Nicholas Sandmann, a young teenager unwittingly made the centerpiece of the Covington Catholic media attack, will never have the chance to restore his online presence, despite his innocence. The internet’s permanence—negative, false and defamatory articles and headlines never ceasing to appear upon a Google search of the word “Sandmann”—will function as a perpetual thorn in Nicholas’s side throughout his adolescence and entire adult life.
—L. Lin Wood & Todd McMurtry,
attorneys for Nicholas Sandmann

Except for my time in college and a few years living in Washington, D.C., I have spent my entire life in Central Kentucky. I live less than 90 miles from Covington Catholic High School, and like most Kentuckians, I was familiar with the school  chiefly due to its success in high school athletics and its fervent student cheering section. The Covington Catholic Colonels have won over 20 state championships in numerous sports, including two “Sweet Sixteens.” The Sweet Sixteen is a championship tournament in which high schools of every size across basketball-crazed Kentucky compete.

Recently, Covington Catholic students have had to endure a fight far more difficult than any athletic competition. Left-wing evangelists and their accomplices in the national media recklessly used high school students as cannon fodder in their culture war—a fight that is perpetually waged against anything that offers a semblance of traditional Western culture.

When Kentuckians get together to watch the Kentucky Wildcats play basketball, conversations seldom steer off the topic of our beloved team. However, when I gathered with a few friends to watch a game, the conversation turned away from sports. One of my friends said two of his children had been a part of the Covington Catholic trip to Washington, D.C. He had known Nicholas Sandmann for years and thought of him as an excellent young man.

We first talked about the outrageous behavior of the media, which hastily published only the parts of the video that, taken out of context, fit the left’s preferred narrative. Then my friend mentioned “doxing.” At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. He explained that doxing involves disseminating personal information on social media, such as addresses, phone numbers and employment information, in order to harm people and to encourage others to harass them.

Malevolent leftist activists saw a target-rich environment in the crowd of Catholic teenagers attending a pro-life rally, some of whom were wearing “MAGA” hats. The activists posted pictures online of the students at the Lincoln Memorial and asked for help to identify and dox them. Ultimately, thousands of strangers sent the Covington teenagers and their parents vile messages that in many cases included threats of violence.

My friend received a profanity-laced email attacking his parenting skills from a cowardly individual in California. His children also missed time in the classroom because the violent threats forced Covington Catholic to cancel school. As of this writing, there is still a police presence at the school.

The Kentucky legal system will likely put the mob in check. Local prosecutor Rob Sanders said he is confident he will be able to prosecute some of the people that made violent threats against the students and their families. Some of these threats called for the students to be shot; others that they be locked in the school while it was set on fire. It would be quite satisfying to see these lunatics held accountable in Kentucky’s criminal courts.

Nicholas Sandmann’s lawyers also have filed libel actions against the Washington Post and CNN in federal court. Both of these cases have been assigned to long-time federal judge William Bertelsman. I am confident that this fiercely independent judge will do his best to rule in accordance with the law. Libel cases against media outlets are difficult to win, but such cases have been won before in Kentucky courts. Hope springs eternal.

Recently, my friend asked me why there was such a rush to judgment, and why so many people who had no idea what actually happened at the Lincoln Memorial attacked the Covington Catholic families with such viciousness. He was particularly surprised at the behavior of some of the folks in his own community.

He has learned what even the most casual reader of this magazine knows. The leftists and their colleagues in the national media have no interest in the truth. All that matters to them is whether a narrative may assist them in destroying the last remnants of our civilization. These levelers have no shame and are perfectly happy to bully and attack teenagers in order to achieve their goals. 

But it wasn’t just leftists who piled on these kids when the story first came out. Many so-called conservative commentators joined the crowd. Appallingly, in the heat of the media fray, the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic threw their own kids under the proverbial bus—issuing a statement that condemned the actions of the students and threatening expulsion. Both organizations later apologized, and Bishop Roger Foys confessed, “We should not have allowed ourselves to be bullied and pressured into making a statement prematurely, and we take full responsibility for it.” Foys apologized to Nicholas Sandmann and his family, and to all of the “families who felt abandoned during this ordeal.”

It goes without saying that the left and the media remain unrepentant of their actions during the Covington Catholic affair. I am confident that they will continue to deploy their scorched-earth tactics.

However, an important lesson remains for the rest of us. My friend felt the sting of being abandoned by his church and his community at a moment when these boys and their families needed support, grace, and love. We should never abandon our neighbors and friends in their time of need. We may hope to avoid blowback from the mob as it directs its fury against anyone who is not quick to join it in condemning its current target of hatred. Our support for those who are being persecuted may win for us personal ridicule, but that threat does not alter our true obligations to our friends and neighbors. “And let us not be weary in well doing,” writes St. Paul in Galatians 6:9, “for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”