
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

          “Tarred” is an apt choice of words given what else students at that school have done, as seen in the Snopes link in comment 13.

          • BJ
            Posted January 25, 2019 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

            (1) That is in no way a response to anything I said.

            (2) I would think that after this whole mess, based on a video clip significantly shorter than one minute, that people would try to stop jumping to the most uncharitable conclusions to justify what has happened to these kids, but my hope in humanity has once again proven to be misplaced.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted January 25, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

              I think I said to my dad when discussing the shitty way people behaved in their interactions with one another in this video, “People treating each other badly. In other news water is wet and the sky is blue”.

              • BJ
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

                Well said. And, as always, people are now running for any cover they can find to justify their bad behavior, rather than admitting any fault on any side for anything.

                There are very few people left in this world who believe in integrity and truth. I can’t help but wonder how a democracy can function in such an environment. Social media only seems to amplify and spread our worst impulses as human beings.

                Sometimes, despite all the enjoyment and knowledge I’ve received from the internet, I wish it had never been created 😦

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

                Funny enough, I had moaned and complained when the Internet went commercial. Now I think, for me personally, it has been more good than bad from that commercialization but you are right in how things get amplified. Videos especially should be lessons in that they are not necessarily the full story. It’s something we already knew but now where information goes by so fast and we are so distracted and amped up, it’s especially important to think about. Maybe Gillette should run an ad on slowing down and thinking things through. 😉

              • BJ
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

                And then everyone could immediately get really angry about the new Gillette ad telling them to slow down and think things through!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 8:55 pm | Permalink


            • Steve Cameron
              Posted January 25, 2019 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

              (1) I guess I’m looking at this with more of a sense of humour than you are.

              (2) I’m sorry I had to be the straw that broke your hope in humanity, but I think perhaps you’re being uncharitable in whatever you read into my comment. All I’m saying is that wearing a MAGA hat isn’t like wearing a Yankees cap — it doesn’t just identify the wearer with their favorite politician, but with their policies too. Certainly their popular and/or controversial policies, and people are going to see it that way no matter how much you wish it were otherwise.

              • BJ
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

                This is not a response to what I said about you posting that Snopes article. I never mentioned anything about MAGA hats. I don’t know why you’re talking about that, and since I didn’t mention it, of course I didn’t think/know that that’s “all you were saying,” since you didn’t say anything about it in the comment to which I replied.

              • Steve Cameron
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

                Ah, yes, I see that now. I got the two threads I was replying to in the comments confused.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    … a “recon ranger,” a job that doesn’t exist …

    Sounds to me like a mash-up of Army Ranger and Marine Recon — Marines who’ve gone through the same Airborne jump school as the Rangers at Fort Benning. Buddy of mine was one in Vietnam.

  16. DrBrydon
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The media really blew this one. They are the worst of the bad actors in this story.

  17. Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    The boy said he smiled at the man to show him he meant him no harm.
    Not all the boys had caps. Those that did had bought them a few hours before. Their counselor should have asked them not to wear them as they were in a group that represented the school. Also don’t think the counselor should have given them permission to perform the school chants.

    I though the man invaded the boy’s space by beating the drum in his face. The drum touched him a few times. Technically an assault. I would have pushed the drum away if I had been the boy, or moved away myself. Would not have stood there toe to toe.

    I admit I made an insulting remark about the boy on a friend’s face book page. She was blaming the boy also. We both later retracted our comments. It is easy to make judgments but judgments should not be made until you know the full story. And after investigation, reading the reports of the eye witnesses you still cannot be sure of what happened.

    • James
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      “Their counselor should have asked them not to wear them as they were in a group that represented the school.”

      Would you have advised the kids to remove buttons saying “Yes we can”? If not, than you really have no leg to stand on here. They were showing support for a sitting president, something that has been common in the USA pretty much since it was founded.

      • Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        All schools have rules against wearing cloths that are political in tone. That has been true for years and is strickly enforced. Thus is not something I have made up on the spot. Look it up.

        • James
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

          You dodged my question. I didn’t ask if there were rules against it. I asked if you would raise the same objection if, instead of supporting Trump, the item supported Obama. The issue is not what the SCHOOL is doing, but what YOU are doing.

