Posted by Curt on 20 January, 2019 at 4:27 pm. 3 comments already!

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The news story of the Catholic high school students in MAGA hats who were captured on video supposedly harassing a Native American Vietnam vet was a tale I ignored till now. As presented, it seemed relatively trivial to me—a group of teens acting like jerks. What’s more, I tend to follow the 48-hour rule on stories like that, because so many turn out to be fake or exaggerated.

Since then, it’s come out that the story was an excellent example of Fake News Tweaked to Advance the Narrative.



I’m not going to go into all the Byzantine details, but you can read them (and watch videos) hereherehereherehere, and at plenty of other sites.

There are sites and people who ran the original story and have since issued corrections or retractions, but so far those sites do not include the WaPo, which has made a big big deal of the story. Even as I write these words the comments there are overwhelmingly in condemnation of the teens based on the original propaganda story, despite a few attempts in the comments by others to give the context and links to the corrective videos (those people are being called paid trolls or alt-right members).

Way too many people reporting this sort of thing and making it go viral on Twitter are uninterested in getting the facts right or telling the truth. They know from previous experience that a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on. They count on it, and they know that most of the people ranting and raving about this and wanting to punch that Covington kid in the mouth and ruin his life will never, never ever, believe that the first story wasn’t the real story.

No surprise there. A great many of these bigotry stories are not only false, but they are inversions of the truth. Too many times the offense is actually self-inflicted and the so-called victim is actually the one who (for example) wrote the offending word or drew the offending graphic. And although a video would seem far less easy to fake (although with advancing technology it will become more and more easy to do so, and harder and harder to tell fake from real), it can be rather easily done with clever editing and attention to setting up certain expectations and interpretations.

Here are a few of the details (follow any or all of those previous links to find plenty more):

The teen is not smirking in this clip, and Phillips [the Native American who was supposedly harassed] has an entourage with cameras. One of the Native activists argues with a Covington teen, who argues back. This and other clips have shown the Indian activists racially taunting the teens, saying things like ‘go back to Europe.’ Phillips has claimed that the teens were chanting ‘build the wall!,’ but that isn’t in any of the videos that circulated Saturday. Based on what can actually be seen and heard, it’s looks as if Phillips and his crew sought out Catholic teenagers and tried to make them uncomfortable. And of course, they recorded it…

…[S]o far, there’s no evidence to support that scenario [that the teen students were the racists], only the words of Phillips and his associates. That hasn’t stopped blue-checkmark media figures like former CNN blatherskite Reza Aslan from not only branding the teens as racists but in Aslan’s case musing about inflicting violence on them:

https://twitter.com/rezaaslan/status/1086806539552284672

A great deal of hatred has been directed at these kids, and all of this was going on more or less at the same time that the Buzzfeed story about Trump asking Cohen to lie to Congress was being exposed as a whole lot of hooey.

Several things made the Covington story absolutely irresistible to the left. The kids were white (most of them; not all, but the featured ones were). They were male. Some were wearing MAGA hats. They were Catholic. And they were returning from an anti-abortion rally. They were supposedly (according to Phillips, although nowhere in any video has any corroboration surfaced for his claim) chanting that we should build the wall. A perfect storm of terribleness on the part of the teens, right?

These boys weren’t accused of drunken rape, like Brett Kavanaugh and his teen Catholic school buddies. But what we are seeing is exactly the same venomous desire to brand and discredit them as nasty soulless thugs, and from similar motives: anti-white, anti-right, anti-male, anti-Catholic, anti-religion, anti-Trump.

One of the sadder things about this particular incident is that many on the right, as well as the boys’ Catholic school, jumped on the leftist bandwagon—at least to a certain extent. And some jumped on it to a greater extent and have yet (at least, as of this writing) to retract their words.

One of the latter group is Nicholas Frankovitch of National Review. Here is his Twitter feed linking to his terrible article at NR—an article which has very suddenly disappeared. I had read it just a little while ago, but when I checked back just now to link to it, it’s disappeared with no explanation. Maybe by the time I publish this piece, even his Twitter feed will have changed:

https://twitter.com/NFrankovich/status/1086969802437156865

One person who did apologize, and quite profusely, was Scott Adams. I’m embedding his video in case you’re interested in watching. As Adams says, “This is fake news that actually damages the lives of children.” What I find especially interesting—and what I haven’t yet heard Adams explain—is how he, of all people, was originally among those taken in by this story:

When Orwell wrote his masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four, one of his brilliant innovations was the telescreen, a way for the government to spy on its people twenty-four hours a day by placing a sort of reverse-TV in all homes and monitoring inhabitants for any un-PC actions or utterances. In the world of his novel (based on a futuristic view of the Communist regimes of the day with which Orwell was familiar), the telescreen’s ubiquity was combined with the always-existing possibility of being informed on by neighbors and relatives and supposed friends. In a Communist totalitarian dictatorship, you could trust no one. And of course, all media were organs of the state.

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