I have very conflicted feelings on writing a piece about the Covington Catholic boys and the smear campaign launched against them. I’m conflicted because the way I see it, this incident is entirely unworthy of this level of media attention. It was merely a bunch of rowdy high school boys being typical rowdy high school boys on a class trip. Nothing worth the level of scrutiny and attention it has received. But, due to the climate we live in, where our primary method of communication is through small bites of words and video on Twitter that nearly always fails to provide full context, this debacle has continued. And I feel restless to share my view on the issue.
Mob Mentality: The internet has shown time and time again how quick they are to pounce on any scapegoat they can find to help push their agenda. Whether it’s a celebrity, politician, businessman, professor, and now a high schooler, the social media mob holds back no punches in its attempts to identify and destroy the lives of any individuals who are perceived to have done something out of line with the narrative the mob pushes. And this mob isn’t held to any standards of accuracy or responsibility, enabling it to attack without first searching for the facts and context of the situation. Is it the new normal that we blast the pictures and names of children out to the internet to vilify them because we disagree with them? Do we not care to protect our youth from the threats of violence that come with being unjustly smeared online?
Religious Education: Before the real context of the story came out, I was unnerved at how the mob had turned their attack from an isolated group of students to religious schooling as a whole. They made a quick generalization from what seemed to be one incident to paint this picture of a vast country filled with bigoted white boys who go to religious private schools and are raised and taught to support Trump and his so-called racist following blindly. And I was disappointed because, as a faithful student at an all-male high school myself, I know that this is an unfair stereotype to place on us. It’s scary to see the attack on religious values that are being flung by the Left. How much more vilification can we take?
Aggression?: After a more complete picture of the incident came out, I was shocked that the mob refused to back down. They usually issue some half-assed apology and quietly move on to their next crazy story. However, in this case, even when video evidence clearly showed that these students were unfairly provoked by racist adults who were acting irresponsibly, the smear campaign unabashedly continued. Why? Because apparently a smirk is considered an aggression. Standing still when a man walks up to you banging a large drum inches from your face is considered aggression. Is what occurred actually aggressive? Did these boys’ actions really necessitate your continued attacks?
The Double Standard: After watching the various clips of the incident, it was clear that what I was being told on social media was the exact opposite of what was going on. I saw that a group of Black Israelite protesters was calling high school boys, “crackers,” “incest babies,” and “future school shooters,” because of the color of their skin. I also saw a Native American walk up to the group of schoolboys yelling that all white people should return to Europe. However, not once did I see the group of boys say anything racist to the aggressors that were apparently trying to provoke a reaction out of them. In fact, I felt like these students were acting as subdued as can be expected given the circumstances. Yet the mob has issued a double standard for anyone on the right. The offensive words flung at these students aren’t an issue because the students are white males who support our president. Meanwhile, the mob has to intentionally misconstrue and twist every single movement of these students to catch them and prove their narrative to be correct.
I can go on with many disgusting aspects of the smear campaign issued against these boys. This attack is filled to the core with hatred towards religion, towards white males, and towards the Republican party. It is a vicious attempt to stereotype a significant portion of our population. But it’s an attack that’s becoming more and more common against the people and values of America’s Right.
What really struck a chord with me as the story unfolded was how easily it could have been me standing there on the steps of Lincoln Memorial. I attend an all-boys religious high school with a large Trump supporting contingent and a lot of school spirit. We’ve taken trips to Washington DC before. What would have happened if it were us that day on the steps of Lincoln Memorial? How would we have responded if confronted by those groups? Do we have to be worried that our names and faces could be plastered across the internet for something in which we weren’t at fault? In this day in age, we have created a society where one wrong step, or even one wobbly stepped after being pushed, can ruin someone. We have to protect ourselves from falling victim of a smear campaign similar to the one against the Covington boys. We must continue to bring awareness to racism of all forms against all groups and must not rush to judgment against our peers and countrymen. Hopefully, the mob will move on to some other ridiculous target and these boys’ lives can return to the way they were. But, until then, we must all do our part to stand up against the mob and stand by those who are unfairly attacked and slandered.