        • Filippo
          Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:49 am | Permalink

          Well, certainly a private (v. public) school can tyrannically set rules. I wonder if they could get by with simply wearing black arm bands protesting U.S. government policies. (Re: SCOTUS case Tinker v. Board of Educ., 1969)

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        Nothing says “Catholic values” like wearing a hat that honors a thrice-married libertine who spent a weekend in Tahoe raw-dawging pornstars and playmates while his new wife was home nursing their newborn baby.

        • James
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

          The validity of the endorsement isn’t the issue. (Though as an aside, all the Right-wing blogs I read object to Trump’s private life. The reason they’re not concerned is that he at least says he’ll enact laws they like. They’re more concerned with outcomes than with Trump’s bedroom.)

          The issue is: Would you, personally, raise the same objection–and blame the victim–if instead of wearing items supporting Trump the kids had worn items supporting Obama?

          The fact that two posters deliberately dodged the issue, with the jab at the kids on your part, suggests the answer is “No”. Ergo, this is not a matter of principle, but of politics.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 25, 2019 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

            “They’re more concerned with outcomes than with Trump’s bedroom.”

            Those would be the same righwingers who were apoplectic ’cause Bill Clinton got a blowy? Back then, they couldn’t stop blathering about what a horrible role model he was for their children. And the reason they’re unconcerned now is that they’re willing to indulge in rank hypocrisy if it means they get to prevent women from maintaining reproductive autonomy.

            Personally, I’m in favor of anybody, of any political stripe, wearing any goddamn thing they feel like. My only point was that the MAGA hats probably don’t comport with the values their Catholic school ostensibly espouses (which is what I was responding to in your response to OG’s original comment).

            I’d feel the same way about kids wearing “Yes we can” buttons if their school’s motto was non enim potest. 🙂

            • Diane G
              Posted January 28, 2019 at 2:18 am | Permalink

              “Ostensibly” being the key word in your penultimate sentence.

  18. Rasmo Carenna
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Just a side note: Reza Aslan tweeted:
    “Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?”

    I guess he is so ‘woke’ he can afford to suggest punching a kid in the face w/o consequences.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      I know everyone jumped on Aslan for that but he wasn’t saying “go punch this kid”. I recalled the German word “backpfeifengesicht” – the kind of face you want to slap. I refuse to believe I am advocator of violence for feeling his face looked that way at the time.

      • BJ
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        Agreed. Aslan didn’t say he should be assaulted. His phrasing is just another way of saying, “don’t you just hate that guy’s face?”

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 25, 2019 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

          Aslan was completely outta line here … Ted Cruz’s face is much more backpfeifengesicht. 🙂

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 25, 2019 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

            I think Ted Cruz’s face is more eye poking worthy.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 25, 2019 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

              Where’s Moe Howard when you need him, huh?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

                You know, the older I get, the more I relate to Moe.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        I have to say, that smirk (and, I’ll admit, the MAGA hat is for me an exacerbating factor) *is* the sort of face I’d want to punch.

        But then, there are thousands of pictures of people caught at unfortunate moments that make me think ‘this person looks like a serial killer / born loser / psychopath’ – generally quite unjustifiably.

        So I think Aslan’s technically correct.

        But there’s certainly an implication in the question that maybe one *should* punch the guy.

        So I think Aslan’s tweet is – unhelpful the way he’s phrased it. Again, we can blame Tw*tter, and its whole 140-letters 5-second-attention-span milieu. As PCC said somewhere, not suitable for social issues.

        I take longer composing a smiley face on this page than most people do for their tweets. 8-(


    • Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      I thought he’d deleted this tweet (Aslan is one of the few people who have blocked me on Twitter), but I guess it’s still up. He’s beyond redemption.

    • Filippo
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      How “Christian” of Aslan to say that. I wonder if he ever punches his mirror.

      • Merilee
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        Punches his mirror…LOL

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

          You know he blows his reflection kisses.

          • Merilee
            Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            Puts on lipstick to kiss his mirror…

  19. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    It is stating the obvious, but the for-profit free press, as it struggles to have a voice within the social media, just cannot handle the torrent of information and mis-information that comes out of social media. One job that seems similar to what newscasters and their support crew must do are the floor traders on the stock exchange. They too must make instant commitments to buy or sell based on only preliminary developments.

