Hypocrisy is defined as the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. Nowhere has that been more vividly on display in recent days than in the faux outrage expressed by the sanctimonious thought police of the liberal left and their water carriers in the mainstream media.
It’s now been several days since the “incident” that actually wasn’t. Sixty-four-year-old Nathan Phillips strode into a crowd and played a drum within an inch or two of high school junior Nick Sandmann’s face, who continued to stand where he had already been standing peacefully a moment prior and then Nick smiled. Within just a few hours of this video being posted, along with the intentionally false narrative that Nick and his fellow Covington Catholic classmates were racists, the negative aspects of our culture’s viral video capabilities and social media discourse were made manifest.
The real story here, the real takeaway from this latest manufactured controversy, is not anything done by Nick or even Mr. Phillips. It is the hysterical and cruel reaction by thousands that included individuals hiding anonymously behind computer keyboards, celebrities, politicians and so-called journalists.
Young high school students were slandered and disparaged in the harshest and most vile terms possible. Their young lives were threatened. After two years of creating caricatures of our president and all who support him, after many more years of unfounded and unfair attacks on the character of good people who support life and traditional values, we find ourselves now at this precarious cultural moment in time.
What has become abundantly clear is that there are none more intolerant than those who demand tolerance from others. There are none so bigoted and prejudiced as those who claim to stand for equality while proudly, and loudly, hating millions of their fellow Americans. Sadly, many media outlets, in a tabloid-like effort to remain relevant, sensationalize news, even while a story is still developing and, as a result, have lost any semblance of objectivity or attempt at veracity.
While journalism at its best keeps government officials accountable to the public and contributes to an informed society, journalism at its worst has completely destroyed reputations and incited violence. The advent of social media, a factor in all our lives that has now become ubiquitous, has made this unfortunate trend all the more powerful and all the more dangerous.
In a world where we have a wealth of information at our fingertips, we have increasingly little thoughtfulness, discernment or wisdom.
Lazy journalists and other, usually self-proclaimed, thought leaders, repeatedly weigh in on every breaking story with uncorroborated claims, innuendo and omission of material facts. Far too many Americans eagerly follow along, seemingly anxious to be angry about some perceived slight. Even some who claim to hold conservative principles are quick to pile on.
One could point out the hypocrisy of the mainstream media and liberal social media posts for not demonstrating a fraction of this outrage over earlier video evidence of vulgar, angry and overtly racist commentary directed at the Covington Catholic students and others around them. The bigots who spewed those comments were well documented, but didn’t seem to elicit much more than a collective yawn from those who were intent on finding fault only in those they despise … a group of young, white, Catholic males from Kentucky who were assumed, based on their attire, to be in support of President Trump.
Sadly, however, pointing out the hypocrisy of the left has become an exercise in futility. It is akin to discussing the wetness of water. Hypocrisy and double standards are a foundational principle and core value of the left. The political liberalism that conservatives used to disagree with, but could sometimes find common ground with for the greater good, no longer seems to exist.
In its place is an ever growing hard-left radicalism that seeks only to tear down, never to build up. This is a mindset that seems content to foment constant controversy and discord between Americans and rejects any thought of this being a free country where individuals are free to disagree in a civil manner and live together peacefully.
Having arrived at this regrettable moment in the history of our culture, what is the remedy? The continuing attacks by many upon the Covington Catholic students, even in light of the more complete video evidence we now have, make me suspect that no lasting lessons have been learned. I fear there will be little intent by those who launched the original attacks to be better next time.
Perhaps, in an ironic twist, the greatest lesson will likely be learned by this generation of Covington Catholic High School students. Seeing first-hand the damage that this propaganda effort has caused, perhaps their generation will vow to return to the standards of journalism and public discourse that we once knew. Until that time, it is incumbent upon the rest of us not to feed this beast.
Until we are able to show a little more genuine caring for one another, and a little less digital vitriol, the events that played out in Washington, D.C., will be repeated again and again and again. Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, these are the thoughts that should occupy our minds. We must not let those who would divide us cause us to forget this fundamental fact: We are Americans, and our unity — not incited division — is worth fighting for.
United we stand. Divided we fall.
• Matt Bevin is governor of Kentucky.