When Bad Shit Hits Home

It’s weird when the world is looking upon your tiny piece of the earth with disfavor.

I was raised in Covington, Kentucky. When Randy and I were looking for our house, Covington was where we looked over most other areas. We ended up staying in Ohio, but we’re a stone’s throw from Covington.

My parents, sisters, niece and nephew all live in a small community adjacent to Covington. My father grew up in Newport, Kentucky. He attended Newport Catholic. Covington Catholic was forever his rival. I attended Catholic school in Covington and many of the boys I went to grade school with attended Covington Catholic.

It is devastating to watch my home town dragged through the mud. It is uncomfortable to feel both ashamed and defensive.

Covington is an interesting, diverse little river town.

It is also harbors ugliness that is hard to look at.

We’ve seen the video of the young man in a MAGA hat attempting to intimidate the Native American Vietnam vet. The smugness on his face is maddening. The chaperones cheering him on makes me want to puke and cry.

How low we’ve gone. How ugly we are.

It has become commonplace to see videos of white people behaving like monsters. But this one? Wow. This one has stoked a white hot rage. With good reason.

What I’m struggling with, are the scores and scores of tweets and comments that can be summed up with: What else do you expect from a bunch of knuckle dragging inbred hillbillies who voted in Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul? Or perhaps just: Fuck Kentucky.

Mitch McConnell has got to go. He’s holding the entire country hostage.

You know who has to get rid of him? Kentuckians. Kentuckians hold the key to Mitch’s political future.

How helpful is it to vilify the entire state?

We need Kentucky to vote McConnell out. We need Kentucky to vote Rand Paul out. The entire country is depending on Kentucky to do the right thing. How helpful is it for the entire country to pile on Kentucky, when the entire country is at the mercy of Kentucky voters?

How many people can you reach if you are pointing and laughing and painting the entire state with your hillbilly MAGA brushes?

Are there a lot of hillbilly MAGAts in Kentucky? Oh, fuck yes there are.

But they don’t get to lay claim to the state of Kentucky.

There are people in Kentucky who are devoted to the resistance.

Do you know what they need? They fucking need help.  Keep on pointing and laughing. Keep Trump’s base all riled up. Because that is fucking helpful. How are people within the state supposed to make any progress if the rest of the country is making it more difficult?

It is in all our best interest to do what we can to help the people of Kentucky who want to do right.

You know, we can expand this to beyond Kentucky.

There are Trump supporters in every state. Some states have more than others.

There are people in the resistance in every state. The ones who are outnumbered are the ones who most need our support.

We’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.

This in no way suggests that we shouldn’t continue to call out bad behavior. I firmly believe we must. We can’t ignore it. We can’t pretend it isn’t there. We must call it out. The young man in the video is going to learn a hard lesson. But this is a good thing. We can’t make people stop being racist, but we can collectively and definitively tell them that it is not accepted.


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  • I feel your pain. I’ve lived in WV all my life. The great people of WV elected a man to Congress who ran and was defeated for office in two other states. Bless their hearts they show up to vote with little or no knowledge about the person they voted for.

  • I so understand. I’m in NC, a place where they elected Jesse Helms *shudder* and continued to re-elect him 4 more times!

  • I’ve been avoiding political postings in social media because I’m certain it’s not helping with the divide, but yesterday I did post an image of Nathan Phillips, the Ohoma man who was drumming. It’s a meme that focuses on him, not on smug MAGA boy. And my troll attacked. I’m very lucky, I just have one key troll. The sad part is, this troll is my husband’s closest friend and his support of the current administration has ended all group contact. Frank stays loosely connected while keeping me far from the troll. He doesn’t want the drama in his life. That said, I haven’t blocked friend troll from my life because I keep hoping there’s a bridge. Somewhere a bridge to connect all of us back together.
    Back to the Facebook post – the troll came out. Responded with a link to a news source I’ve never heard of that claims there’s a whole other side to the story and that we only saw one camara angle.
    I responded with respect and thanked the troll for sharing a different perspective. I know that was the right thing to do. I know going high is all we have.
    But I stewed all night. Waking up to stew through each hot flash.
    I had bitchy comebacks running rampant.
    We can’t do the bitchy comebacks.
    We can’t engage in their negativity.
    We need to be a part of the healing, the bridge building.
    Bridge builders don’t condemn a whole state or even all Catholic school boys for a glimpse of a situation that we didn’t witness in it’s entirety.
    I’m not sure how to spread this message – but we need to. Your post about not engaging in the shaming from a few weeks ago comes to mind.
    We have to make some attempt at understanding what is happening on the other side of the camara to get out of this black hole.
    So, I’ll leave my positive response to my single troll as it is and tamp down all my shitty comebacks. Somebody’s got to start building bridges.

