Well, I’m wrapping up things in Dublin, sitting now at the airport waiting to board flight to the US. Had a great, great time here with new friends. Gave a Ben Op talk tonight at University Church, introduced by the great Irish journalist John Waters, to a packed house. I have a lot to tell you all about what I’ve seen and done here in Ireland, and still a lot to tell about Spain. Maybe I’ll have the chance to get caught up on some blogging on the long flight back, if they have wifi. If not tomorrow, then later this week — it’ll be good to get back into the rhythm of things.
I’ve been so busy here that I’ve not been able to follow the continuing fallout over the Covington Catholic boys and the terrifying thing that has happened to them. We now know that Nathan Phillips, the elderly Native American guy, flat-out lied about what happened — and the media fell for it. The Covington boys became international hate figures instantly (I say “international” because people here in Dublin were talking about it).
They were not guilty. At all. And yet, the moral insanity of this story continues to astonish. Here’s a tweet by a New York Times editor on January 20:
— Tina Jordan (@TinaJordanNYT) January 20, 2019
That was two days ago. She has neither retracted it nor apologized. Read the commentary she praises, written by black novelist Marlon James. He denounces the smiling boy as a white supremacist monster because the boy stood there doing nothing but smiling nervously.
Saturday was a day of liberal vindication. See! This is what those people do! This is who they really are. Reza Aslan, the religious scholar, tweeted a photo of the main Covington boy and asked, “Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?” The filmmaker Michael Green showed the same image and tweeted: “A face like that never changes. This image will define his life. No one need ever forgive him.”
The institutions in charge of serving the boys did what institutions always do in the face of a social media mob. They cratered. The school and archdiocese apologized. The mayor of Covington denounced them.
On Sunday several longer videos emerged showing that most of what Phillips had told the media was inaccurate. The incident actually started when members of the hate cult — the Black Hebrew Israelites — started hurling racist and homophobic slurs at the boys.
The Covington boys eventually asked their chaperone if they could do their school cheers. As they were doing that Phillips walked into the middle of their circle and banged his drum in the face of one of the boys. Everybody was suddenly confused. Students shouted, “What is going on?” Then there was confusion and discomfort, smirking and verbal jousting.
Everybody involved in the incident was operating in an emotional and moral context that has been set by the viciousness of the Black Hebrew Israelites. Of the major players, the boys’ behavior is probably the least egregious.
So Sunday was a day of conservative vindication. See? This is what those liberals do! They rush to judgment, dehumanize and seek to expunge us from national life. The main boy wrote a public letter that was consistent with the visual evidence and that was actually quite humane.
In this case the facts happened to support the right-wing tribe. But that’s not the point. The crucial thing is that the nation’s culture is now enmeshed in a new technology that we don’t yet know how to control.
He’s right … but it is a valid and important point that this is what many powerful liberals do. I was telling my Irish friends last night that it’s impossible to overstate how powerful this event is going to be for right-of-center Americans. It’s even more powerful than the Kavanaugh debacle, in terms of showing how so many progressive elites are driven by vicious contempt for those not like themselves — especially white male Christians. It’s not a crime to dislike preppy white Catholic boys in MAGA hats. But to attempt to destroy them, on the basis of faked “evidence”?
I would like to remind our left-wing friends that when Trump is re-elected in 2020 on the strength of votes by people who have been frightened by the prospects of liberals and progressives in power, think of the Covington boys, and what was done to them. As in the Kavanagh mob action, the left tried to destroy because the hate figures symbolized people they loathe: white, male, Christian conservatives. At least in the Kavanaugh case, there was a chance that he was actually guilty. It took almost no time to prove that these boys were not guilty. And yet, even after evidence vindicated them, many on the left continue the hatred. Because it feels so good.
What kind of parent would let his or her kids go to the March For Life now, knowing that next year, left-wing provocateurs will no doubt be crawling through the crowd, trying to instigate incidents that they can film and exploit to destroy lives? Brooks is right: this technology is destroying the possibility of public life.
In the cab from the hotel to the airport, I got in touch with my inner Thomas Friedman, and talked to the cab driver, an older white Irishman. He told me that he thinks Donald Trump is “a dangerous man,” but “I’ll tell you, political correctness has gone too far. He’s right about that.” Get this: an Irish cab driver doesn’t like Trump at all, but thinks he’s necessary, because the forces lined up against him are too powerful and malign. This morning, at least, I have come around to his way of thinking. Yesterday, someone made the point in my hearing that Trump has no regard at all for the truth, but the Buzzfeed report the other day, and now the national left-wing freakout over the Fake News of the Covington Catholic boys shows that despite its pretensions, many liberal elites don’t care for the truth either.
The cab driver talked about the Yellow Vests protests in France. He said they’re starting in Ireland, but he doesn’t know how far they’ll go. “We’ve got to do something in this country,” he said. “The people who run it are ruining the place. The inequality is something. They’re only out for themselves.” He denounced the ruling class bitterly.
“It could lead to a civil war,” he said. I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. I asked him if he would join the Yellow Vests if they got going in Ireland.
“Yes,” he said.
More later, from the plane, I hope.