The best predictor of who might defend the Covington Catholic students and who might attack them has a lot in common with who automatically sided with the Saints and who stood up for Rams. It’s human nature to defend your own faction. Like NFL helmets, the MAGA hats worn by many of the Covington Catholic students marked them as villains in some people’s eyes and countrymen to others. This shouldn’t be so, of course, but it is. As Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman noted in a Tuesday tweet: “What a MAGA hat means to you or me may not be what it means to them. I don’t like Che Guevara t-shirts but I don’t assume they tell me everything I know about the wearer.” Likewise, the tendency to identify with an elderly Native American and to think him unimpeachable should be suppressed until the complete evidence is in, but not everybody has the time or the patience for that.
This universal rush to find confirmation of pre-existing views reminds me of the Jon Ronson joke: “Ever since I first learned about confirmation bias I’ve been seeing it everywhere.”