  20. Dean Reimer
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I sincerely hope that the media take these lessons to heart, and stop participating in, and amplifying, social media callout/outrage culture. This never should have been a media story. There was no crime, no physical assault. Sure, people appeared to be shitty to other people, but people are shitty every day. It isn’t national news.

    I guess we’ll find out if the media has learned the next time someone does something shitty on video.

  21. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Well, we don’t know whether Trump would have lost if the NYT’s reporting conformed to Flanagan’s wishes, but there’s no doubt that the paper is becoming a social-justice rag that reflexively hates everything Trump does, and that it’s [sic] biases are spilling into the news.

    Two points:

    First, you ask me, in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, The Times bent over backwards to pursue some bullshit stories against Hillary while failing to pursue some legitimate leads against Trump. That’s not to say it wasn’t anti-Trump — it most definitely was — only that, if anything, its coverage suffered from the distorting effect of its striving for an ostensibly balanced, both-sides-do-it approach, out of its fear over these types of claims of favoritism.

    Second, what do you mean when you say its biases are “spilling into” the news? I’ve got many bones of my own to pick with the NYT recently. And it’s undoubtedly the case that reporters in its news division have biases of their own, as do all humans, and that those biases sometimes slip into their reporting. It’s also the case that there has been an infusion of authoritarian leftist guest editorialists into its op-ed pages. But the NYT has long served as the model of the journalistic world for the impermeable wall of separation it maintains between its news and editorial divisions. Hell, I believe the news division editor is forbidden by NYT policy from even ever discussing news coverage with the publisher.

    • Harrison
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      The media’s two primary biases are sensationalism and both-siderism.

    • BJ
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Have you watched the series The Fourth Estate on Showtime? It shows the process of the NYT editorial board. A big part of that process, like any newspaper, is deciding which stories to run and which to leave on the cutting room floor.

      I think the NYT has several problems that have cropped up in the last few years, and they’re problems I noticed when I was still subscribed. (1) They leave out crucial information in stories, or bury that information in the final three paragraphs where they know people won’t see it. This information tends to contradict the narrative of a news story that supports the Left/Democrats. (2) Their news articles often use language and weasel words that suggest to the reader a narrative they want to promote, even if that narrative isn’t readily apparent from the actual information on which they’re reporting. (3) They have hired editors who are steeped in activism and social justice, like Sarah Jeong, and those editors run entire sections of the paper. (4) The moment I cancelled my subscription, after years of noticing the previous three points with increasing frequency, was when I read an article about Lena Headey in the Arts and Leisure section. It unironically used the word “mansplaining” for male fans who tell Lena Headey their personal theories about Game of Thrones. When I realized the NYT was using social justice language in regular pieces — words that aren’t even part of any dictionary — I decided enough was enough. There was no chance it was going to climb out of the rabbit hole into which it had so happily jumped, and things would only get worse. That article was published about two years ago, and things have most definitely become worse there.

      • rustybrown
        Posted January 25, 2019 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Great observations. I’ll just add another obvious but important one: The biased selection of what news to run with and emphasize in the first place.

    • Filippo
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      In my view, the NY Times has expanded its op-ed into the news section with what it calls “news analysis.”

  22. Sastra
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    The initial reactions and follow ups did not all fall clearly into party lines when it was first reported that Sandmann and others had deliberately surrounded and blocked the Native elder from continuing on his way. There were Catholic spokesmen decrying the cruel racism of this — and liberal skeptics examining the video and noting that that’s not what happened.

    I’ve also heard that the story — and its framework — broke on a webpage traced to a fake account.

    Personally, I think Sandmann should have behaved with more respect to a stranger in an ambiguous situation and avoided the bizarre “I’m not moving because I have a right to be here” staring contest. He was guilty of teenage rudeness. Phillips, on the other hand, is imo a piece of work and, among other things, is guilty of opportunism.

    • max blancke
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      I have wondered what I would have done in his place. From his perspective at the time, having just listened to an hour-long racist diatribe from the Black Israelites, they did school cheers to drown out the obscene language. Then, while in the midst of their chant, a random person who might be a busker or homeless person wades into their group chanting and drumming. Right in their faces. What a surreal experience. What is an appropriate response? back away, and have the old man chase you up the steps? Frown? Turn your back? Try to ignore him? One person reported that he had earlier started drumming in a young girl’s face, and she started to cry, so he moved on.
      And if you do have a better response, do you expect a kid of his age and experience to know as much?
      Remember as well that Elder Phillips was accompanied by a bunch of people with cameras. That just makes it more off-putting.

