Leave the Kid Alone
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | January 24, 2019
The media and social networks exploded in haste, exploiting a child to promote their hateful agenda. We need to stop this insanity, come together as a nation, and build a better nation.
We watched this week in the exaggerated theater of social media and over vigilant media the unthinkable attack on a minor. A smirk, a hat, and a headline were all that was needed. Outrage filled hearts, hatred spilt into insults, overreaching judgments evolved into violent threats. Last Saturday, I responded the same as many of the uniformed, “rich bigoted white kid.” As, the message unfolded and the back drop unfurled, I realized my bias and ridiculous conclusion. I don’t know what occurred in the hearts and minds of these young high school students on a field trip to the Lincoln memorial. Most likely, the harassing of a child following the incident was far more harmful and distasteful than what prompted the media storm from a short video of a smirking kid, wearing a MAGA hat, standing face to face with Nathan Phillips.
I’m not arguing that the Covington students were not disrespectful, nor would I be surprised if teenagers, away from home, would miss the richness of a culture outside of their own protected environments. Heck, most teenage boys still have their underwear washed and folded by their mommies. Yet, many expect this group of boys, being heckled for their hat donning political statement to act with the dignity and wisdom that seems to even elude our precious politicians—on both sides of the isle.
"Yet, many expect this group of boys, being heckled for their hat donning political statement to act with the dignity and wisdom that seems to even elude our precious politicians—on both sides of the isle."
A young man caught in a political stand-off, for a position he probably only vaguely understands, that lasted a few minutes, while insults are being hurled at him and his group, is criticized more than the politicians for the political stand-off that has continued over a month, leaving hundreds of thousands of federal workers without pay and hurting the entire nation.
When you take a group of students from Kentucky, attending a private Catholic school and drop them into the political quagmire of a shut-down government, we should not be astonished that an out-of-the-ordinary incident occurred. Perhaps, an uncomfortable smirk during this fast moving, and potentially dangerous collision was fairly mild and hardly worth a second glance.
In our vigilance to deem the ‘other’ party the enemy, we have become the assailant. We self-righteously proclaim to protect the rights of others, showing empathy towards those affected by environmental influences beyond their control, and then lower the gavel on a child for the political statement printed on his hat. These boys came from a state that overwhelmingly supported Trump in the 2016 election. They proudly wore hats that more likely advertised their state of origin than any in depth political conversion.
Has the nation’s response took time to consider the impact on the emotional development of the involved parties? Do we show the same outrage when a student disrespects a teacher or a police officer? Or is disrespect only despicable when wearing an ugly red hat?
We don’t know the hearts and minds of these young men. We don’t know the quality or paucity of teaching they received from their parents, school and community. They encountered scorn for displaying interest in politics and less then praiseworthy response to a very difficult situation. I believe we need more interest in the issues rather than the overwhelming indifference that so easily besets our youth.
Social media and the news, much to the pleasure of the propaganda machine in Russia, further the divide, creating more of an us against them attitude in this fractured political climate. Until we can start seeing each other as fellow citizens, we will constantly be swayed, with the slightest of evidence, of the wrongness of our adversaries. ‘The Democrats’ are bad. ‘The Republicans’ are evil. Until we see ourselves as Americans, we will continue to elect officials that keep the war alive, unwilling to work together for the betterment of the nation.
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