  • A few years ago Tennessee became a nationwide laughingstock. It wasn’t as horrific or as immediate, although the lawmaker pushing the “Don’t say gay” bill was just as much of a bully as the kids harassing a Native American man. I got pretty tired of hearing “What do you expect from Tennessee?”
    For some here, though, some of the very people targeted by “Don’t say gay”, the Tennessee “jokes” made them feel even more isolated and alone. At a time when good people needed support they were treated as part of the joke and part of the problem.
    I just want you to know you’re not alone. I know you and Randy aren’t the only good people in Kentucky.

  • I’m from Texas, so I can relate. And actually, in the past, my city was pretty solidly conservative.

    I’d go visit places up north and point out, when criticized, that I’d never seen racism as bad as what I see in some northern towns, and yet no one would believe me.

    Houston, at least, has changed politically in the past couple of decades. We’re solidly Democrat now and regardless, I continue to meet some of the greatest and least 19th century type people I’ve ever met anywhere here.

    I have no doubt that Kentucky is the same way. It’s annoying when people make assumptions – and even worse when a few locals give everybody else reason to make those assumptions.

  • You are absolutely correct it’s not the whole state. I will not put down a whole state because that’s short sighted. I’m in California but the area I live in is mostly conservative and support the egomaniac. Painting a whole state or even a whole town is wrong. There will always be a mix no matter how small.

  • There’s always more than one side to any story, video never portrays events on the left or right of the camera, and a 30 second snippet sure doesn’t show events before or after.

    I wasn’t there, and even if I had been, I wouldn’t have seen everything that occurred. We heard what Philips had to say, here’s what the Nick Sandmann had to say: “I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.
    “I harbor no ill will for this person. I respect this person’s right to protest and engage in free speech activities, and I support his chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial any day of the week. I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make.”

    Nothing in the 30 second snippet refutes this.

    I haven’t watched the 2 hour video referred to, but here’s the link to the article:

    • Now I have watched the video (I did fast forward in spots). It looks to me like the kids were standing around being kids, and the Native American group approached the kids, even though there was plenty of space to go around them. You can hear the man taking the video, and his friends in the extremist group, making hateful comments about just about everyone.
      So what truly happened?
      From who’s perspective?

      • To me, it looked like the the Vietnam vet was trying to come between the MAGA kids and some black protesters. The MAGA kids were doing the tomahawk wave at him at one point. It’s not hard to find the racism. And when someone encroaches on someone’s personal space and stands there smirking? I mean, it was pretty bad. Granted, showing part of the video is misleading, but I don’t feel like those kids (and more importantly, their chaperones) were being respectful.

        • Yeah, I’m conflicted about it. I read about it for about 2 hours, and still don’t have a conclusion, except that it’s somewhere in the middle. My gut is to go anti-MAGA hat, so I was trying to question my assumptions.
          The Black Hebrew Israelites were yelling some pretty hateful things as well, and you can hear that pretty well in the video.

  • It can be hard when people try to use your human decency against you, and make no mistake, that happens all of the damn time.
    But there are values that underpin that human decency, and the time when they are the most difficult to uphold is just not the time to abandon them.
    This is MLK day, fer chrissakes, do we remember any of the things he said? As far as I remember, being mean to people on Twitter wasn’t one of his ideas.
    My hometown of Eureka, CA, just had a women’s march after the original organizers backed out of putting it on because it would be “overwhelmingly white” and they were terrified of how it might look in the media coverage that they get so little of that they see it as terribly important.
    Then a lesbian former city council member said “Uh, no.” and organized it herself with crowdfunding and a sense of what constitutes missing the point.
    Eureka is more than 75% white, so yeah, the march was gonna be “overwhelmingly white” but the point of the march was inclusivity, which fucking INCLUDES the lily-white women in the town behind the redwood curtain, and all of their male friends who had what it took to march in the rain there.
    I stand guilty as charged of making snarky jokes about redwoods still being woods and the places behind them of being backwoods, but there was someone there who had what it took to rise above that and put the damn march on in the Eureka rain that I fled to Oakland from all of those years ago.
    And that sort of teasing does not come from a place of wholesale dismissal.
    I don’t know what happened at the indigenous people’s march, and I have serious prejudices against the “march for life” participants who apparently clashed with them. So I knew right away that I had to bite back on my reaction to the story, as I am nowhere near objective about the participants.
    I live in the East Bay, and we throw a riot over trivialities, so who am I to say who was the bad guy?
    But there come those values again, and I know the answer to that question and it then becomes about manners.
    I am a big fan of manners, as they are not optional fripperies about which fork to use, but instead a tool to use to keep the homicide rate down as the population density goes up.