      But beyond that, the interaction itself was probably not considered especially notable at the time by any of the people involved. It was the edited video and image, with the misleading headline that really got things going. The kids were acting typically goofy because at the time, the old guy drumming was of minor importance. They could not have reasonably predicted that their reactions to him would be judged in such minute detail, or that they would be receiving threats to be “burned alive” based on analysis of their facial expressions.
      I would say much the same about Elder Phillips. He likely did not anticipate how all of this would reflect on him, either.

  23. Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I interpret Flanagan as blaming the NYT for its SJW content and incessant disparagement of ‘flyover state’ deplorables, which helped incite trump support as a backlash, and I concur.

  24. Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    The tomahawk chop started at FSU. The Atlanta Falcons drafted Dion Sanders where he played safety for years. I think he was the best defensive safety ever. The Braves signed him to play baseball. He introduced the chop and the chant and the Braves fans picked it up. I. The nineties when the Braves were in the playoffs every year and the World Series five times the chant and chop gained a lot of national press and attention. The Braves caught a lot of criticism for it. The Seminole Indian tribe tasted a statement that it’s yse by the Bravd and the FSY Seminoles was fine with them. I remember doing both as a fan in one of ghe world serues games as the cameras slowly panned th crowd prior to the start of the game.

    The Braves changed policy to remove all images of native Americans from any products or advertising. The show Tomahawks still, I vflueve and May do the chant but I have not been to a game in years.
    Dion is retired. He played in an NFL Galway game then flew to Atlanta and played in a World Series games in the same day. Only player to do that I believe. He was good.

    • Posted January 25, 2019 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      The Seminole Indian tribe released a statement saying it was fine with them for FSU to use their name, the chant, and the chop.

      They do the tomahawk still I believe and may do the chant

      NFL away game

  25. Posted January 25, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    My only addition to the conversation here is that Phillips mentioned that he served in the “Vietnam era”, not that he actually served in Vietnam. I heard him say this in one of the earliest interviews with him. I have no idea if he ever tried to mislead anyone on this but, considering all the bad reporting on this incident, I suspect this too was a result of others not listening closely to what Phillips said.

    • Posted January 25, 2019 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      I think he tried, repeatedly, to mislead listeners by this weasel formula. He misled professional journalists from reputable media. Some sources, such as the one linked above, claim that he presented himself as a Vietnam veteran in some 2018 Facebook video (but I have not found a link to the video itself and I do not use Facebook anyway).

      But even if Phillips did not try to mislead, seeing that he did mislead, he should have clarified in the countless interviews he produced after the incident.

      • Posted January 25, 2019 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        Linked below, not above. Oh my English on a hard Friday’s night…

  26. gteague
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    “The confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial jabbed a finger at the most sensitive nerve within the cavity that is the national discourse. It had everything: Trump, white kids, a Native American elder, black cultists in the background throwing anti-gay invective, abortion, (remember, the teens were there for the March for Life), and forensic videography. The only way it would have been more polarizing would be if the footage had been found on Anthony Weiner’s hard drive.”

    bb /s~

  27. Posted January 25, 2019 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I swallowed the fake news hook, line and sinker and made a few comments against the boys, for which I am sorry. Kudos to Prof. Coyne for waiting until facts were available.

    Like others above, I am stunned by the behavior of media. After spreading fake news and vilifying innocent teens, they are now grasping for straws to find some argument why the teens really deserved vilification. A good example is Time’s “The Problem With Savannah Guthrie’s Nicholas Sandmann Interview” by Judy Berman: “Nicholas Sandmann isn’t sorry… Guthrie, who has been criticized for giving Sandmann a platform since she teased the interview Tuesday afternoon on Twitter, allowed him to defend himself… It’s worth noting that, although the Israelites are a fringe movement… Sandmann at one point alarmingly referred to them simply as “the African Americans.”… The problem isn’t necessarily that he was trying to cast himself in the best possible light… As a journalist, Guthrie had a responsibility to help contextualize his actions by pressing him about his intentions in wearing the hat and attending the march.” I wonder what they are smoking at the Time. This peace smacks of a Pravda front page from the 1930s.

