With everything from Twitter followers to television bookings, we’re rewarded for fierce conviction, for utter certainty, for emphatically taking sides and staying unconditionally faithful to what we’ve pushed for and against in the past. We each have our brand, and the narrower and more unyielding it is, the more currency it has and the more loyal our consumers. Instead of bucking the political tribalism in America, we ride it.

We react to news by trying to fit it into the argument that we routinely make, the grievance that we usually raise, the fury or angst or sorrow that we typically peddle. We have our narrative, and we’re on the lookout for comments and developments that back it up. The response to the initial footage of the Covington boys — and, in particular, to the one who wore a red MAGA cap as he stood before and stared at the drumming veteran — adhered to this dynamic.

Was that a smirk on the teenager’s face? A sneer? His expression was just indefinite enough to become a symbol of entitlement for the pundits who favor that locution, of the white patriarchy for another group, of the wages of Trumpism, of the fraudulence of Catholicism.