The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Lessons From an Online Lynching (Why #StandWithCovington Is Going Viral)

Posted on | January 21, 2019 | 2 Comments


One of the basic rules of political journalism is, you don’t have to comment on every controversy that comes along. And you certainly don’t have to rush to become the first to publish such a commentary. What happened over the weekend with a viral video of Catholic school boys confronted by a protester in D.C. should remind us of that rule.

On Friday, students from Covington Catholic School participated in the annual March for Life in Washington. On Saturday, a video clip was posted that claimed to show the students — many of whom were wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats — engaged in harassment of a Native American activist named Nathan Phillips. This clip went viral on Twitter, with a swarm of blue-check pundits excoriating the boys.


For about 24 hours, this Catholic school in the northern Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati was the target of an online outrage mob. Kids were get “doxxed” and their families were being threatened.

Guess what I said about this controversy? Nothing.

It is not my policy to comment on everything that goes viral on the Internet. Every day, controversies like this flare up and burn out without my ever bothering to notice them, because there’s just so much happening in the world that I’d drive myself crazy if I felt obligated to add my two cents to every controversy on the Internet. The #GamerGate controversy, for example, had been raging for weeks before I bothered to pay much attention to the melodrama that started with a tattoo-covered, mentally ill ex-stripper whose real name is Chelsea Van Valkenburg.

When I saw the Covington Catholic controversy start trending Saturday, I glanced at it briefly and just couldn’t make sense of it. My podcasting partner John Hoge’s reaction was similar:

I held off commenting on the Covington Kid v. Native American story this past weekend. The initial video didn’t look good, but it also didn’t make sense to me. I waited for corroborating facts, and none appeared. In fact, the additional raw footage that surfaced has discredited the narrative spun around the original edited version. It now looks to me as if someone used the edited video to tell a lie, and that lie resulted in a social media mob rioting, trying to figuratively burn down the lives of some kids who got in the way of The Narrative.

As so often happens in such cases, it now appears that the liberal media Narrative was almost 180-degrees opposite of the truth. The Covington student has told his side of the story. What happened was that, when the March for Life ended, the students had been told to assemble at the Lincoln Memorial to wait for their buses. The buses were delayed, and as the Catholic students waited, they were harassed by a group of black people nearby. What the Covington students didn’t realize is that, on the same day as the March for Life, there was another event in D.C. — the Indigenous Peoples March. This event was what Nathan Phillips was doing near the Lincoln Memorial when the Covington boys showed up and, apparently, the event also attracted some members of a bizarre cult known as the Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI), who started harassing the Catholic students. Reason‘s Robby Soave reports what happened:

Phillips put himself between the teens and the black nationalists, chanting and drumming as he marched straight into the middle of the group of young people. What followed was several minutes of confusion: The teens couldn’t quite decide whether Phillips was on their side or not, but tentatively joined in his chanting. It’s not at all clear this was intended as an act of mockery rather than solidarity.
One student did not get out of Phillips way as he marched, and gave the man a hard stare and a smile that many have described as creepy. This moment received the most media coverage: The teen has been called the product of a “hate factory” and likened to a school shooter, segregation-era racist, and member of the Ku Klux Klan. I have no idea what he was thinking, but portraying this as an example of obvious, racially-motivated hate is a stretch. Maybe he simply had no idea why this man was drumming in his face, and couldn’t quite figure out the best response? It bears repeating that Phillips approached him, not the other way around.
And that’s all there is to it. Phillips walked away after several minutes, the Black Hebrew Israelites continued to insult the crowd, and nothing else happened.

Kudos to Robby for taking time to watch two hours of video to figure out what actually happened Friday, while everybody else jumped the gun to mischaracterize this encounter as a racist incident, on the basis of a video clip that seems to have been edited to convey that false impression.

The mainstream media — particularly CNN — went all-in to demonize these Catholic school boys as symbols of white supremacy and toxic masculinity when the truth was that they were the ones being subjected to racial harassment, simply for being white. And as Allum Bokhari at Breitbart notes, Twitter’s rules against harassment apparently don’t apply when the targets are white boys from Catholic schools.

The hashtag #StandWithCovington is being used to rally support for these kids, who were unfairly smeared by the online mob.

UPDATE: Legal Insurrection cites the typical media headlines:

  • The New York Times:  “Viral Video Shows Boys in ‘Make America Great Again’ Hats Surround Native Elder”
  • CNN:  “Teens in Make America Great Again hats taunted a Native American elder at the Lincoln Memorial”
  • The Washington Post: “‘It was getting ugly’: Native American drummer speaks on the MAGA-hat-wearing teens who surrounded him”
  • Variety:  “MAGA Hat-Wearing Teens Harassing Native American Elder Spark Condemnation From Hollywood”

Not like there’s a pattern here or anything . . .





2 Responses to “Lessons From an Online Lynching (Why #StandWithCovington Is Going Viral)”

  1. The Covington Boys | Catallaxy Files
    January 21st, 2019 @ 10:47 pm

    […] Not stated above is that the boys were attending an anti-abortion rally in Washington while wearing “Trump 2020” hats. That they are only high school students meant nothing since any symbol will do for a Progressive-Marxist ideologue. If you would like a longer explanation, you can find it here: Lessons From an Online Lynching (Why #StandWithCovington Is Going Viral). […]

  2. Saturday Links | 357 Magnum
    January 26th, 2019 @ 12:13 pm

    […] The Other McCain – Lessons From an Online Lynching (Why #StandWithCovington Is Going Viral). […]