If we can learn anything from the Covington Catholic event which so overshadowed the real intent of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., perhaps it is to be aware of how quickly we respond to news we read on the internet. As has become known since more video footage has been released, some of the immediate reactions of the media like that of The New York Times has been proven wrong. These young men from a Catholic high school did not surround and intimidate Nathan Phillips, a Native American man, who was present in the Capitol for another march, one for the rights of indigenous peoples. In fact, over the course of the week, Mr. Phillips’ narrative of the events changed in their details several times. As it turned out, these Covington Catholic high school students were being mocked and insulted by members of yet another group gathered to protest, the Nation of Black Hebrew Israelites.
We may never fully understand what occurred in this conflict; perhaps not even those who were present there may actually understand what happened. Yet millions of people who were not present did not feel that just perhaps they should take a step back and maybe learn the full story before they commented on the internet, even posting threats against students’ lives, sending bomb scares to the Diocese of Covington and to Covington schools, and trying to destroy the families of these young men in terms of career and reputation.
Perhaps before we tweet out our opinions, maybe before we post on Facebook, maybe even before we release an article or a press statement, we could take a step back and wait a moment. Retrieve the facts. Ask for wisdom in the formulation of our statements, seeking not only to be accurate, but also just. The people involved in this unfortunate incident, which totally overshadowed the meaning of March for Life (and in a week when we in New York State descended to the depths of barbarism with the blood-stained, anti-life decision of our Governor). Mr. Phillips, these young men, the Black Hebrew Israelites, all have immortal souls; they are all created in God’s image and likeness; all of them, despite the presence of sin in our world, are still fundamentally good. Our hasty words have actions. We pray that those involved in this unfortunate encounter will be able to live normal lives after this week, that the truth of what occurred will be known, and that we, as a Nation, will be able to grow and learn from this.