Amy Welborn on the Covington Debacle

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Amy Welborn at her blog Charlotte Was Both has one of the best takes I have seen on the Covington students and their attempted “lynching” by social media and the mainstream media:

 

Anyway, let’s move to Catholic apologist Mark Shea, who began his Facebook post on the matter with:

The MAGA goons were threatening confrontation with a small clutch of black protestors. (sic) As is done in his tradition, Phillips intervened with a drum and a chant to draw fire to himself. It was an act of peacemaking. The goons then mobbed and mocked him and he did not respond in kind. This was classic non-violence. The attempt to paint this as “elderly man with drum terrorizes 70 innocent athletic douchebags” is a narrative only the Right Wing Lie Machine would have the gall to promote

So, to repeat, Catholic apologist Mark Shea characterized the students from Covington Catholic High School as “MAGA goons” and “athletic douchebags.”

Image result for what gif mad men

 

Sunday evening, Mark has published a piece at Patheos apologizing a bit – although his Facebook and Twitter posts calling these teenagers “MAGA goons” are still up.  He has now embraced the narrative that Phillips was a peacemaker, so there’s that. (I repeat – look at this video and see if it would strike you, if you were there as “Oh, this fellow is trying to bring peace into this situation as he drums in my face and his grandson yells at my classmate.”   He also says,

I disliked the “Crucify Them!” response because I think punishment should be ordered toward redemption, not destruction.

But….MAGA goons…athletic douchebags.

New Evangelization, I guess. *Shrugs.*

Shea also talks alot about the incident without being terribly specific about his takeaway from what he saw on the matter on which he’s opining, using another writer’s sequence of events.

Which, of course, is a defining characteristic of contemporary online rhetoric: to vaguely describe a situation, group people into categories, declare their motivations – but without many specific citations because 1) you don’t have time because you know something else is going to come down the pike for commentary in the next hour or so and 2) you know that your readers are going to be satisfied with the non-specific narrative you offer because they don’t have time to source it either, and are also busy waiting for the next thing.

****

Bottom line takeaways:

  • If you are going to comment on this moment, comment on the moment. Watch the evidence that’s out there closely, then link the words and ideas in your commentary to pieces of evidence.
  • Don’t bother with commenters who can’t be bothered to do that and who prefer to build narratives out of ideology, straw men and caricature.
  • Maybe think about the impact instant communication and social media has on our perception of events and their importance. Consider this:

What happened in your neighborhood over the weekend? Do you even know your neighbors? Your community?

It’s like that joke you see during election year:

Me yesterday: Has no idea who my city council representative is

Me today: Tweets three times on the shifts from red to blue in California’s 33rd electoral district.

Or, in church terms – being an expert on the scandals in the Archdiocese of Whatever, while never engaging with one’s own local church.

Social Media and the internet puts us in touch with the world and tempts us to believe that we can impact the world with just a click – and that if we can know about it and if we can influence it, we must. 

And yes, yes, good comes out of it.

But is it really that much good? Is it worth it? Is it really better?

Remember that the foundation of all sin is pride. Right there. Pride. So, maybe before I post a Hot Take, I should think – why am I doing this? If the reasons come down to nothing more than virtue signalling or a sense that *I* have “followers” who are super interested in my life or my opinion and I owe them a hot take – or I have to keep my profile nice and high by entering into this fray – pride. 

 

Go here to read the rest.

 

 

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38 Comments

  1. “As is done in his tradition, Phillips intervened with a drum and a chant to draw fire to himself. It was an act of peacemaking.”
    Everybody knows the long native tradition of beating a drum in an individual’s face to bring peace, it is so soothing.
    Drum beating begins every account of every massacre perpetrated by Europeans on natives. The noble natives were trying to diffuse a tense situation, but those nasty whites (wearing red “Make America Great” & “Christopher Columbus Rocks” hats) weren’t having any of that.

  2. The thin veneer of civility has been completely removed from the left. A photo of a white (athletic???) kid wearing a MAGA hat was all that was required to incite the mob. This story has played out across the country many times. So eventually, if it hasn’t happened already, the wrong MAGA individual is going to be poked, prodded or drummed and that person will act in a aggressive or violent manner and the left will feel so vindicated.

  3. Did Mark Shea racially profile these kids?

    I think he did.

    Gender stereotyped too. tsk tsk.

    Bushbeard Man Bad

  4. Third party investigation coming.
    Gotta love that.
    Somehow the video from the black man’s friend will never be allowed to be used in the upcoming investigation.
    Just a hunch.

