Right Opinion

Reading Between the Maligns

Tony Perkins · Jan. 24, 2019

Under normal circumstances, the kids at Covington Catholic would be cheering the extra day off. But Tuesday’s decision to cancel classes was not a moment anyone celebrated. It was a reminder that no one in the tight-knit community is safe. Least of all the children.

Five days after Covington students clashed with a man by the Lincoln Memorial, police cars are still staked out across the high school. The parking lot is closed, and officers have fanned out everywhere just in case one of the hundreds of threats pouring into the school materializes. The Left’s rush to judgment about a group of teenagers in MAGA hats at the March for Life means that basketball games have been postponed. Clothes with Covington colors are too dangerous to wear. And life for some of these teenagers may never be the same.

It was the kind of story liberal reporters dream about — a group of pro-life Catholic Trump supporters caught on tape abusing an older man with a different ethnicity. They seized on the video of a “smirking” Nick Sandmann like a pack of wolves, savoring the opportunity to prove that every MAGA hat-wearing American is an evil homophobic racist misogynistic sociopath (as one extremist so eloquently put it). The image of Nick’s face went viral, unleashing a raw and feral torrent of backlash. Nick and his friends were savaged across every media platform. “I want NAMES,” Kathy Griffin demanded. “Shame them. If you think these f—s wouldn’t dox you in a heartbeat, think again.” Best-selling author Reza Aslan tweeted that the Nick had a “punchable face.” Others called for him to be burned alive — a high school junior with a spotless record. “I have never heard such cruel things wished upon another human being,” Covington Senior Grant Hillman said soberly.

There’s just one problem. The accusations weren’t true. Longer videos showed that Covington Catholic kids weren’t the aggressors — they were the victims, first of a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, then by the media’s phony martyr, Nathan Phillips. And while hate may be in the Left’s vocabulary, sorry isn’t. When the full version of the tape was released, the New York Times didn’t apologize. They said, “more videos later emerged complicating the story.” To the other side, I suppose that’s what the truth has always been — a complication.

Shame first, confirm later. But in the rush to paint a group of pro-life teenagers as a gang of Trump-loving thugs, the irony is this: liberals doxxed themselves. It’s no longer a mystery where the real prejudices lives. And unlike the crucifixion of Brett Kavanaugh — and you can draw plenty of parallels — this is not an “oops, my bad” moment for the Left. These are children with futures and families and friends. In a world like ours, where one tweet, one hate map, one cellphone video can end up in the wrong hands, there are real consequences here. We at FRC have seen them.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, “Most of those who so eagerly maligned these boys will face no lasting consequences, while the boys themselves will always have to wonder, when they are turned down for a job or a school, whether someone had Googled their name and found only half this story. This is an ugly moment in America, all right, but there are few things uglier than a righteous leftist mob.”

Some of the boys’ critics were brave enough to retract their statements. CNN’s S.E. Cupp did an immediate mea culpa. “Hey guys. Seeing all the additional videos now, and I 100% regret reacting too quickly to the Covington story. I wish I’d had the fuller picture before weighing in, and I’m truly sorry.” Others, like the Atlantic’s Julie Zimmerman, used her snap judgment as a cautionary tale. “Why are we all so primed for outrage, and what if the thousands of words and countless hours spent on this had been directed toward something consequential? If the Covington Catholic incident was a test, it’s one I failed.”

The rest of the media continues to see what it wants in the footage, which is really not so different from how they treat anything that conflicts with their agenda. Biology, moral law, science, the Constitution — it’s all irrelevant if it doesn’t fit their narrative. To them, these kids will never be innocent because of who they are and what they believe. Real bigotry doesn’t stop to acknowledge truth — which, along with the Left’s deep desire to destroy conservatives, is what keeps the wheels of fake news churning.

Joy Behar didn’t mind admitting as much on Tuesday’s “View.” When Whoopi Goldberg asked why “we keep making the same mistake?” Joy was honest. “We’re desperate to get Trump out of office,” she said. What she and her extremist friends don’t seem to realize is that vitriol like this only makes that more unlikely. When a group of high schoolers behave more grown up than the mobs who come after them, the Left is losing its grip on a lot more than reality. It’s losing its argument for America.

Originally published here.

D.C. Dishes out Punishment for Area Restaurant

What’s the point of a women’s restroom if you don’t care who uses it? That’s a question on the minds of a lot of D.C. restaurant owners this week, after city officials dropped the hammer on Chinatown’s Cuba Libre. There, trying to keep customers safe will cost you your job — and a whole lot more.

