CNN’s crusade against a group of Catholic school students wrongly accused of harassing a Native American protestor in Washington, D.C. is now getting religious.
The cable news outlet – which President Trump regularly refers to as “fake news” – published an editorial on Wednesday by TV priest Father Edward Beck, who admonished the students and school chaperones for allegedly ungodly behavior during the school field trip to the recent March for Life rally.
Beck, an ordained Roman Catholic priest and regular “religion commentator” for CNN and other mainstream media stations, initially blamed students and their school, Covington Catholic School, for the now viral confrontation in a post to Twitter.
CNN provided him a platform to elaborate.
“Respect for our elders is no longer in vogue. Too often, young people are encouraged to speak their own minds indiscriminately, even when not fully developed or sufficiently imbued with the capacity for right judgement,” Beck wrote.
“The result of such ill-advice is on display in the now famous Covington Catholic High School incident in Washington, D.C.”
The thing is, the student at the center of the controversy, Nick Sandmann, didn’t say anything to the Native American protestor who singled him out in a crowd of his peers, who were under a racist verbal attack from Black Hebrew Israelites nearby. He simply stood motionless, smiling as the man, later identified as activist Nathan Phillips, who pounded a drum and chanted inches from his face.
The incident sparked outrage on social media after a deceptively edited video of the confrontation appeared to show Covington Catholic students mocking Phillips, a feeble Native American and former military service member. The students were wearing Make America Great Again hats after coming from the March for Life rally to meet near the Lincoln Memorial, and many were chanting along with Phillips and a group of adults with him.
CNN and other media outlets framed the ordeal as white supremacist students from Kentucky intimidating Phillips, who initially lied to the media and said the students confronted him. Longer, unedited videos later surfaced to show the students were initially harassed by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites near the Lincoln Memorial, and students responded to racist jeers from the group with school fight songs.
The conflict prompted Phillips and his group to step in, and the complete video shows he targeted Sandmann and invaded his personal space. Sandmann later released a statement and sat for an interview with NBC in which he explained he simply attempted to remain calm to avoid escalating the situation.
“In hindsight, I wish we could’ve waked away and avoided the whole thing,” he told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.
Beck seized on the admission to lecture the Catholic students and their chaperones about religious virtue, despite the new evidence they were the victims of a misinformation campaign online and in the media. Covington Catholic was forced to close in recent days due to a flood of death threats directed at the students, the school, their parents and the community. The situation has even required the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to intervene.
“If (Sandmann) felt confronted, he and his classmates should have paid heed to the Christian dictum of ‘turn the other cheek’ rather than to thrust both cheeks into the face of an elder about whom they knew nothing,” Beck wrote for CNN. “Boys are seen laughing at and mocking their elder. It is wrong, plain and simple.”
Beck blamed chaperones for failing to corral the students when they came under attack from the Black Hebrew Israelites. Beck contends the adults on the trip should have formed a human shield around the teens until the school’s buses arrived.
“That’s what chaperones do for young people not yet mature enough to make wise and prudent choices,” he wrote. “Instead, these boys were left to fend for themselves and as a result acted in unwise and disrespectful ways.”
That’s obvious simply by the fact that some of the teens donned red MAGA hats, which represents an agenda Beck claims is “in opposition with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.”
The Catholic Church’s pro-life teaching encompasses a panoply of issues such as: abortion, immigration, capital punishment, the environment and climate change, sex trafficking, and the inequitable distribution of the world’s resources. Some claim the “MAGA philosophy” is not in accord with church teaching on many of these issues. Teachers and chaperones from the Catholic school should have discouraged students from, however unwittingly, promoting a questionable partisan political agenda.
Beck made no mention of the media’s role in promoting the edited video as an episode of racism at the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech on racism decades earlier. He didn’t address the lynch mob that targeted the teens in the aftermath. He didn’t condemn the Black Hebrew Israelites or the Native America protestors who instigated the confrontation.
Instead, he complained about the “vile and uncharitable” response to his misguided take on the media embarrassment, and pointed to the backlash as “further indication of the vast political, racial and religious divides that still exist in our country.”