January 23, 2019

Covington Students

Last weekend, a viral video emerged of high school students allegedly harassing a Native American activist. The teenagers were initially widely condemned by many in the media, but subsequent video cast doubt on the initial impressions.
Cincinnati Enquirer

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From the Left

The left is reflecting on its rush to judgment, and contemplating the future of journalism in the age of Twitter.

“If the Covington Catholic incident was a test, it’s one I failed—along with most others. Will we learn from it, or will we continue to roam social media, looking for the next outrage fix? Next time a story like this surfaces, I’ll try to sit it out until more facts have emerged. I’ll remind myself that the truth is sometimes unknowable, and I’ll stick to discussing the news with people I know in real life, instead of with strangers whom I’ve never met… And above all, I’ll try to take the advice I give my kids daily: Put the phone down and go do something productive.”
The Atlantic

“I covered [the] 2016 election, from the numerous primary debates to that historic Tuesday night, and it's been my experience that a significant number of Donald Trump's supporters are racists. It has also been my experience that a significant number are not. And while many liberals believe those ubiquitous red baseball caps are a modern-day white hood… they are not one and the same.”

Counterpoint: “The new facts about this small encounter this weekend in Washington are important, and worth clarifying. But they don’t change the larger story… the MAGA hat is not a symbol of peace and reconciliation, especially when the bill of that hat is inches from the nose of a Native American.”

“Any actual truth about the rifts running through America right now can’t be cleanly distilled. That’s a harder story to tell — which might be why so few are trying.”
Washington Post

“Before you judge the reporters too harshly, it’s important to remember that these days the social media tail wags the mainstream media dog. If you want your story to be well placed and if you want to be professionally rewarded, you have to generate page views — you have to incite social media. The way to do that is to reinforce the prejudices of your readers… The nation’s culture is now enmeshed in a new technology that we don’t yet know how to control…

“The Covington case was such a blatant rush to judgment — it was powered by such crude prejudice and social stereotyping — I’m hoping it will be an important pivot point.”
New York Times

“Let’s be honest: A lot of conservative Americans do not trust us, and recent events have only reinforced the ‘fake news’ slur… In the case of the BuzzFeed story, I’m guessing there probably weren’t a lot of Trump voters involved in that editorial process. In the case of the Covington students, it is clear that their identities—privileged young white Catholic men smirking and wearing red MAGA hats—cast them as villains and triggered many media elites…

“Anyone who cares about preserving the institution of the media should be working to address these challenges, and (re)earn the trust of all Americans—even the ones who voted for Trump. The future of American democracy may depend on it.”
Daily Beast

From the Right

The right condemns the rush to judgment, arguing that the boys did nothing wrong while criticizing Nathan Phillips’ behavior.

The right condemns the rush to judgment, arguing that the boys did nothing wrong while criticizing Nathan Phillips’ behavior.

“Of the most culturally deplorable boxes one can check in progressive America in 2019, the boys of Covington Catholic High School have most of them: white, male, Christian, attendees at the annual March for Life in Washington, and wearers of MAGA hats. What’s not to dislike? So when four minutes of video footage emerged online this weekend showing the students appearing to harass a Native American Vietnam veteran named Nathan Phillips, America’s media and cultural elite leapt to judgment.”
Wall Street Journal

“One of the worst parts of identity politics is the loss of individual justice. People become groups—and an individual’s own guilt or innocence beside the point. By virtue of being white, male, and Trump supporters, Nick Sandmann and the other teens were smeared—for an incident that involved no physical aggression, and disputes over what was said.”
Daily Signal

Like so many stories that supposedly conveyed the reality of Trump’s America, that so perfectly displayed white Christian menace, it turned out to be fake. Fake, like the Ohio University student who sent herself anti-gay hate mail; manufactured, like the racist harassment on a bus that [Hillary] Clinton tweeted about; an attempted frame-up, with liberal credulity made into the co-conspirator, like the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery done by a progressive reporter.”
National Review

“Nathan Phillips went out seeking to create an incident, and he fooled the New York Times and the Washington Post into accepting his false version of it…

“His interviews and the various videos of the incident paint a picture of him saying he is a) terrified of the Catholic students yet b) walking right up to and into their group; a) doing his best to leave yet b) pressing forward insistently; a) trying to go up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial yet b) not noticing that there is a clear path up those steps approximately ten feet to his right.”
National Review

“White liberals have an ugly tendency to portray those who aren’t white as children, which is how the adult in this situation ended up painted as the poor victim. [Phillips] should be held to a higher standard. Native Americans are not perpetually stuck in anti-pollution ads with tears dripping down their eyes; they are adults with agency. This man had plenty of options open to him; he chose to accost kids with a drum, and then turn around and call them scary.”
The American Conservative

“Neither the BHI demonstrators nor Phillips exhibited what thoughtful, reasoned free speech ought to look like. Free speech does not consist of hurling obscenities and insults at the perceived opponent, nor does it consist of wordlessly inserting oneself into an already charged situation, as Phillips did, then lying about it afterward… The Covington Catholic boys have been terribly, horribly failed by a long parade of adults who, instead of modeling good behavior, have done the opposite.”
The Federalist

“In writing and speaking about this, I have drawn parallels to the Rolling Stone/University of Virginia gang rape hoax of 2014, which provides a powerful example of mainstream media getting a story very wrong in ways that permanently damaged the magazine's reputation… The ongoing effort to pretend that videos of boys doing pep rally type cheers in opposition to a hate group is in fact evidence of deep-seated racism makes me wonder whether Rolling Stonetruther-ism would have been much more common had the story come out in 2019.”

“‘Make America Great Again’ hats do not emit reality distortion fields that can change plain facts. Nor do they render those facts irrelevant.”
Washington Post

Use your noodle: Tokyo metro offers free food to ease crowding.
The Jakarta Post

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