Yesterday, an incident took place involving some Catholic high school students and an American Indian activist (my family has been in North America since 1636, I’m “Native American”) went viral.
In the initial telling an elderly American Indian drummer was taunted by a bunch of privileged white kids. This narrative fell in the “too good to check” category and was run with uncritically because the kids were a) coming from the March for Life and b) wearing MAGA hats. Reason, which is hardly Trump friendly says the whole story is distorted, knowingly or unknowingly, by the media: The Media Wildly Mischaracterized That Video of Covington Catholic Students Confronting a Native American Veteran.
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. The BHI has existed since the late 19th century, and is best describes as a black nationalist cult movement; its members believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites, and often express condemnation of white people, Christians, and gays. DC-area Black Hebrews are known to spout particularly vile bigotry.
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.
You can judge for yourself. Here is video footage of the full incident, from the perspective of the black nationalists. Phillips enters the picture around the 1:12 mark, but if you skip to that part, you miss an hour of the Black Hebrew Israelites hurling obscenities at the students. They call them crackers, faggots, and pedophiles. At the 1:20 mark (which comes after the Phillips incident) they call one of the few black students the n-word and tell him that his friends are going to murder him and steal his organs. At the 1:25 mark, they complain that “you give faggots right,” which prompted booing from the students. Throughout the video they threaten the kids with violence, and attempt to goad them into attacking first. The students resisted these taunts admirably: They laughed at the hecklers, and they perform a few of their school’s sports cheers.
And there are some other points that bear on the matter. The so-called “Indigenous Peoples March” is being treated as though it always happens. It doesn’t. As far as I can determine, this is the first time this “march” has taken place on this day which leads to the conclusion that is was scheduled on the same day as the March for Life deliberately. The march was also billed as a Resistance event. Nathan Phillips, the American Indian claiming victimhood here, has previously accused other school groups of harassing him and was a leader in the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. So, far from an innocent bystander, he’s a seasoned provocateur. He has since lied about the activity of the kids:
“They were in the process of attacking these four black individuals,” Phillip said. “I was there and I was witnessing all of this … As this kept on going on and escalating, it just got to a point where you do something or you walk away, you know? You see something that is wrong and you’re faced with that choice of right or wrong. ”
Phillips said some of the members of the Black Hebrew group were also acting up, “saying some harsh things” and that one member spit in the direction of the Catholic students. “So I put myself in between that, between a rock and hard place,” he said.
But then, the crowd of mostly male students turned their anger towards Phillips.
“There was that moment when I realized I’ve put myself between beast and prey,” Phillips said. “These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.”
Watch the video for yourself. Nothing like that happened. For my part, I’m still puzzled as how this guy became the offended party when he made the choice to get in the face of a high school kid with his tom-tom when there was ample empty space at the site.
Anyway, the left was away to the races. A National Review writer accused the kids of “spitting on the cross.”
Now we have the inevitable blaming of Trump:
I am calling for a total and complete shutdown of teenagers wearing MAGA hats until we can figure out what is going on. They seem to be poisoning young minds. [1/2] https://t.co/yq5bLd4kE2
— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) January 20, 2019
The conduct we saw in this video is beyond appalling, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum. This is a direct result of the racist hatred displayed daily by the President of the United States who, sadly, some mistake for a role model. [2/2]
— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) January 20, 2019
When I first read this I thought for sure that Yarmuth, a rather unremarkable and doctrinaire liberal backbencher, was having a bit of fun. He’s not. He’s serious. And that shows just how stupid and dangerous and desperate these people are.
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