Closer to home

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I've written twice about the incident at the Lincoln Memorial involving professional protesters and a bunch of Catholic school kids wearing MAGA hats. This incident bothers me more than most things I write about, most likely because I can envision what these kids were thinking. I am a product of Catholic education and graduated from Xavier High School in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1981. While I didn't send my own children to Catholic schools, it wasn't because I didn't value my own experience.

Covington, Kentucky, is across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. The kids who attend Covington Catholic High School are, most likely, upper middle-class. But if you look at them and the way they are behaving, I don't see arrogance. I can imagine being a high school junior, in a strange place, being confronted without warning or, in my view, provocation. I understand that wearing a MAGA hat seems to cause some people consternation, but it's still free speech and the kid most prominently featured in the videos, isn't really saying much.

If I had been the kid, I might have told the guy with the drum to leave me alone. Perhaps that would have been the better course, rather than standing still. The closest thing I can remember to that was being accosted in the Miami airport when I was on my way to Guatemala as an exchange student. I was confused and tired and was suddenly accosted by some Moonie-type guys who pinned a flower to my lapel and grabbed me while I was attempting to work my way down the corridor to my plane's gate. They would not let go of me until I gave them $5, which in 1979 was a lot of money for a 15-year-old kid. I was separated from the rest of my group and didn't know how to ask for help.

Is this a different set of circumstances? Of course. But if you are suddenly confronted with something new that you do not understand, whether it is a couple of guys grabbing you in the airport, or a guy beating a drum in your face, it's difficult to know how to react, especially if you are young.