    Boy. How cynical I’ve become.
    (Thanks senator Dianne Feinstein)

  5. At this point, shouldn’t someone contact someone in Seattle Catholic-wise and say ‘you’ve got a paid Catholic apologist from your neck of the woods calling children at the March for Life “douchebags”‘? I mean, at what point is this saying ‘no standards in our apologetics.’?

  6. I think it’s confirmation bias. The leftists (including Fr. Martin) are so ready to believe and highlight the worst about…well, you name it here–Catholics, pro-lifers, young white males, Trump supporters, anyone in a MAGA hat etc. Of course, they’re NOT going to show the Black Hebrew Israelites (google Yahweh ben Yahweh) and anything THEY said or the abuse heeped on the Covington students by Phillips grandson (or nephew or follower). They’re protected, because as these folks learn in marxist journalism 101–you’ve got to make a “positive difference”–in other words protecting the “oppressed” and attacking the “oppressor” is the MOST important thing and the truth is relative to that. The biggest power the press/media has is the power to IGNORE and what they ignore and what they promote is inspired by what they learned at the marxist journalism schools (basically every school of journalism and English Dept in the US university system)

  7. Confirmation bias explains liberals acting like liberals.

    So how do you explain putative conservatives acting like liberals?

    Not you personally. The rhetorical you. Because “how does one explain” starts sounding to Buckleyite, and I’m down on institutional spawn today.

  8. I’ve long harbored the suspicion that just about everything Mark Shea’s had to say over the last 14 years is a function of his own inner turmoil, not of anything going on in the palpable world in which you and I live.

    Pretty amusing Shea’s bought into the portrayal of aboriginals you find in mass-entertainment products. (And imputed it to Nathan Phillips. Phillips’ actual work history has yet to be elucidated and may never be, but he appears to be something of a professional okupier).

  9. So how do you explain putative conservatives acting like liberals?

    You’ll get an idea of in front of whom people who write for a living feel embarrassed. Somehow in years of reading First Things, I never registered this fellow Frankovich as one of their contributors (a berth he had from 2009 to 2014), nor can I recall seeing his byline at NR. (That’s where he’s been working for the last half-dozen years). He evidently has a long history in the Catholic press, mostly editing books. Of course, Rod Dreher’s behavior in this imbroglio is of a piece with his behavior in the course of every other imbroglio. Don’t imagine it has much to do with politics, but with character and personality.

  10. I think it’s confirmation bias. The leftists (including Fr. Martin) are so ready to believe and highlight the worst about…well, you name it here

    Again, the sort of fuzzy social-democratic politics which was modal in the Democratic Party ca. 1977 has largely evaporated. Instead, it’s status games all the way down. Despising people outside their mascot groups and outside their social circles is what’s left of leftoid politics in this country. (I know some NeverTrump types whose brains seem to work the same way).

  11. Hey, @Art Deco, I know we butt-heads occassionally, but I am legit curious if you’ve listened to this episode of the remnant podcast. Jonathan V Last is on it and I’m at the part where he & Jonah talk about conservative Catholics and First Things and I’m curious as to yours and Don’s reaction to it. (since I’m uninformed enough about the subject and you do work to be informed)

  12. Agree with you about Dreher, who, to his credit, has admitted as much elsewhere. (He has a tic about “bullying” behavior.)

    There’s a contemptible amount of virtue signaling going on here, something like hey, we just write for deplorables, we’re not deplorable ourselves, you know.

  13. The single most important takeaway from this event for me is that the vast majority of the agitators and people calling for violence against the teens won’t apologize. I read an account of the actress Jamie Lee Curtis retracting her initial statements and her followers pounced on her for being so weak. Tolerance is not a virtue to the left, although I’m beginning to believe they may be devoid of any virtue.

  14. “Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness.” Captain Nathan Brittles, “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”

    True then, true for lying liberals.

    Hey! This also is apropos. The cavalry gulled the childish savages into not starting a war.

    In conclusion, Chief Nathan ought to be on the cover of GQ.

