Democrats

The Art of The Disavowal


- January 21st, 2019
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Prior to the Women’s March this year, controversy arose over its leaders’ relationships with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Meghan McCain pressed Tamika Mallory on “The View” last week, insinuating latent anti-Semitism because of this relationship with Farrakhan.

McCain held Mallory’s feet to the fire, pressing that she condemn Farrakhan for likening Jews to termites that promote homosexuality. She did not disavow. The conversation basically went like this:

Mallory: We did not make those remarks.

McCain: But you’re associating with a man who does publicly.

Mallory: What I will say to you is that I don’t agree with many of Minister Farrakhan’s statements.

McCain: Do you condemn them?

Mallory: I don’t agree.

McCain: But you won’t condemn it.

Mallory: No, to be very clear, it’s not my language. It’s not how I speak, it’s not how I organize . . . I should never be judged through the lens of a man.

Many conservatives on Twitter continue to take shots at the Women’s March for its leaders’ entanglements. But as it stands now, they haven’t suffered much. News coverage for the march was generally positive as usual. No one lost their livelihood over the claims, and it is entirely likely that the march will go on uninhibited again next year.

The March for Life, on the other hand, usually doesn’t make headlines. This year, video footage of an interaction between Covington Catholic High School students (in D.C. as part of a broad pro-life Catholic contingent) and a Native American drummer (there for the first-ever D.C. Indigenous People’s March) set the internet aflame, drawing harsh attention to the pro-life march for reasons unrelated to the movement itself.

The predominant narrative is just about summed up in a GQ headline: “MAGA-Hatted Teens Harass Native Americans at the Indigenous Peoples March in D.C.” The article goes on:

Multiple videos have surfaced since Friday showing a group of teenage boys crowded around attendants of the Indigenous Peoples March. In the footage of the encounter, many of the boys are wearing Make America Great Again hats, and can be seen laughing at and imitating a Native drummer. One boy even stands directly in front of the drummer, as close as he can get, staring the man down for several minutes.

Suffice it to say this “journalist” and many others who piled on after him used extreme poetic license in their interpretation of what happened between younger and elder. Here is the extended cut and here is video taken from outside the crowd. See for yourself.

Timothy Meads at Town Hall breaks the situation down accurately. The Catholic boys did nothing wrong.

No matter. Those on the political Left predictably, and very quickly, descended into hysteria, fantasizing about the punchability of the child’s face in the video. They doxxed the child in the video, releasing his parent’s address, school information, and information about the college he plans to attend. Several sassy pundettes went on TV and admonished the boys for their “harassment” of Nathan Phillips. Even our beloved Stormy Daniels called out the “disgusting punks” for their “vileness.”

Irony is lost.

But these sassy ladies were not limited to liberals! Conservatism, Inc. chimed in quickly and predictably. Bill Kristol responded true to form (and deleted the tweet later without apology): “If some kid wearing a McCain 2008 hat would have been filmed behaving this way John McCain would have already called to apologize. And he would have used the occasion to remind his supporters that they should treat others with respect. Will Trump do anything like this?” National Review wasted no time in a publishing (and later deleting) an article by Nicholas Frankovich titled “The Covington Students Might As Well Have Spit on the Cross.”

The March For Life disavowed the Covington boys and said they wouldn’t be allowed back at the March before later quietly deleting the tweet. Even the Diocese of Covington released a statement of condemnation:

We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.

The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.

The Left has mastered the art of the disavowal, which is to say they disavow nothing left of their own constantly moving goalpost of woke sensibility. Or nothing at all, for that matter. In other words, they set the cultural terms of acceptable behavior and choose if and when they will live up to their own rules. In polite society, you could present yourself as an avowed Communist or [insert anything-but-American identity group] nationalist publicly, proudly, and face no consequences or criticism from even moderate Democrats.

That is power. By refusing to place limits on how far left the Overton Window can extend, they ensure that the culture keeps moving in that direction. It’s Alinskyite genius, really. On the other hand, many conservatives live in a world of childlike delusion, believing—in slavish subservience to their self-anointed superiors—that by publicly rooting out real and imagined bigotry within their own ranks, they might gain the popular approval of the masses that they crave and suppose is all that stands between them and a conservative renaissance.

How sadly mistaken the average, polite conservative is! In general, this behavior probably comes from a place of polite conscientiousness. Victimhood is generally pitiable. As a matter of faith, nice Christian people take pity on the pitiable. Despite the fact that victimhood has become a social currency, people of good will want to believe even wolves in sheep’s clothing cashing in on compassion.

Moreover, nice Christian people hold out hope for reciprocity, imagining that “if we call out our bigots, they will disavow theirs, too!” When it never happens that way, they would rather turn the other cheek and bear the cross of humiliation than get their hands dirty in holding their enemies to account. “If we are nice, then they will be too” is the kind of naïve mirror-imaging that makes conservatives (and Christians) lose in perpetuity.

Journalists, cultural figures, and many more random blue-checkmarks are trying to ruin a young man’s life because of a smirk. Their insecurity knows no bounds. No disavowal, no punishment short of utter personal annihilation will satisfy.

Practically, what better way is there to ensure good parents do not allow their children to come to D.C. for the pro-life march in the future? Even pro-life activists and the Catholic Church will shame them publicly for any perceived misstep. The Left wins again, and Conservatism, Inc. is complicit. Perhaps nice, Christian conservatives should be reminded that harmlessness is not a virtue. The fact that so many were so eager to disavow Covington Catholic is embarrassing, weak, and frankly bizarre. Disingenuous apologies emerging ex post facto ring hollow.

Catholic Twitter’s response was especially infuriating. Many priests and laypeople joined the chorus of baying journalists in the demand that these young men’s lives be ruined. As a devout Catholic, I wonder how many more young boys must be victimized on the altar of Catholic self-preservation before something changes. Catholic boys, failed again by their shepherds! This is an old story. Imagine if Catholics were as quick to denounce rampant pedophilia and sexual abuse as they are to disavow young men of their own flock who were the victims of a smear campaign carried out by the same media that champions abortion. The irony would be amusing if it weren’t so demoralizing.

Being “nice” will not stop insatiable jackals from coming for your children. Disavowing your children will not prevent jackals from coming for you. If you know so little of honor that you would preemptively feed children to jackals in order to keep up appearances, you deserve whatever comes your way.

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Photo Credit: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

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