Child Abuse by the Anti-Bullying Hard Left

by Heather Robinson

I’ve debated whether or not to write about the brouhaha between the Covington boys and the Native American elder and the black Israelites, and the subsequent media frenzy. But if I don’t write something, I will be as disgusted with myself as I am with a good portion of the adults in this country.

We are living at a time of real threat to free speech and expression. Because of the casual dehumanization of Americans who support this President, and the distortion of what it means to support him, many people are afraid to say they do by, say, wearing a hat, because others – who decline to have a civil conversation, for instance, and perhaps ask the wearer nicely what that hat means to him or her – instead automatically label him/her a “racist.”

And so, the list of what it is now acceptable to wear, or verbalize, narrows in America. (I write this post as a registered independent, who didn’t vote for Donald Trump. But even the fact that I feel the need to issue that disclaimer says a lot).

I’ve not written any tirades against the PC mobs because, although I dislike the hypocrisy of intolerant attacks coming from elements of the “against hate” left,  I’ve thought of all this as a kind of wave that will break in time, affecting the landscape, but not something that threatens the fabric and foundation of our country.

As of this week I’m not so certain.

When a broad swath of adult journalists and commentators can publicly pile on a 16-year-old boy, and are unembarrassed, for instance, to name call him and to fantasize, in writing, about violence toward him, I do believe we may be at the precipice of a cultural revolution of sorts, in which otherwise good people who believe they are acting “against hate” have lost any perspective.

This week we saw a national disgrace, in which many members of elite media ended up slandering a minor, leaving him, his family, his teenage classmates and their school – which had to be closed due to threats – vulnerable to a mob of “adults” whipped up by a truncated, propagandistic, out of context video clip.

The trigger was a video clip that emerged last weekend giving an inaccurate impression that high school students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, who were in Washington DC on a school trip to attend the March for Life, were harassing a Native American man, Nathan Phillips, after the event.

I won’t analyze the much-discussed video itself, the longer, more complete version of which absolves Nick Sandmann and his classmates of anything other than normal, spirited, if rowdy, teenage enthusiasm. Phillips approached the boys, not the other way around, and the boys did not say or do anything racist or threatening, even in the face of protracted insults and arguable provocation from more than one grown man beforehand. It’s important to know what actually happened, because the facts matter. But important as these facts are, they are not what matters most.

Most important to recognize is these were kids, and they were publicly attacked in the aftermath of this video’s release, on a national stage, by adults, including some prominent, respectable, successful adults who occupy positions of real privilege as opinion-influencers in our society.

In a civilized society, in a society that has not lost its way, adults do not provoke or attack minors, physically or verbally. To do so is child abuse – something which the enlightened left in this country, despite its purported concern over bullying – does not see its participation in this past week.

There were so many examples of manipulative bullying, a few of which veered into abuse, of this boy on the part of the “elite” media I don’t know where to begin. A handful of the worst were Vanity Fair contributor and “New York Times bestselling author” Kurt Eichenwald’s decision to publish on his Twitter account close-ups of these teenage boys’ faces (presumably so they could be shamed or harassed, or at the very least, disdained); to CNN contributor Reza Aslan’s disgusting tweet about handsome Covington teen Nick Sandmann’s “punchable” face; to HBO’s Bill Maher’s designation of Sandmann as a “little prick” and his patently false assertion the Sandmann “[stuck] his face in this elderly man’s” (in fact, the video plainly shows the opposite, that the elderly man approached Sandmann and moved his face – and his drum – into the boy’s face); to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie’s ridiculous Today show interview of Sandmann, in which she asked him if he could understand that there was “something aggressive about just standing there.”

Last I checked, national media didn’t even publish the names of minors being charged with crimes in order to protect their privacy and futures. When did it become all right to publish the name and image of a minor, along with jokes about physically assaulting him, to engage in an orgy of disgust and hatred? This was the public dehumanizing of a minor by adults.

“It was very manipulative of the media to get people’s eyeballs on the story at the expense of a child,” said Manhattan child psychiatrist Will Winter, M.D., who noted that he considers releasing information about a minor for purposes of shaming and condemning him to be “child abuse.”

Winter, who specializes in helping children grappling with identity issues, stressed that the negative effects on a minor of broad scale public attacks at a vulnerable time of identity formation could be significant.

“This is character assassination of a minor,” said Winter. “What do we have in our lives? Our name. When you are that age, that’s all you have, you don’t even have money, you are just starting out … You are taking a 16-year-old kid and making him infamous.”

Winter added his assessment that from an ethical perspective, the media, like medical professionals, owe minors special consideration.

“When it comes to underage people, ‘First, do no harm’ should be considered, not just for doctors,” Winter said. “The irony is, the media were reporting and commenting on news that supposedly had some kind of moral implication, and they themselves were acting immorally. The ends do not justify the means.”

Much as I’m disturbed to think of the toll on Sandmann, his family, his friends, and his community of these attacks, I am comforted that, judging from the Guthrie interview, he seems to be an emotionally sturdy and ethical young man, as well as a poised, intelligent one. One chaperone from his school who was interviewed recently said, “Nick Sandmann had the courage to look this man in the face and diffuse the situation by not reacting.”

For the record, here is part of Sandmann’s statement about the incident. He says he smiled at the protestor at one point when Phillips moved into his personal space and banged a drum inches from his face “because I wanted him to know I was not going to become angry, intimidated, or provoked into a larger confrontation.”

Perhaps what so angered some commentators and journalists about Sandmann’s face is that this boy, at age 16, did not lash out, back down, or cower but, when a grown man beat a drum intrusively in his face, peacefully stood his ground like a man – and so unlike the “men” of Twitter, many of whom spend their days avoiding face-to-face interaction, much less confrontation, in favor of the bickering, sniping, and effete cruelty of those who possess no real backbone. Rather than having real conversations, much less peaceful confrontations, this week, the men of Twitter attacked a child from behind the comfort of their computers.

Whereas Nick Sandmann, 16, stood his ground in the real world – something many of the “men” – and women – of Twitter will probably never have the strength of character to do.

I say let’s hear it for the boy.