By Holly Rehder
Like many of us in Rural America, I watched the reactions to a man drumming in the face of a MAGA-hat wearing teenage boy in Washington, DC with a heavy heart. The rabid attacks from the mainstream media on the boys from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky were, in the least, despicable.
Now that video proof has emerged exonerating the boys from the accusations, the left has been caught red-handed with altering the narrative through the national liberal press. Due to the action of the media, these boys, their families, and their school were eviscerated and shamed by liberals, progressives, and moderate Republicans alike. They were even sent death threats. My friend and her son were on the trip, I have first hand knowledge of this.
A lot of thoughts are running through my head about this. How could a few seconds of video be taken as absolute proof of wild accusations by so-called legitimate sources of news? What kind of political and moral mindset makes it okay to publicly target children? I know that many of us are asking the same questions, but one thought keeps ringing out in my head: any one of these boys could have been my son.
How could these students have known that when they donned a simple article of clothing showing support for the President that a simple tour of our nation’s Capital would forever alter their lives? What this incident demonstrates is that in this age of instant news and irresponsible reporting, no one’s child can be safe. In a matter of moments, doctored video and an all-too-eager national press ran a story that put the lives of these boys in danger. Any one of them could have been one of my sons. They could have been anyone’s son. These boys and their families were confronted with the worst the forces of the “tolerant left” have to offer all because news outlets rushed to jump aboard the social justice bandwagon.
We raise our children to believe that they should feel proud to exercise their rights to political speech, that they should feel free to go out in engage in civil discourse and political involvement. This most recent broadcasting bungle shatters that idea. The truth is, so long as mainstream media outlets like the New York Times and CNN seek to tear apart the reputations and lives of people (and yes, children included) who disagree with them, and so long as there exist bands of progressives and even moderate Republicans who are more than willing to punish on their behalf, then no American can be completely safe in this digital age.
If journalists and the media are so eager to rid themselves of the “fake news” monicker, then I would suggest they work on regaining the trust of the American people instead of making a mockery of themselves, of civil discourse, and of journalistic integrity.
As for the boys of Covington, know this—that hat means free speech is still alive for us in Rural America. I hope you keep wearing them.
Rep. Holly Rehder represents Scott and Mississippi counties in the Missouri House of Representatives.