    *steps down off of soapbox and tries not to fall down*

  • What really no one has mentioned (that I saw) was that these people were there for the “March for Life”. These are “pro-life” Catholics. But they are not really “pro-life” just anti-abortion. Pro-life means much more than anti-abortion it has to do with ALL aspects of life, not just abortion.

    Racism is inherently not “pro-life”. If you stand behind a “pro-life” banner in the morning and then turn into a racist mob in the afternoon you may be anti-abortion but you sure as hell aren’t “pro-life”. And I’d go so far as to say you are not even a Christian.

    As much as I hope these students (if they attend a Catholic school) would be expelled for this behavior I’m not sure that is a good answer. But some kind of positive reaction from the parishes involved is required. I sure hope the parish priest(s) prepare a biting homily on this situation and call their parishes to task on their racism.

  • OK I’m going to amend my comment just a bit. I did not know enough about the incident when I made the post – my bad- and I just had a chance to see a news article on it. There seems to be a bit of confusion about exactly what went down and things may (I say “may”) have been blown a bit out of proportion.

    However, the one photo I saw was of the student standing in front of the Native American just smiling. It was a rather smirky or snarky smile, at least in the photo, and could have been just his way of not reacting but sure looked rather condescending to me.
    But in the photo, the student is wearing a MAGA cap and many of the students around him in the photo are wearing MAGA caps and some pro-Trump sweatshirts. Considering that pretty much these days if you see a bunch of MAGA caps and such we pretty much assume the pro-Trump group is provoking the incident. It’s rather sad that it has come to this. Because of the current situation in this country anytime a MAGA cap is seen we assume they are the “bad guys” vs trying to understand the situation better.
    I’m very much anti-Trump but we probably need to remind ourselves that not all MAGA folks are as bad as we think and they might not always be the “bad guys” in a given situation.

    I still think some conversations and homilies need to be given dealing with racism and hatred that seemed to show up in this situation. And maybe a conversation on what wearing a MAGA cap might say about the person wearing it. “Image (perception) is reality”.

  • I am so blessed and grateful to live in California. I absolutely don’t judge the residents of the red states for the few LOUD MAGAts that seem to represent them. I’m lucky to not have to deal with many MAGAts in person, frankly. I did lose one good friend over the 2016 election. She unfriended both my husband and me on FB but continues to follow me on Twitter. Occasionally, if I R/T something that pushes her over an edge, she’ll reply to me and the OT (OP?) … but that’s as much contact as I’ve had with her in two years. Sigh.
    The rest of the world seems to be sitting in judgment of us as a country, ya know, in the same way that outsiders seem to be sitting in judgment of Kentucky. Or Catholics. Or… whomever. It’s very sad. I look forward to the end, when the cleansing of the traitors finally comes to pass.

  • Not gonna lie, I’m suuuuper frustrated with Kentucky right now. Because I know they can do better, be better.

    And when I saw this story, that fucking smirk that says “I get away with everything and I can do anything to you right now because I’m ME, I too was filled with a white hot rage and temporarily lost hope. But then I heard a sweet Native veteran explaining that he stepped between a pack of unleashed teenagers and their original targets and began drumming and singing his prayers to God, to draw God’s eye to that moment and ask that all of them be kept safe. And I watched the video with fresh eyes because that smirking little shit stain had no real power or courage and he knew it and his friends knew it. They mocked and did their thing but they couldn’t drown out the drum and the voices raised in hope.

    And they never will.

  • All I saw was doubtful defiance… in his little head, he thought he was all bad-ass and his arrogant staring was definitely a learned antagonism… but, the eye roll… very subtle, gave away the insecurity of how long he was gonna be able to keep it up.
    It was a blatant power struggle… one confident and sure, harnessing the opportunity to teach and be a strong leader, the other, an immature act of attempted male power claiming…
    I do believe there was an attempt by the Native drummer to encourage the kids to join in, but the moment was lost and the hideous reality just swooped in 🙁
    And, now? Poor little misunderstood white boy who didn’t mean what we all saw… he’s a great kid! The best! Better than any kid to ever come out of Kentucky!

By Michelle


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