In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High

It almost never fails.

Within minutes or hours after hitting the send key for a submission to online blogs/magazines/journals, I find myself wishing I’d deleted, added, or changed some of the text, and that includes correcting typos, using different lexis, and occasionally verifying a certain date.

And there’s been many a time when I’d follow up with an email to the editors requesting a correction of one type or another – thanks to astute CP readers who politely point out an error.

While I will not employ my poor typing skills as an excuse, attempting to meet a deadline does not always afford me the “Cooling off Period,” a praxis I attempted to impress on my students prior to their submitting their essays. “Allow your papers to percolate overnight” was an admonishment I preached, over and over again.

And it almost never fails.

While most CP reader responses I receive are supportive and complimentary, the occasional hateful responses that show up in my inbox are an affirmation that because of our myopia, we are a nation divided, polarized, and tribal, and, because of our inability to cogently read the printed text, we’ve lost our ability to carry on meaningful constructive conversations.

Worse yet! We read news and opinion columns with same speed as we do text messages.

To my January 21, 2019 CP posting under the title “The Little Brett Kavanaughs of Covington Catholic High,” one reader responded thusly (all correspondence is in sequential order):

I read with interest your well thought-out article recently posted on counterpunch. Unfortunately, your appeal will fall on deaf ears as our culture continues to spiral ever downward under the tutelage of the crass “leadership” currently holding the country hostage.

Insults have replaced debate, emotion has replaced reason, thoughtlessness has replaced thought.

I wish it were not so, but I see no return to civility and, at 72, I despair.

Very truly yours,


To which I responded:

Thank you for your kind words. Just one year older than you, I, like you, despair at what is happening not only in America, but across the world. When the crown of a giant oak begins to die, it is a sign that it is only a short time before the decay filters down.

For some reason I keep hoping that a leader will emerge – from somewhere – to get us on the right course.

I only wish that 15% of the world’s citizens share your views to help effect a change.

In gratitude, peace, and harmony.

Reader F.T. stated the following: “Just 3 words, …….very well said.”  Another reader opined with “Wow!  Well done! Sharing widely!”  M.S. Stated that “Conduct is so very important by those who present themselves and are chosen to lead,” and another response affirmed   that what I wrote was “On target, as usual.”

Unfortunately, two responses confirm my point that because of deep-seated anger and ideological blindness, some readers see anything that runs counter to their entrenched views as a muleta at which they blindly charge, full bore ahead.

Jeff Bedrin is one such example. Here is what he wrote:

Did you even watch the available two-hour video that shows everything in context, great Prof. emeritus? No, you went with second and third-hand reports reinforcing your incestuous, ideological narrative.

Pretty pathetic, even for a second-hand piece of emeritus shit.

Jeff Beddrin

Another person from Ira Transport (company name) wrote the following:


did you not see the full video?

did you not see that the covington [sic.] men comported themselves with total control?

do you really not understand the narrative here?

I so wish that Mr. Bedrin and Mr. Ira Transport had noted my exact wording describing the scuffle thusly: “While the narrative, including the charges and counter-charges, are an evolving cut and paste of facts provided by witnesses, video recordings, and those involved in this loathsome circus of odious behavior… .”  I based my facts on available (non-FOXNEWS)  information available early Monday morning at about the same time I was hammering away at the keyboard.


For those blinded by their own dogmatic muletas with subsequent death threats against the students, your threats are an affront to decency. And I am inclined to place Mr. Jeff  Bedrin and  Mr. Ira Transport in a somewhat similar category.

I commend Covington Catholic High School’s officials for promising a full-scale investigation by an impartial entity. And I would like to encourage them, once all the facts are in, to follow up by inviting Native American Elder Nathan Phillips and younger members of his tribe for a schoolwide open forum/dialogue whose sole purpose would be to sweep away the cobwebs of ignorance, fear, and hatred.

Just think of it: would this not shame the adults – the so-called leaders – whose salient goal is to drive divisive political wedges to fragment us and make us turn on each other?

And the children shall lead them!!!

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist.