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The Covington Catholic Controversy Shows What’s Wrong with Twitter, and Right with America

The Covington Catholic Controversy Shows What’s Wrong with Twitter, and Right with America

January 22, 2019 9:27 pm1 comment

“The next morning I awoke at eight o’clock and turned on the TV, and watched as my beloved country lost its goddamn mind.”

– Lewis Black

It was a moment made for viral video. White catholic school prep boys in Make America Great Again hats. Black Hebrew Israelite protesters. Native American demonstrators.

And of course, covered at all angles by video, every person with an internet connection and a twitter account could offer their expert, completely unbiased interpretation of what happened, who was at fault, and what this really says about America today.

Here’s what it really says about America today, and in many ways, about people everywhere. That people will believe what they want to believe. That people will rush to judgment without evidence, especially if their interpretation of events reinforces a preconceived narrative. That people will bully, threaten and intimidate everyone from comedian @nachosarah to the brother of the boy who was mistakenly thought to be there. That people will not change their minds about the issues, even if they later issue retractions about the facts.

What I see is a slightly different picture. I see Americans with radically different perspectives and histories and cultures coming together in one place and exchanging ideas peacefully. No punches were thrown. No one was shoved. No one was removed from the scene, the cops didn’t need to be called in, no one was expelled. Words and taunts may have been thrown, but every party involved was strong and resolute in their handling of them. Nathan Phillips and his fellow protesters, Nick Sandmann and his fellow high school students, and the Black Hebrew Israelites had more composure and maturity between the lot of them than a stark raving mad Twitter mob.

We live in a moment where the media has such a control over the narrative that we forget the exceptional time we live in—a time of peace. A time where radically different ideas can occupy a public square without violence, where we get upset at how angry Twitter is while forgetting how safe the Internet is as a forum for disputes compared to the historical alternative, and where a Native American protest song has the potential to reach white boys from suburban Kentucky, and maybe (if you watch the video on silent) even have affected them in a unifying, positive way.

I hope that all the people being bullied today are safe, and this Fifteen Minutes of Hate will pass for everyone involved. But in the meantime, Americans need to do a little less judging of others and a little more introspection. If you were there, what would you have done? For the people who say they would have punched [insert target of choice] in the face, what kind of a person does that make you?

1 Comment

  • Very thoughtful. We have become so locked in a polarizing narrative of division and mistrust that we fail to recognize healthy and rational debate when we see it. The knee jerk conclusion that we were witnessing an example of division and hate is no less unfortunate than the mindless conclusion that anybody wearing a MAGA hat is by definition a white nationalist.