Leftist corporate media really likes student activists. Well, some student activists. The Washington Post’s feature on Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s youth summit in Houston last month was decidedly derogatory towards young conservatives sporting their “Socialism Distancing” T-shirts.
WaPo mocked the event as “pro-lasers and pro-fog machines” and contrasted youthful attendees with the selfless, hard-working nurses staying at the same hotel sent to deal with Covid-related shortages at local hospitals. In sum, young conservatives are naive, self-absorbed, and indifferent to the sacrificial labors and suffering of those around them.
But youth activists protesting against systemic racism, gun violence, and anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry? Well, confrères, that is a very different matter. In that case, student activists have a mature, socially responsible, and even essential message to communicate to all us reckless, thoughtless adults.
Take, for example, WaPo’s early October feature on activist students in the Dallas suburb of Colleyville, Texas. Part of its “Teens in America” series, the article reported on a group of students who have attracted national attention for their protests defending their black principal (currently on administrative leave) accused of pushing critical race theory at their high school. That feature offered a glowingly commendatory portrayal of the students, including a panoramic video of masked student protestors of a range of races and religious beliefs that is obviously intended to convey to readers that these are the future leaders of America.
Indeed, the article notes that most of the students participating in a recent student walk-out “were students of color. Most of those staying put were White.” The leader of the student protest, Sean Vo, is “an Asian American who said reading books by Angela Davis raised his racial consciousness.” The Colleyville Heritage High principal, James Whitfield, has claimed he is being targeted for his race and for his marriage to a white woman. (The WaPo refrained from presenting any evidence to support this inflammatory charge — perhaps, one wonders, because there is none?).
But thank goodness for conscientious teenagers who understand the realities of systemic, institutional racism. They’re heroes, reports the WaPo, “stay[ing] outside for five hours in 93-degree heat.” Give those Texas kids a medal. “We so much care about student voice and being heard,” Vo explained to the WaPo, “especially as minorities and people of color. We really want students after us to understand they can speak about these issues and open up.”
Of course, it’s not just anti-racist adolescents who earn the adulation of liberal corporate media. Gavin Grimm, the transgender student whose Supreme Court case against Gloucester County School Board for denying her access to a bathroom other than that of her biological sex earned national headlines and celebrity shout-outs. So too did the media fawn over the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School students in Parkland, Florida, especially demagogue and bully David Hogg. All, they tell us, are brilliant champions of freedom.
The contradictory incoherence here is not limited to the media’s portrayal of student activists. Consider how Black Lives Matter-sponsored and and other racism-alleging protests were covered last year, in the middle of a supposed national quarantine during which Americans were supposed to mask up and socially distance. But, our media elites told us, that didn’t apply to “mostly peaceful” riots, because racism is an even greater sickness than the coronavirus.
Parents who have expressed concern or skepticism about the content of their children’s public school curriculum, alternatively, don’t deserve praise, or even the kid gloves. Those persons, we are told, are fomenting domestic terrorism and thus must be censured and maligned. WaPo columnist Karen Attiah called parental protests in Colleyville, Texas a manifestation of “white power” politics that will result in students being left to “drown in ignorance.”
No one following media coverage of such things should be surprised by any of this. Protestors whose message aligns with the narratives of leftist ideology — particularly racial, gender, and sexual self-realization and self-celebration — are honored and lauded, their visages plastered on front pages and nightly news programs. Those who reject those narratives — whether on the grounds of reason, science, history, tradition, or religion — must be labeled ignorant, if not backwards and bigoted.
But its effects should not be underestimated. Public school students, with the encouragement of their teachers and administrators, are told that their activism will result not only in praise but perhaps even positive national headlines that indulge their basest self-worshipping tendencies.
In other words, media coverage that lionizes these activist kids serves the same narcissistic purposes as social media and evening television, catechizing them that celebrity and viral moments give life meaning. We should not be surprised when they then demand safe spaces and decry micro-aggressions and toxic masculinity when they join the workforce.
Thus the children activists groomed by public educators and media collaborators to be ever on the prowl for racist, patriarchal monsters to destroy are tomorrow’s workforce, ever-desperate for new boundaries to break and power structures to dismantle, no matter how socially self-destructive.
Commenting on pro-Trump fellow students, one of the Texas high-school student protestors interviewed by the WaPo haughtily complained: “It’s scary to see that these people don’t go away as you grow up.” You know, I was thinking the same thing.