It’s an amazing world we live in. Our schools spend years teaching biology, then the government punishes for recognizing it. The owners of Cuba Libre are still reeling from the decision handed down by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine after an incident last June when a man who identified as transgender tried to use the women’s restroom. Some employees saw Clyde Clymer go into the bathroom and followed him in, asking for ID.

It was a reasonable request, after all. If the ID said Clymer was female, then the staff would let him use the women’s restroom. (Although, in D.C., your sex designation isn’t exactly difficult to change on your identification.) If Clymer had shown the staffer a legal ID showing that he was at least legally female, that probably would have been the end of the incident. But Clymer refused to show ID (and may have been belligerent), so he was asked to leave. That’s when Clymer called the police.

Now, seven months later, D.C. is making an example out of Cuba Libre. Racine fined the restaurant $7,000 for violating the District’s Human Rights Act, ordered the owners to rewrite its corporate policy, undergo extensive sensitivity training, and post a sign that reads, “All individuals are allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity or expression.” FRC’s Peter Sprigg was astonished. After all, he argues, “No court has (yet) said that it is illegal or unconstitutional to have separate restrooms for men and women. The restaurant staff assumed that only women should use the women’s restroom. That is entirely reasonable.”

The whole incident actually does a great job illustrating a lot of Americans’ concerns about these policies for public safety. As we’ve said several times, our worry isn’t that people who identify as transgender will be sexual predators. (Although the presence of men in the women’s bathroom makes it uncomfortable enough as it is). The fear is that actual sexual predators could exploit these transgender bathroom policies by posing as transgender to get access to women.

Our opponents say that concern is misplaced because, “Misconduct in the restroom would still be illegal.” The goal is not to punish misconduct after it happens — we want to stop it from taking place at all! We want to prevent the potential abuse and the trauma that can scar someone for life. And a key prevention measure is not allowing men to go into the women’s room — and taking steps to prevent it when you see it happening.

Unfortunately, Peter explains, “that rather obvious prevention measure has now been deemed illegal under gender identity non-discrimination laws like D.C.‘s. Rather than deterring men from entering women’s facilities, businesses and their employees now face a very strong deterrent to stopping men from entering women’s facilities — because they may face crippling fines and/or unemployment if they take such an action. If even asking for ID is impermissible, then there is simply no way to prevent a man from entering women’s facilities at all.”

If libre means “free,” this restaurant is anything but. That’s inexcusable anywhere, but in America’s capital city — blocks from the documents that guarantees any business the liberty to operate the way it sees fit — it’s shameful. At least in D.C., safety is obviously not on the menu.

Originally published here.

Bordering on Obstruction

Just moments before I walked into a meeting to discuss the current stalemate over border security and government funding with President Trump Wednesday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) revealed the depth of the petty and unreasonable nature of the new Democratic Party. In a message to the president, Speaker Pelosi said she wouldn’t allow a vote on the resolution authorizing the State of the Union address until the government was reopened, thereby denying the president the ability to give his annual State of the Union address.

The president invited the press into the opening portion of our almost 90-minute meeting and made clear he would be addressing the nation — and lamented just how radicalized the Democratic Party has become. I encouraged the president to continue his resolve to address the totality of the crisis on the border, both the security and humanitarian crises. Since before I arrived at FRC over 15 years ago, illegal immigration has been an unresolved problem that threatened our nation’s future — and it still remains unresolved.

Based on my firsthand knowledge and experience here in Washington, we’ve never been closer to arriving at a comprehensive solution to illegal immigration. Yes, it requires some compromise, like the three-year extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the increasing in humanitarian funding for border-related matters. These are reasonable offers. The president is trying hard to get the quarter of the government that has been shut down for over a month reopened, but not at the expense of national security.

We’ll see if there are any reasonable Democrats in the Senate today. Tuesday, in my meeting with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), he said two bills would be on the Senate floor on Thursday: one that reopens the government, funds the president’s border wall, and extends the Democrats’ DACA program another three years. The minority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) demanded the second bill be a straight-forward counter-proposal to reopen the government without doing a single thing about the immigration crisis for almost a month.

As Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told me in the last segment of yesterday’s “Washington Watch,” there’s nothing we’ll know about this in three weeks that we don’t know right now. I would encourage you to contact your senators, regardless of their party affiliation and encourage them to support the president’s compromise: secure the border and get our government open and working.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.

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