    Boys should not be blamed for being dragged to an anti-abortion rally by their school. They are victims, the school must be blamed. I have myself been dragged to countless events and forced to express support for views and policies that I hated (during my youth in communist Bulgaria).

    As for the MAGA hats, even if supporting Trump is really as bad as some claim, singling out a bunch of wrongly demonized minors in a country where tens of millions of adults voted for Trump looks like scapegoating and victim-blaming.

    I think that even if young Nick Sandmann smirked smugly in the face of the old man, there was nothing wrong in this. An adult opponent tried to provoke him and failed. Sandmann, correctly, thought of himself as a winner and smiled. He did not know that Phillips would go to the media to destroy him with lies and the media would listen to the lies like the Gospel.

    My opinion of Nathan Phillips is far less charitable than Prof. Coyne’s. I have read numerous interviews of him after the incident. He lied viciously and did his best to destroy Sandmann and the other students, misleadingly implying that he was a Vietnam veteran to gain respect and credibility. I do not know whether he was motivated by Trump derangement syndrom, racism, the fairly common hate of evil old people to young people, or some combination of these. What I see is that this otherwise mediocre person is a liar and evildoer of epic proportions, as if cropped from a Shakespearean tragedy. I am disappointed that the Native American community seems happy with him. The only exception I have found so far is some Twitter user named Kambree Koa. So much for stereotypes.

    • Posted January 25, 2019 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      “piece”, not “peace”.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted January 25, 2019 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      Yep, well said.

  28. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    This incident proves, again, how the current feminist and SJW mentality need white, in this case, Christian, males, to be evil.
    To be responsible for their and the worlds ills.
    To take a bemused smile of a young man standing, doing nothing, as the face of patriarchal white dominance is, as always from the shrieking mob, is obscene.

    And a the other kids, bouncing around?

    So what?

    And, of course, the dishonesty, the relentless dishonesty from these ‘types’.

    I don’t think those kids did anything wrong, at all.

  29. denise
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Someone, somewhere, is saying or doing something equally as offensive every day, if not every minute of every day.

    Shall we film and post it all to Twitter so we can be outraged without end, 24x7x365? We seem to feel compelled to publicly denounce and shame every instance of bad behavior on the planet.

    I think this is sick. The reaction disturbs me far, far more than the event. What disturbs me the most is how little anyone has been talking about how these are the same 2016 troll bots whipping it up. We are being played like violins.

  30. Robert Van Orden
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    This was interesting for the Rashomon effect, to me. On Saturday, I was sure myself that these kids were racists and also had committed a chargeable offense.

    Obviously, these kids didn’t commit a crime and the charge of racism is dubious.

    I’ve long hated the doxing practice that has developed over the last few years. It’s mob mentality. Even deplorable folks like BHI, what good comes from doxing them? What good comes from getting people fired from their job and harassing them and the like? Additionally, it’s used to quell unpopular speech.

    Twitter is a cesspool. I do use it to find links to interesting articles but try to divert my eyes from the comments. I have my trusted sources. I was very disappointed to the reactions to this story from certain people on Twitter. To hear some say it, (or tweet it) these kids deserve harsh punishment without due process! Scary!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Doxing is dangerous as someone could be hurt or killed by a mob or some unstable person looking for an excuse. It’s also bad because you don’t give that person an opportunity to clarify or change their minds – everything is decided based on a small snapshot of who it’s been decided they are.

  31. Posted January 26, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Hey the kids said they bought the hats from a vendor at the D.C.mall. It say make America great again , also a bill Clinton election slogan. The only real racist is black Hebrews and phillps, by attempting to break up a Catholic mass later that day.

    • Posted January 26, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Sure, let’s just take the slogan literally. Nothing racist with that, right? You can’t be serious.

      • rustybrown
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        You’re saying the phrase, taken literally, “Make America Great Again” is prima facie racist? In what way? Was it racist when Bill Clinton uttered it? Was it racist when Reagan said it? If the Mayor of Detroit says “Let’s make Detroit great Again!” is he being racist?

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