Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Kids Are Not Alright, Con't

Jaw Willis at GQ points out that the MAGA boys at Covington Catholic knew all along they were going to get away with what they did on Friday, to the point of having Donald Trump weigh in on their defense, because systemic white privilege means never having to be sorry.

From the moment Nick Sandmann planted himself in front of Nathan Phillips, surrounded by dancing, whooping Covington Catholic students who found the elderly drummer's very existence to be at once amusing and worthy of their scorn, the only thing more inevitable than the initial outrage was the tsunami of counter-outrage directed at anyone who had the audacity to be mad that MAGA-hat-wearing teenagers would mock a Vietnam War veteran. The campaign, which laundered Sandmann's statement through the usual sequence of right-win media outlets, ended as all defenses of bigotry cloaked as even-handed appeals to civility do: with a pronouncement of judgment from the man who made his hat famous.

The speed with which Sandmann was able to marshal his posse of defenders, it seems, was not purely a product of the moral weight of his position. According to the Louisville Courier Journal, as video of the boys' leering faces raced across the Internet, Sandmann's family retained the services of RunSwitch PR, a Louisville-based media relations firm. (One of its founding partners is a longtime Republican operative, and currently serves as a conservative op-ed writer for the paper.) A spokesperson explained that the company is now "working with the family to ensure an accurate recounting of events."

None of the excuses made on behalf of these kids are capable of withstanding the slightest bit of intellectually-honest scrutiny. The presence of a few Black Israelites—a group that any resident of a major city learned long ago to ignore—has no bearing on whether it is acceptable for white kids to chant nationalist slogans at, of all people, a Native man. (Assertions to the contrary also betray a troubling tendency to conflate members of minority groups, as if all brown people are indistinguishable threats.) Nor do any of the purported "extended clips," disseminated by conservative journalists as if they were mini-Zapruder films, exonerate Sandmann and his friends. Some of them even serve as more damning indictments of the students' conduct.

Nevertheless, the Covington boys have already secured many of the hand-wringing statements of remorse they sought—especially from the pundit class, for whom enduring bad-faith accusations of "BIASED" and "FAKE NEWS" is more humiliating than kowtowing to the people who would make them. As usual, no one in America is more entitled to a presumption of innocence than white people.

Among the privileged, eliciting this sort of both-sides apologia is a tried-and-true method of evading responsibility for their actions. Also consider, though, the role of talking heads like Tucker Carlson, who reflexively crafted exculpatory narratives of their own and disseminated them to an online army of culture warriors. Consider the influence of Republican politicians, for whom defending anyone who shares their worldview—and obeying marching orders issued by the aforementioned talking heads—is now so important that their usual performative respect for troops disappeared altogether. Consider the invitations the kids have already received to visit President Trump at the White House this week, and the TODAY Show interview that will air first thing Wednesday. Consider the fact that this family was able to hire a professional crisis management team to fight this battle, and that they even knew such a thing existed in the first place.

And yes, you read this right, the consequences of their actions, thanks to the parents of this asshole immediately contacting a GOP PR firm, the payoff for being a racist sack of garbage to a Native American vet in a viral video in America in 2019 is the reward of a White house invitation and a Today Show softball interview with Savannah Guthrie.

Congrats, Generation Z.  Put on your MAGA hats and break out those Go Pro cameras and iPhones, because you're all going to be famous for white supremacy.  Just go out there and shoot and maim and harm us, because the lesson here is you'll never have to pay the piper for it.

Until, of course, the day you do.

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