originally published January 20, 2019

Like most people, I saw the image of the smirking high school boy in the MAGA hat staring at a chanting Native American man and my reaction was swift — I immediately jumped on the kid and his schoolmates for their white privilege. But, after watching the actual video, I’m not sure the kid was wrong to just stand there. He didn’t do anything. He didn’t touch the man or say anything to him. In all likelihood, he didn’t know what to do. There’s a strange man, standing very close to him, banging a drum and singing loudly into his face. As a parent, that upsets me. I know the man didn’t mean harm, but if someone got in my daughter’s personal space like that, I would’ve stepped in. Which leads me to this question: Where was this young man’s parents?

I encourage my kids to speak up if they believe in something. I’ve taken them to an anti-gun rally and a local women’s march. My older daughter led a “sit in” at her school on the one month anniversary of the Parkland school shooting to honor the victims. I’m proud of my kids and their interest in social activism, but I’m also part of it. I go with them to keep them safe — from themselves and others. They’re children. I would never put them on a school bus and send them to a rally out of state wearing political paraphernalia and hope for the best. The parents of these boys from Covington Catholic School should be punished; not the boys.

Honestly, what did they think would happen when they sent those boys in MAGA shirts and hats to Washington, DC? Are they unaware of the political climate in this country and the hate emanating from both sides? Frankly, it was completely irresponsible and dangerous to send those boys into that situation. I don’t even want to go into why I think it’s wrong on so many levels to send a group of adolescent boys to protest a woman’s right to choose — that’s a whole other argument. Those boys parents should have been with them to protect them from themselves, the protestors on the other side, and the media.

While I don’t agree with the sentiments of the boys, I can’t blame them. They’re still children who are likely repeating the things they hear at home. Their parents — and the school administrators — should have known better than to send them into a political shit storm and expect them to come out of it clean.