  15. Mark Steyn has a pretty good take on this as well:

    What’s disturbing about this fake hate crime is not that the Twitter mob scented blood in its nostrils and went bounding after its prey, but that a big chunk of Conservative Inc piled on, as enthusiastically as the left. And Jay Nordlinger’s finger-wagging about an “American disgrace” is absurd in its sanctimony: However you wish to characterize a professional tribal elder intervening in a showdown between upscale Catholic private-school pupils and “Black Hebrew Israelites”, it isn’t an “American” disgrace. An American disgrace is the declining life expectancy of white males due to addiction, or the collapse of the family in rural America, or a bipartisan political class admitting millions of unskilled illegal immigrants to the country so that MS-13 gangs are now a fact of life in suburban Long Island in order that the Dems can get voters and the GOP’s donors can get cheap labor …or any one of a ton of other “American disgraces” Conservative Inc doesn’t talk about because it only takes to the field on the left’s terms.
    [. . .]

    But accepting not just your opponents’ framing of the argument but their most repulsive totalitarian rituals is even worse. The Orwellian Twitterstorm is something utterly disgusting: It reduces man to a cyber-jackal, feasting on whatever prey is tossed in his path. I have argued, at some length, that you cannot have truly conservative government in a liberal culture. Culture is like air – it’s all around, and you don’t even think about it. So we live in an age of social-media feeding frenzies that can vaporize a fellow’s Oscar-hosting gig or drive an unfortunate porn actress to suicide. There is nothing in the least bit “conservative” about such a world: It’s like the young student in Milan Kundera’s great novel of Warsaw Pact totalitarianism, The Joke, facing the party committee and wondering why none of his friends will speak up for him – except that it’s now at Spaceballs Ludicrous Speed, and the respectable right cannot even bring itself to forgo the pleasure of getting played for saps. Every time.

  16. but I am legit curious if you’ve listened to this episode of the remnant podcast.

    No I hadn’t. I skimmed the supporting documentation in re RR Reno and listened to a fragment of their conversation. I found it amusing that Goldberg bitch*s that R.R. Reno reviewed his book without reading it, and then Last launches into a characterization of R.R. Reno which bears no resemblance to Dr. Reno or First Things. It was at that point that I quit listening. I suppose I should suspend judgment and hear him out, but I cannot be bothered. As for Goldberg’s book: can’t be bothered to read it and can’t be bothered to assess the veracity of his claims about Reno’s review.

    I haven’t been terribly impressed with the conduct of the Kristol circle or the Podhoretz circle or some of the cretins who write for NR. Listening to Kristol’s deputy inform the world that R.R. Reno is ‘totally in the tank for Pope Francis’ doesn’t improve my opinion. One thing we’ve discovered of late is that Kristol (and, by extension, Last) has been on the patronage of one of the founders of eBay, a man with a long history as a Democratic donor. Not a ‘Remnant’ I’m itchin’ to join.

  17. If anyone cares, I’ve had a number of complaints about Reno. One was that the comment forums there were ruined, first subject to haphazard moderation and then turned over to Disqus. Another (discussed among some of us) was that the content and the moderation practice suggested there was a sketchy character among their set of young employees. Another was that Reno had turned the content into an extension of the discourse among the theological academy (pretty stupefying for the rest of us). Since I haven’t participated in the comment fora in years, I haven’t a clue whether that continued to be a problem. I do read it at the library, and a great deal of its spirit seems to have leaked away. It’s as if Richard John Neuhaus built a ship only he could fly. I think it had seen its best days by the time Neuhaus’ original deputy retired in 2004. No clue with which publication Last confounded it.

  18. As for Goldberg’s book: can’t be bothered to read it and can’t be bothered to assess the veracity of his claims about Reno’s review.

    I read both. Reno clearly didn’t read the book and his assessment was pathetically wrong. That said, Last was incorrect in stating that Reno was in the tank for Francis.

  19. @Cato, @Art Deco

    Thanks. That was informative and sated my curiosity.

    (I have Jonah’s latest book. Been reading it off and on.)

  20. So how do you explain putative conservatives acting like liberals?

    The question answers itself – they are liberals.

  21. I can’t wait for Shea’s advancing diabetes to render him even more insane, bedridden, and permanently encased in adult diapers. Especially now that his erectile dysfunction has made his impotent rage of self-loathing the best spiritual cancer one could ever wish on a Son of Perdition.

  22. Art Deco said: “I’ve long harbored the suspicion that just about everything Mark Shea’s had to say over the last 14 years is a function of his own inner turmoil, not of anything going on in the palpable world in which you and I live.”

