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The Catholic Bonfire At The Stake

Good morning from Dublin. It is really interesting to observe US public controversies from outside the American bubble. I am startled by the massive controversy that has erupted over the Covington (KY) Catholic school boys and the Native American man, Nathan Phillips, in the aftermath of the March For Life. Several video clips of the confrontation between an elder of the Omaha tribe and a large group of Catholic high school boys wearing MAGA hats have gone viral. Here’s a news story about the video, summing up the basics of the controversy.  [1]

A selected part of the clip shows boys jumping and hooting and acting in a somewhat intimidating way towards the older man, as if to mock him. Some people interpret the boy standing in front of the man, the kid with a rictus grin, as sneering at the old man. Others say that you can’t assume that was a sneer; maybe the kid just didn’t know what to do.

In any case, the Catholic school has apologized for its students’ action, and the mayor of their hometown has denounced them. [2] The boys were in town for the March For Life. The video is being widely cited as an example of the Trumpification of Christianity, and connected to the Karen Pence school controversy as yet another example of why conservative Christianity is an evil that must be driven from the precincts of the decent.

It is possible that the Catholic boys were complete asses. My initial judgment was that they certainly were that. You don’t treat a peaceful elderly person like this. Even if they thought he was wrong, those boys owed him respect. Yes, the old man approached them, but they could and should have handled him with respect. They come off as bullies.

But then I watched more clips, showing the greater context of the incident. It is not as simple as it has been portrayed. Below is a more complete video account of what happened. In it, one of the Catholic boys is overheard asking, “Does anybody know what he’s doing? Does anybody know what’s going on here.”

And, in it, one of the Indians with Phillips shouts: “White people, go back to Europe. This is not your land.” He curses the students with f-bombs (video is NSFW). He goes on: “You’re being a white man about it. That’s all you know how to do.”

You didn’t see that in the news reporting, did you?

Then, at the 4:40 mark, members of an insane black radical cult called the Black Hebrews (I remember them from my DC days) starts ranting at the boys about whites and sodomy, and says that “your president is a homosexual.” He makes fun of Christian civilization, saying: “You give faggots rights!”

Watch it all here:

The online mob is starting to doxx those Catholic boys. One of them sent this to a local news channel (forgive my formatting problem; just read the text):

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#1 Comment By MIkeS On January 22, 2019 @ 11:13 am

Just when I think that Trump and the Republicans need to go, due to incompetence, something like this pulls me back. It reveals the ideology underlying the other side. Really sick and hostile people. Republicans may not be terribly competent but at least they are not hostile toward normal people.

#2 Comment By Elijah On January 22, 2019 @ 11:29 am

The biggest lesson from this entire kerfuffle: Twitter is a black hole. I don’t see anything good coming from it with the possible exception of skin care tips.

#3 Comment By Rusty On January 22, 2019 @ 11:29 am

IMHO, there is a single element that turned this incident into What It Became (binary, polarizing) rather than What It Actually Was (nuanced, complex, human); the condensed symbol of a bunch of red MAGA hats.

#4 Comment By grumpy realist On January 22, 2019 @ 12:08 pm

This is an offence….

This is a retaliation for the offence….

This is a retaliation for the retaliation for the offence….

This is (a retaliation for)**3 the offence…

….welcome to the Holy Land. (Is that what you really want the US to turn into?)

Maybe we didn’t all go around with chips on our shoulders looking for things to be offended by…?

(I’m quite sure that my comment will be responded to by at least one commentator along the lines of “but our self-defence is right and honorable and good and yours is evil and horrible and bad!)

#5 Comment By Jacquelynn Bourdeau On January 22, 2019 @ 12:59 pm

I am very disappointed in your initial reaction condemning the Covington Catholic boys. You’re a seasoned journalist. Didn’t your instincts tell you, “I smell a rat,” and caution you to reserve judgment instead of piling on in a rush to judgment? Phil Lawler got it right. Church Militant got it right. Gus Lloyd got it right. Teresa Tomeo got it right. I think you owe more of a personal apology than you expressed in this blogpost. Your reporting and analysis is very respected. You are very proud of your million+ followers. That alone, realizing the immense damage to which you had the potential of contributing should have stopped you from jumping the gun on this.

[NFR: This is just bizarre. If I hadn’t told you in this post that I retweeted Robbie George’s condemnation, you wouldn’t have known about it. It was out there for only a few hours before I wrote a very long post explaining that the received narrative (which had been out for a few hours) was wrong. I was wrong to retweet, but I think your reaction is disproportionate. I have vastly more readers of this blog than I have followers on Twitter. The first thing I wrote about this event was to do my part to expose the initial narrative as false. — RD]

#6 Comment By james On January 22, 2019 @ 1:37 pm

I have seen all the videos, but have no real way to determine who was right or wrong unless I had been at the scene. My guess is that most of the participants could have behaved a bit better. However, I can say conclusively that this is one more conclusive proof that social media is hastening the death of civilized society.

#7 Comment By willy On January 22, 2019 @ 2:25 pm

The school wasted no time throwing their kids under the bus. Facts before acts!! Pathetic!!!!