While browsing the news later last weekend, I stumbled upon this Covington Catholic High School story that took place at the Lincoln Memorial last week. I didn't want to jump to any conclusions without knowing a little more context.
My understanding of what occurred in Washington DC was at some point, several Black Hebrew Israelites were shouting insults at some of the Covington Catholic kids who were wearing MAGA hats and there to support the pro-life cause. Apparently, the kids were standing in a group near the Lincoln Memorial waiting to catch their bus. After much time and many insults, a Native American activist and Omaha elder (Nathan Phillips) and several other Native Americans allegedly went and stood in front of the kids to supposedly protect them from the BHI. As more and more news stories and podcasts covered this story to decide how it all went down, I wanted more context.
Over the weekend, thanks to the Twitter amplification event about the initial short video, the majority of commentary centered around the lack of respect the high school kids showed Nathan Phillips. Once more people obtained additional information and saw additional videos with more nuanced footage, the Twitter mob began to go after those who initially scolded the kids.
To obtain a more comprehensive picture of what occurred, I spent about 45 minutes reviewing the almost 2-hour long video.
My initial takeaway, If you want trouble, strife or questionable publicity, it's easy to find. What's sometimes hard to do but works out best, in the end, is to avoid confrontation and potentially dangerous situations whenever possible.
I see enough blame to go around. However, I'm not saying the BHI were fewer instigators, but those around them or a recipient of their insults can choose to go elsewhere and protest or walk away.
Who are the initial instigators? Should the Black Hebrew Israelites be to blame due to the fact they were hurling insults at many of the demonstrators and visitors regardless of the cause? Should they have been arrested for disorderly conduct for inciting this disturbance?
What about the Covington Catholic High School kids? Was Nick Sandmann, the one young man who stood in front of the Nathan Phillips correct in saying that he did nothing wrong. Indeed, he had the right to be there but did he handle things correctly? Could he have walked or stepped aside while the elder was drumming and praying in front of him and avoided the confrontation? Was he after his 15 minutes of fame? Where were the chaperones when they saw this could escalate to diffuse the situation? Even though it's his right to do so, did he or the chaperones realize the potential inflammatory problem with the MAGA hat? Being from a small town in Kentucky, was it explained to him the potential issue of wearing that hat? Did some of the high school boys insult Nathan Phillips while he drummed and prayed?
Nick Sandmann did say after the event he and his classmates were taunted by the BHI. According to the video, this went on for a long time. Covington chaperones, you're watching over a group of teenage men and when a situation like this begins to escalate, why did you take no action?
What about Nathan Phillips? He claimed he went in front of the high school kids to protect them from the Black Hebrew Israelites? Could he have counseled the boys and told them to move to another area to avoid the insults from the BHI? He claimed he was praying when it appeared he was surrounded by several high school student. Why didn't he, after a minute or two move away from the high school group in order to have a clear path to the Lincoln Memorial? In addition, did he have any idea that his drumming and praying so close to other individuals might be perceived as abrasive behavior?
Lack of respect and lack of proper social decorum could be seen by all three of these groups. I'm going to see the silver lining here and say it's fortunate no physical harm was done to anyone here, perhaps next time might be different.
As said earlier, if you want trouble, strife or questionable publicity, it's quite easy to find. What's sometimes hard to do but works out best ultimately is to avoid confrontation and potentially dangerous situations whenever possible.