    ——————-

    Well funny you should mention that, because I’ve researched Shea’s past, and it was indeed 14 years ago that Shea Sloth had to declare bankruptcy. Oh and, he kept very very quiet about it ( as one does when they’re burning in shame as a complete failure) which was very strange for a big-mouth blowhard like Shea who never could control his verbal diarrhea at any other time. And wouldn’t you just know it – shortly after that – he began his stupid water-boarding “torture” tirades against those evil “NeoCons”. You know the ones – those suit and tie wearing “Neocons” that put a gun to the heads of fat lazy slobs like Shea and force them into bankruptcy. What an odd set of “coincidences”….yes?

  23. Finally, read Reno’s review of Goldberg’s Suicide, together with the author’s response and Reno’s reply. Personally, I think Reno got the better of Goldberg in the exchange. Maybe that’s because, like Nate Winchester, I can only read the book on and (mostly) off. And that’s because, there’s no point in slogging through 400 pages on the “Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism and Identity Politics” when “[t]here is No God in this book.” There’s precious little left of God in the West either, which might explain the whole “Return of the Primitive,” as Ed Driscoll likes to call the thing. Though there’s plenty of self congratulation along the lines of “We pulled ourselves out of the much, not some Garden of Eden. Indeed, if the Garden of Eden ever existed, it was a slum. We created the Miracle of modernity. ”

    The return of the eldritch Gods of the Copybook Headings which Goldberg deplores is directly correlated with the Death of God. So I don’t see how you’re going to persuade anybody who isn’t already persuaded of your position without, you know, talking about God. Which Goldberg says he isn’t going to do in the very first sentence.

  24. Well funny you should mention that, because I’ve researched Shea’s past, and it was indeed 14 years ago that Shea Sloth had to declare bankruptcy. Oh and, he kept very very quiet about it ( as one does when they’re burning in shame as a complete failure)

    The moderator’s law practice concentrates on bankruptcy cases. He may have his own ideas on the range of human types he encounters as debtors and creditors.

    I’d be disinclined to refer to someone who had been through bankruptcy a ‘complete failure’, even if they’ve managed their finances badly, simply because finances (while crucial) aren’t your only responsibility. It’s also difficult for me to believe that Shea’s been in a rage at third parties for 14 years.over his embarrassments in the realm of credit card debt. I’m not sure why he would have a visceral association in his mind between Richard Cheney and the guys who make calls for collection agencies, but it’s the inside of his head, not mine.

    My suspicion about Shea is that he’s in bad health for a man of 60 and that he’s made some bad vocational choices over the years which he can’t do much about anymore. As far as I’m aware, he’s careful not to say much about himself as a person apart from his religious engagement. (Which is fine). IIRC, he was married in 1983 or thereabouts, has four sons, and has lived in the Pacific northwest for decades, if not his whole life.

  25. I can’t wait for Shea’s advancing diabetes to render him even more insane, bedridden, and permanently encased in adult diapers. Especially now that his erectile dysfunction has made his impotent rage of self-loathing the best spiritual cancer one could ever wish on a Son of Perdition.

    I think you’ve gone off the rails here.

  26. I can’t wait for Shea’s advancing diabetes to render him even more insane, bedridden, and permanently encased in adult diapers. Especially now that his erectile dysfunction has made his impotent rage of self-loathing the best spiritual cancer one could ever wish on a Son of Perdition.

    “I think you’ve gone off the rails here.”

    Indeed. Any such further comments will be deleted, and the person making the comment will be banned. First, last and only warning. Such comments say a lot about the person making them, and nothing about Mark Shea.

  27. The question answers itself – they are liberals.

    Not really. They have none of the shticks of a typical college dean. However, they do appear to identify emotionally with people of a certain class and background, and to despise viscerally people who buy their magazines. We really do not need such creatures in public life.

  28. “The moderator’s law practice concentrates on bankruptcy cases. He may have his own ideas on the range of human types he encounters as debtors and creditors.”

    All types can end up in bankruptcy for a multitude of reasons. It can say something about the morality of a person, or it can say nothing at all as the person fell into bankruptcy through no fault of his own.

  29. “As far as I’m aware, he’s careful not to say much about himself as a person apart from his religious engagement.”

    First, I wish no harm on Mark, though I’m disgusted at what he has ended up doing with his ministry. Bad is still bad. Attacking teens and students when others are calling for them to be beaten or harmed is hell and gone from the Gospel.

