Falsehood flew on Friday as pundits, politicians, priests, and the press joined together to smear a group of boys from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. They seized upon a brief video clip filmed at the National Mall, which showed a Native American activist banging a drum in the face of a teenage student, who endured the confrontation in stillness with an alternately perplexed and bemused smile on his face. The defamers framed the narrative: These teenage boys, many of whom wore hats that read, “Make America Great Again,” had surrounded the peaceful Native American elder Nathan Phillips to taunt and threaten and smirk at him.
A great many adults owe the Covington boys an apology. Few have proffered one, and most have doubled down on their calumny. Anne Helen Petersen, the senior culture writer for Buzzfeed, excused her libel by calling on readers to “recognize why the sight of that face caused a visceral reaction in so many.” The teenager is odious, she implies, because he is a white boy. The unrepentant Fr. Martin calls the scandal a “teachable moment.” If the incident offers any lesson at all, it is that our culture has become inverted: journalists peddle lies; officeholders vilify their constituents; clerics abandon their flocks to wolves.
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