The media is having a banner week. First, BuzzFeed’s story that President Trump directed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a real estate deal in Russia blows up, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office issuing a rare statement saying it was not accurate. And now, a MAGA-hat wearing kid mocked and chanted “Build The Wall” at a Native American during the March for Life. Also, this never happened.
The scene occurred by the Lincoln Memorial where students from Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Kentucky. They were in the city for the annual March for Life. They’re wearing Make America Great Again hats and they’re doing sports chants. Robby Soave at Reason has a great recap of the incident, where a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites engaged in the provocation, not the kids and not Nathan Phillips, the Native American in the video beating his drum. Soave also described the Black Hebrew Israelites as well. It’s a racist, homophobic, and all-around kooky group who thinks their members are descendants from the tribes of Israel (via Reason):
Partial video footage of students from a Catholic high school allegedly harassing a Native American ... after the anti-abortion March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday quickly went viral, provoking widespread condemnation of the kids on social media. Various media figures and Twitter users called for them to be doxed, shamed, or otherwise punished, and school administrators said they would consider expulsion.
Far from engaging in racially motivated harassment, the group of mostly white, MAGA-hat-wearing male teenagers remained relatively calm and restrained despite being subjected to incessant racist, homophobic, and bigoted verbal abuse by members of the bizarre religious sect Black Hebrew Israelites, who were lurking nearby.
Phillips put himself between the teens and the black nationalists, chanting and drumming as he marched straight into the middle of the group of young people. What followed was several minutes of confusion: The teens couldn't quite decide whether Phillips was on their side or not, but tentatively joined in his chanting. It's not at all clear this was intended as an act of mockery rather than solidarity.
One student did not get out of Phillips way as he marched, and gave the man a hard stare and a smile that many have described as creepy. This moment received the most media coverage: The teen has been called the product of a "hate factory" and likened to a school shooter, segregation-era racist, and member of the Klu Klux Klan. I have no idea what he was thinking, but portraying this as an example of obvious, racially-motivated hate is a stretch. Maybe he simply had no idea why this man was drumming in his face, and couldn't quite figure out the best response? It bears repeating that Phillips approached him, not the other way around.
And that's all there is to it. Phillips walked away after several minutes, the Black Hebrew Israelites continued to insult the crowd, and nothing else happened.
It was at this moment that Phillips, who had attended a nearby peace protest led by indigenous peoples, decided to intervene. He would later tell The Detroit Free Press that the teenagers "were in the process of attacking these four black individuals" and he decided to attempt to de-escalate the situation. He seems profoundly mistaken
He also claimed that he heard chants of "build the wall." While I cannot rule out the possibility that some of the kids indeed chanted this—those who were wearing MAGA hats are presumably Trump supporters—I did not hear a single utterance of the phrase in the nearly two hours of video footage I watched.
Someone spliced together multiple videos taken from the incident that doesn’t support Phillips’ account in the slightest, though it is suggested the some of the students acted insensitively [Warning: some graphic language]:
The student at the center of the video, Nick Sandmann, has also spoken out, and also says that none of the things Phillips alleged ever happened (via NBC News):
Sandmann said Sunday that when his group arrived at the Lincoln Memorial, the site of the Indigenous Peoples March, on Friday, he heard "four African American protestors" who he said directed "derogatory insults at our school group."
"They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would 'harvest his organs,'" Sandmann said. "I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear."
Sandmann said that, with the permission of a teacher who was serving as a chaperone, he began leading the group of students in school spirit chants "to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group."
After a few minutes, the native protestors began approaching, he said, "accompanied by at least one person with a camera."
Referring to Phillips, Sandmann said: "I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.
So, taking away all the nonsense, some people who are part of some whacko cult shouted obscenities, Phillips got in the middle of it, and some high school students wearing MAGA hats did sports chant. Is that what this kerfuffle is all about? Is that what got these students in trouble with their school, which has said expulsion is on the table as they conduct a nonsensical investigation into this matter? Would this even have been an issue if the kids were wearing hats or beanies of their favorite professional sports teams? It was the MAGA that set off the political correctness fire. It’s the anti-Trump ethos that has infected the news media, making them stupider by the day. It’s a mess, and it’s not going to get any better.