Sometimes, a three-point celebration is just a three-point celebration. Sometimes, a pep rally is just a pep rally. Sometimes, a smile is just a smile. And sometimes, a hat is just a hat.

Only among the most deranged partisans could a universal sports ritual, a common high school activity, a typical teen face and patriotic headgear be construed as evil symbols of patriarchal oppression.

These, however, are the soul-sapping, lunacy-inducing times in which we live.

Nobody loses their marbles when black NBA stars make the universal "OK" gesture with one hand. Or two. Or when the elite athletes hold up the sign to the sky, turn two of them into triumphant eye goggles, stir the pot, sweep the floor or dramatically holster their finger-trios like weapons.

It's all in good fun.

But when reputation-destroying agitators plundered the photo collection of the Covington Catholic High School basketball team in search of evidence to bolster their prefabricated narrative that the white Kentucky boys must, must, must be unrepentant bigots, the three-point celebration transmogrified into menacing proof of R-A-C-I-S-M.

Liberal pot-stirrers tweeted celebrities and journalists an image purporting to show that the Covington kids — still under siege after being slandered last week at the March for Life rally by Native American agitator Nathan Phillips — had flashed white supremacy signs. The teens were pictured on the sidelines of a basketball court in their uniforms, paying tribute to a teammate who had just scored.

No, they did not hail him with Hitler salutes, but with the innocuous three-point, A-OK sign.

Undeterred by basketball fans who futilely tried to explain the actual meaning of the hand gesture, monomaniacal left-wing detectives marked all the Covington athletes' fingers with cuckoo red-font circles and disseminated their fevered forensic analysis across social media with enraged captions, including this one sent to the pope:

"This is the All White hand sign. This is Covington Catholic school. Is this what they teach at this Catholic school? Is this how Jesus wanted it?"

Comedienne-turned-decapitation fetishist Kathy Griffin gleefully attacked the boys, tweeting "Covington's finest throwing up the new nazi sign."

The New York Daily News and U.K. Daily Mail compounded the delusional smear with sensational headlines claiming Covington basketball players had taunted a black opponent while in "blackface." Quelle horreur!

In truth, internet trolls had ripped a screenshot from the team's video montage of pep rallies — where students had dressed up as nerds, businessmen and Hawaiians or painted themselves blue, white and (gasp!) black at various competitions.

It's not racism. It's athletic boosterism.

An alum, Ryan Toler, tried to correct the record, pointing out that he was pictured in the seven-year-old photo: "I'm shown in the background of this image. ITS CALLED A BLACKOUT THEME. WE HAD SCHOOL SPIRIT. WE DO THIS TO EVERY SCHOOL NO MATTER THE RACE OR ETHNICITY. Stop trying to force a fake story to drive your false narrative."

But the media manufacturers of racism won't stop because the ideological incentives to convict first and verify later are far too strong. Time after time, liberals see racism where it doesn't exist, fabricate it when they can't find it and ignore it within their own ranks.

They didn't stop after falsely accusing Zina Gelman Bash, a Jewish Mexican-American lawyer, of flashing a white supremacy sign at a Senate confirmation hearing last fall for her friend Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

They didn't stop after the liberal white zealots of the Southern Poverty Law Center falsely labeled famed neurosurgeon and Trump Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and anti-jihad activist Maajid Nawaz "extremists."

They didn't stop after hysterically spreading campus hate crime fakery cooked up at my alma mater, Oberlin College, where excitable nitwits claimed a student walking around with a blanket wrapped around her was a lurking racist in a KKK hood; at Michigan State University, where a "noose" turned out to be a lost shoelace; or at Bowling Green State University, where a purported group of Klansmen turned out to be lab equipment covered with a white cloth.

They didn't stop after attacking my Catholic high school alma mater, Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, N.J., four years ago, when a decades-old tradition of basketball fans dressing up in goofy costumes was falsely portrayed by USA Today as racism because students wore monkey pajamas and a giant banana (others wore a green ballerina tutu, a bumblebee suit, a jack-o'-lantern outfit and "Wizard of Oz" get-ups).

The Covington hoax is more than just the epitome of fake news. It's a cultural Rorschach test that measures the impact of Trump-hating confirmation bias on the viewer's intellectual honesty and emotional stability. Those calling to protest, dox, stalk or kill the MAGA hat-wearing Covington kids and their families over a selectively edited video planted by a foreign instigator prove, once again, that political correctness is a pathological disorder.

Michelle Malkin's email address is writemalkin@gmail.com.

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