    With that said, way back when I first encountered him (early 00s) his blog was not what it is today (though that goes for the Internet in general). Whatever people think Mark ‘really was’, his blog wasn’t this. When I say that I used to visit there, and people see it today, it’s like saying ‘talk show’ when I’m thinking Dick Cavett, and people today think Jerry Springer. His blog allowed for no personal attacks, name calling or accusations. Even if he agreed with you, you’d be banned (after a few warnings). Likewise, it was a place where the comments were usually more content packed, and shallow talking points and digs were discouraged. As for content, it was about 1/3 apologetics, aimed mostly at Protestants and non-Catholic Christians; 1/3 social issues, usually rallying against things like abortion, gay marriage, socialism or rampant ‘name it and claim it’ conservatism;, and 1/3 whimsical, humor, or stories about his kids, his family or him. So he did have a much more ‘personal’ face on his blog back then. But that was long ago.

  30. I’m very contemptuous of Shea, but my reasons have nothing to do with his weight, diabetes or bankruptcy. I’m overweight & a diabetic, and I haven’t always been a good money manager. And being a recovering alcoholic I likely committed more sins than Shea. So his diabetes & bankruptcy aren’t relevant. What is relevant is his knee jerk left coast idiocy and his Trump derangement syndrome. I would pray for his weight problem, diabetes and money issues, and fight against his liberal lunacy.

    Don’t worry. This brief moment of sanity will pass.

  31. I could believe that the stress of bankruptcy caused Shea to snap. For awhile it seems pretty clear that he has become very slothful mentally. That is he no longer cares about reading carefully or getting anything right, but whatever he feels at the moment about a comment or passage is what it is. But his health or personal issues have nothing to do with the right or wrongness of his words. He would still be wrong and insane even if he was fitter than Charles Atlas.

    There is a reason Sloth is a deadly sin. Don’t embrace your own version of it while critiquing his.

  32. I’m not motivated to read Goldberg’s book. Something Mortimer Adler once said, in response to ‘never judge a book by its cover’ was ‘the cover is what the publisher wants you to see…first’. American democracy isn’t threatened by a ‘rebirth of tribalism’, nor is European democracy. European public life has been damaged by the manufacture of a tribalism that was not there in 1949. This was a project of the political class contra the wishes of the majority. Much the same has occurred in the United States, except that it’s an additive to older ethnic divisions. As the rivalries we had in 1948 have grown less salient, the political class has added new ones, even as the institutions which provided for an exchange of courtesies between communal segments have decayed (and conflicts transferred, quite inappropriately, to the courts).

    That aside, what’s wrecking democratic institutions in a very literal way is the scarcely resisted usurpation of discretion by the courts (in North America) and by the Brussels apparat (in Europe). The whole object is to rig matters so that elections do not alter public policy in any way. And if you cannot rig matters that way, add some vote fraud (now a problem in this country). The NeverTrump types fancy The Donald is the pathology. He’s the reaction to the pathology.

    Examining the table of contents, I also tend to doubt that Goldberg has the erudition to properly execute the task he’s set for himself. I doubt many people employed in writing topical commentary do. Perhaps George Will or Charles Krauthammer did, but they never attempted in in their prime.

  33. I could believe that the stress of bankruptcy caused Shea to snap. For awhile it seems pretty clear that he has become very slothful mentally.

    And keep on snapping for 14 years?

    And I’m not seeing how sloth is a source of his venom. (The most superlatively slothful person I know is also the gentlest person I know). Nor do I understand why his particular targets are his targets.

    Little that he wrote prior to 2005 suggested a man with a heavy visceral investment in topical political questions. If you look at the Catholic press as it was ca. 2000 (and also at the oecumenical press which had a Catholic component), the people who wrote for it produced copy which intersected with topical questions now and again, but were militant only with regard to a discrete menu of issues. I think at different times Richard John Neuhaus, Deal Hudson, and Michael Novak were taken to task for an excessively intimate association with Republican politicians or with what were sometimes called ‘courtier intellectuals’. Still, Hudson wasn’t given to intense polemics and Neuhas’ output on political questions was a circumscribed portion of the whole body of his writings. Shea wasn’t reacting to much of anything in his particular matrix.

  34. The whole object is to rig matters so that elections do not alter public policy in any way. And if you cannot rig matters that way, add some vote fraud (now a problem in this country). The NeverTrump types fancy The Donald is the pathology. He’s the reaction to the pathology.

    Bingo.

  35. Lucius,

    You and everyone around here are more intelligent and well-informed than I. My truly humble opinion is that Mark-Who?’s major malfunction lies in Uncharity notably in his viciously reacting to anyone that dares disagree/question with his opinions (Plato: Opinion is not truth.). I remember that from a hundred years ago when I last wasted time at his blog.

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