COVINGTON CATHOLIC AND OUR INFERIORITY COMPLEX

First Things | 4/1/2016 | Charlotte Allen
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There was plenty to get angry about in the disgraceful behavior of media figures and celebrities in the Covington Catholic incident. A carefully edited video clip that went viral on January 19 purported to show mostly white teenage boys, in Washington for the March for Life, wearing Trump-supporting MAGA hats while jeering and “smirking” at an aged Native American activist and drummer who was participating in an Indigenous People’s March. This story, later revealed to be a completely false interpretation of events, then triggered denunciations and worse from an array of well-known and lesser-known personalities in news, entertainment, and academia.

But as I survey the Covington wreckage, I feel more sad than angry. The long-term takeaway from the sorry incident isn’t the complicity of the mainstream media in broadcasting a lie after failing in their basic journalistic duty to do some reporting (we all know the media are primed to jump on anything that discredits Trump, white males, and opposition to abortion). It’s the pathetic spectacle of Catholic institutions and Catholic public intellectuals wringing their hands and rushing to condemn the boys minutes after the original video went viral. Like the journos, they did not bother to investigate or even wait a few hours for the truth to emerge. They simply assumed the boys’ guilt because the mighty mainstream media said so, and then hastily went public to apologize for something that never happened, assuring liberal critics that they, too, considered the youths—their own students, parishioners, and co-religionists—to be deserving of grievous sanctions.

R - R - Reno - Today - Leaders

R. R. Reno has pointed out that today’s Catholic leaders are “[o]verwrought with anxiety about their roles in elite society.” That’s true, but I think there’s something more: a deep and pervasive crisis of confidence among educated Catholics in their own institutions. One reason for this inferiority complex is...
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