By now you've likely seen, read, heard about the group of Catholic school teenaged boys in a viral video taunting an Indigenous Elder, Nathan Phillips near the Lincoln Memorial. There's a good chance you've also seen many "More Details Emerge!" articles, and "Things Aren't As We First Thought!" pieces coming about. Well, no kidding, as the video that first went viral was only a little over one minute long...but the most predictable and infuriating are the ones claiming, "Exculpatory Evidence Vindicates the White Boys!" and "Who REALLY Was The Aggressor?" posts. This article in The Heavy is a pretty good summary, including several longer videos, and the central teenager's (lawyer-written) response.
First, questions about who approached whom. Then, what about the interaction beforehand, with the Black Hebrew Israelites, who were shouting obscenities and homophobic slurs at everyone? Somehow, a group of 100 teenaged boys ended up surrounding a group of 4 or 5 Indigenous citizens, one of them Phillips, a Vietnam Vet in his 70s. The boys were chanting, jumping up and down, doing the tomahawk chop, and one was standing right in front of Phillips' face, smirking, not moving, staring at him. This kid, Nick Sandmann, claimed Phillips walked up to him, singling him out for confrontation. Sandmann said he was "startled and confused," smiled to show he meant no harm, and to try to diffuse the situation. He said a "silent prayer," he claims, that things didn't get out of hand. He had no idea he might become the center of a media firestorm. "I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me — to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence."
Ummmmmmm...first of all, I can think of a few actions Nick Sandmann might have taken that would have been more respectful of others, and less likely to lead to conflict than the ones he and his friends took. The first one would have involved not attending the March For Life rally at all. But they did, so let's move on. The second would have been to not wear MAGA gear to announce that they STILL supported the Racist Sexual Assaulter-In-Chief in Office right now. The third would have been to back up, back his friends up, to give Nathan Phillips passage through without surrounding him, staring him in the face, while he placed his body between a group of white teenagers and the Black Hebrew Israelites to keep them apart.
Let's talk a little more about respect. Let's say a small group performs a ritual that ends up with them having to walk through a larger group. Should the larger group surround the small group and immediately join in, jump up and down, whether they're trying to join in or to mock them, and drown them out with laughter and jeers? Or would it be more respectful, less provocative to give way, quiet down, give them space, and let them through?
We are supposed to believe the boys are complete innocents in the entire scenario. To read Nick Sandmann's statement, you'd think he was the second coming of Christ himself, and gosh golly gee, he'd never even dream of doing anything even slightly disrespectful. He and his 99 friends were just scared of first 4 Black men, and then 4 Indigenous people - "Adults looking to start a confrontation." He's just bewildered - "Why would anyone want to start a fight with us? We're just kids!"
Mr. Phillips said he heard chants of "Build that wall" from the kids surrounding him. In his statement, Sandmann says he did not hear that chant, and that "any assertions to the contrary are false." Why are people so willing to believe a teenaged Trump supporter over an Indigenous citizen who has fought in our armed forces to try to protect our country? Kirsten Powers actually said this best:
Finally, let's please all remember why the Covington Catholic School teenaged boys were in Washington, D.C. in the first place.
They paid money to be driven from Kentucky to D.C. to attend the anti-choice, disingenuously named "March For Life" rally held on Friday, January 18. That's right, a bunch of teenaged boys went on a field trip with their Catholic School to join a bunch of other people who think they have the right to tell women and girls what to do with the most intimate parts of their bodies. These 15-year-old boys think they are entitled to decide for women twice their age whether or not those women should have sex, use birth control, or birth children, when those same boys would likely beg for f*cking mercy the moment they felt 1/100th the pain of one contraction. They may think on some shallow level that they are saving babies, but they know on a deeper level that it involves controlling girls and women, and that is just A-OK with them. THAT is why they were in D.C. this weekend.
THEN, they were permitted to parade around to sightsee wearing lots of MAGA gear. I feel confident in saying in the year of our lord, 2019, that if you still support this "president" then you are either disgustingly racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, unpatriotic, or any combination of those things. Worse yet, you are not even afraid to declare you are these things. You're fine announcing it to the world. So, after they attended the rally, whose goal it was to end legal abortion for women in this nation, they walked around broadcasting via their hats and sweatshirts to any who encountered them that they also hold Black people, Hispanic people, LGBQT people, non-Christian people, in the lowest regard. We are supposed to believe they are innocent victims, the ones who were harassed and afraid, with nothing but love in their hearts, and nary a hateful thought in their minds?
I really could go on and on about this. So much wrong with this entire despicable episode. Why did the MAGA kids keep their distance from the small BHI group, but feel perfectly comfortable surrounding and mocking the small Indigenous group? Why, when the BHI group mentioned there weren't any Black people with them, did the kids say, "Yeah, we have one!" and then physically manhandle the one Black kid in their group to the front, practically delivering him with a bow to the BHI group for abuse? But I've gone on for too long already.
More details may have emerged. But none of them make the Covington Catholic School kids look any better, no matter how hard their lawyers, mothers, and reps in Congress might try.
Gimme a break.