Blame the adults, not the teens

Where were the adults? That’s the question we ought to be asking about what happened to a group of Kentucky high school kids last weekend in Washington.

Why were the teenagers left without capable adult help in an explosive atmosphere? Who thought it was a good idea to involve them in a big demonstration staged for political purposes?

Getting answers to those questions will have to wait until quite a few people, including some of us in the news media, ask ourselves why fake news about the kids wasn’t quashed sooner.

You know what the initial story was. It was spread widely on so-called “social media,” then picked up by many in the conventional media. A group of Kentucky high school boys mocked an elderly Native American protester. One got close to the old man’s face and smirked at him.

You’d have thought the kid was responsible for the massacre at Wounded Knee. Reaction, including from some members of Congress, was so vicious the boys’ school was shut down for a day out of fear for their safety.

Hey, it was suggested, they must be racists. Some of them wore “Make America Great Again” caps, after all.

Then someone suggested we look at the larger, much more complex, picture. It turns out the boys were being harassed by a group of men describing themselves as “Black Hebrew Israelites.” The Native American protesters also were attacked verbally by the BHI group.

One of the Native Americans stepped into the group of Kentucky boys, hoping to defuse what could have become a violent confrontation. Obviously, it worked.

Back to the video of the boy and the Native American that went viral. The kid was smirking, it was observed widely.

Really? Look at the video. Is that a smirk — or a high school junior who’s partly confused, partly scared and, in contrast to some politicians, not very good at the facial expressions he thinks his audience wants to see?

Now, in the interest of accuracy — you remember that quaint old concern — it needs to be noted the Native American protester thinks the kids were mocking him. He also seems to understand they’re just boys who sometimes don’t make thoughtful, mature decisions.

Back to the situation — and yes, I realize I’m going to get hate mail from both sides of the political spectrum.

Using teenagers — and often, even younger children — as props for political demonstrations of any kind is, in two words, wrong and irresponsible. Some don’t even know what it is they’re protesting about. Even if they do — and admittedly, some are mature enough to have thought things through — is it intelligent to put them in the middle of rallies, marches, etc. that have the potential to become chaotic?

It appears the Kentucky kids had some chaperones. Obviously, they weren’t thinking clearly enough to get the boys out of a situation that had trouble written all over it.

What happened wasn’t the fault of a bunch of boys, some of whom we deem too immature to have driver’s licenses. Blame the adults.

And while we’re at it, we may want to think about how mature it is to demonize a bunch of kids even if they had engaged in the behavior of which they were accused.

Are the boys the only people lacking maturity, here?

Mike Myer can be reached at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

COMMENTS