New York Times reporter Dan Levin covers young Americans "and the issues they care about" — and just before 6 p.m. Thursday he tweeted a call for interview subjects that's going viral.
Levin said he's "writing about #ExposeChristianSchools. Are you in your 20s or younger who went to a Christian school? I'd like to hear about your experience and its impact on your life. Please DM me."
Well, that set off a firestorm of replies — nearly 8,000 as of Friday morning — far outpacing the "likes" his post received. In Twitterspeak that's called being "ratioed."
How did folks respond?
While one might assume a deluge of stories came in about how Christian schools messed up people's lives, quite the opposite occurred for the most part. Here are some examples:
- "Attended a Christian school, got an incredible education, missed out on the unhealthy effects of the public education system, and I use my education every day. Thankful for my education!"
- "25y/o. It saved my life from severe depression, escapism w/ alcohol/pot etc. Was lost in public school. Went to a Christian college, able to explore ideas I hadn't rly been exposed to, had support, became a Christian. Many fam & friends noted a change in me. Forever grateful."
- "I went to Catholic school from pre-K to 12th grade. I wouldn't change a thing. I learned in a loving environment. My schools were amazing and each day was a fun lesson. The Bible and my faith were integral to my education, but so was being a strong woman and a loving person."
- "My parents sacrificed and scrimped and saved to send me to Christian school for the entirety of my education. I was so blessed by my teachers, classmates, and community. I am forever thankful for my parents commitment to Christian education."
Others doubted Levin's objectivity and suspected he's preparing a hit piece on Christian schools, but he denied that and insisted he'll include positive accounts in his piece.
Some other replies:
- "#ExposePublicSchools would be a good story. The s**t goes on in those schools will make your hair stand up."
- "Honest question: is fishing for stories like this considered proper journalism? This is basically confirmation bias in the raw uncut form."
- "Please consider in this the context of the crusades against Covington Catholic, Catholic hospitals, Knights of Columbus, etc. A war on Christian institutions b/c they don't share elite morality."
- "I am a pro-choice, atheist and recently wrote in support of religion and against those tearing at the institutions. You are making a grave mistake trying to tear down catholic schools, especially with the rot inside public schools. You can see the damage on the college campuses."
- "I trust you'll be doing a follow up on #exposeMuslimschools."
Shall we try this again?
Less than an hour later Levin posted and pinned to the top of his Twitter page a new message, clarifying his intent.
"I write about American youth, and the hashtag #exposechristianchools, which I didn't create, went viral in recent days," he noted. "I'm writing about the response to it and want to hear about all experiences, including positive stories/impact about your time in school. Plz DM me."
But many of those responding to the new call for interviewees weren't having it:
- "You are not fooling anybody by your small modification above. It will be a hit piece to be sure."
- "As a New York Times reporter, it's your responsibility to communicate clearly to readers. Your first tweet about this was ambiguous at best. If we have to do our own research to make sense of your posts, that's a problem."
- "Investigate who created the hashtag and why they created it, and how it is they've come to think of Christians in such a fashion. That's the story. This is lazy."
- "We pulled our son out of public school because he was refused the right to call home after a bad fall on the playground resulting in a broken arm!! We enrolled him in a Christian school where he was safe and loved!"
- "I grew up in a severely dysfunctional household with an abusive and alcoholic dad. The Catholic School saved my 4 siblings and me. When my dad disappeared for good, it was the Catholic Church that was there to provide food, clothing, shelter and medical care. Forever grateful!"
- "Sounds like you already wrote the story, now just need some helpful confirmation of your bias."
And what of the 'exposechristianschools' hashtag?
So, what's the deal with the "expose Christian schools" hashtag? What's it all about? The following might provide some insight:
But Ben Shapiro and Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire had the following to say about the hashtag: