Monday, January 21, 2019

Quote of the Day

The viral video that seemed to show a white teenager [Nick Sandmann] in a MAGA ["Make America Great Again"] hat harassing a Native American elder [Nathan Phillips] near the Lincoln Memorial turns out to have captured a more complicated conflict. The clip, which drew widespread condemnation over the holiday weekend, appeared to depict a then-unidentified teenager silently leering in the face of a Native American man who was beating a traditional drum. The teenager was surrounded by dozens of rowdy peers from the all-male Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, who were in town to attend the anti-abortion March for Life; the man was participating in the annual Indigenous People’s March the same day.

. . . [W]hat everyone saw so clearly in the initial clip, and what hasn’t changed with the additional information [is] Sandmann’s smirk, and his failure to get out of Phillips’s face. I [previously] described Sandmann’s expression . . . as “The face that sneers, ‘What? I’m just standing here,’ if you flinch or cry or lash out.” Or, as Sandmann put it in his statement, “I never interacted with this protester. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves.”

. . . The new facts about this small encounter this weekend in Washington are important, and worth clarifying. But they don’t change the larger story, the one that caused so many people to react so viscerally to the narrative’s first, and simpler draft. We shouldn’t make the same mistake the president does when he confuses climate and weather. The weather is the encounter between Sandmann and Phillips, and it’s the media’s responsibility to describe it accurately (once we’ve decided to describe it at all). The climate includes a president whose name is used as a taunt by school bullies and racist harassers, who wields the rhetoric of domestic violence to cause pain and then blame those who are suffering, who delights in teasing and threatening his enemies, and who just last week made a joke about a government massacre of Native Americans. It would be a mistake to let our preexisting views persuade us to see something in this particular video that isn’t there. But it would also be misguided to let the complexities of the scene at the Lincoln Memorial dissuade us from telling the truth about who Trump is and exactly what he stands for.

– Ruth Graham
Excerpted from "The MAGA Teens Aren’t Innocent Victims"
January 21, 2019

Related Off-site Links:
Don't Doubt What You Saw With Your Own Eyes – Laura Wagner (The Concourse, January 21, 2019).
Native American Elder Says He Approached MAGA-Clad Teens to Defuse Argument With Black Protesters – Daniel Politi Slate, January 20, 2019).
Kentucky Catholic Diocese Condemns Teens Who Taunted Vet at March for Life – Michelle Boorstein (The Washington Post, January 20, 2019).
Native American Congresswoman Condemns White Teens Who Taunted an Omaha ElderMother Jones (January 19, 2019).
Here’s Why Trump Is Responsible for Our Collective National Two Minutes of Hate – Juan Cole (AlterNet, January 21, 2019).
Why Trump's MAGA Hats Have Become a Potent Symbol of Racism – Issac Bailey (CNN, January 21, 2019).
Black Kids Aren't Afforded White MAGA Teens' Presumed Innocence – Noel Ransome (Vice, January 21, 2019).
Powerful Photos From the Indigenous Peoples March on Washington – Hanna Wallis (Teen Vogue, January 19, 2019).

UPDATES: Defenders of the MAGA-hat Youth: Spare Us Your Concern for Children, Please – Bob Cesca (Salon, January 22, 2019).
The MAGA Boys Are Racist Brats – Kelly Hayes (TruthOut, January 23, 2019).
The MAGA Teens Knew They Would Get the Benefit of the Doubt – Jay Willis (GQ, January 22, 2019).
Trump Slams Media Over Portrayal of Confrontation Between Catholic Students and Tribal Elder – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Kristine Phillips (The Washington Post, January 22, 2019).
Viral Standoff Between a Tribal Elder and a High Schooler Is More Complicated Than It First Seemed – Michael E. Miller (The Washington Post, (January 22, 2019).
Native American Man From Viral Video Offers to Meet with Catholic Students and Leaders – Jack Jenkins (Religion News Service via The National Catholic Reporter, January 22, 2019).
Nathan Phillips and the Boys from Covington: What Does This Ugly Encounter Say About America? – Chauncey Devega (Salon, January 22, 2019).
Parkland Survivor David Hogg Sees Double Standard in Defense of Covington Catholic Students – Jessica Schladebeck (, January 23, 2019).
White America’s Need for White Heroes – John Pavlovitz (, January 23, 2019).
How Conservative Media Transformed the Covington Catholic Students from Pariahs to Heroes – Jason Wilson (The Guardian, January 23, 2019).
Bishop Stowe: Pro-Lifers Should Not Sport Slogans of President Who Denigrates and Endangers ImmigrantsMillennial (January 24, 2019).
Jeering White Boys and the Smirking Face of Trumpism in America – Rafia Zakaria (The Buffler, January 24, 2019).
Portraying the MAGA Teens as Victims Is an Extension of Native American Erasure – Nick Estes (The Intercept, January 24, 2019).
Why “Both Sides” of a Story Aren’t Enough – Cory Collins (, January 25, 2019).
Nathan Phillips, Yalitza Aparicio and the Long History of Media (Mis)representation of Native Peoples – N. Bird Runningwater (The Hollywood Reporter, January 25, 2019).
Anti-racist Activist Tim Wise: Here's What I'd Tell the Covington Catholic Boys – Chauncey Devega (Salon, January 28, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
In Charlottesville, the Face of Terrorism in the U.S.
Trump's Playbook
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
A Profoundly Troubling and Tragic Indictment
Michael Sean Winters: "The Entire Republican Establishment Has Caved to Trumpism"

Image: KC Noland/YouTube.


Franco Manni said...

i think the very opposite. The Catholic students are indeed the victims of this witch hunt ...where the abuser (the old native American vet) is the real harasser:

these self-righteous 'liberals' are the new pharisees in my opinion.

Also , where such an amazing amount of hatred come from (read the tweets)?

I think the causes are complex, ideological for sure, but, in my opinion most of all psychoanalytical.

Franco Manni said...

After a few days, I come here again suggesting to read this moderate and sensitive report. It is worth reading for two two reasons:1) it reports the try facts in complete way (without purposeful omissions) ;
2) it is 'deep' : I mean it is able to draw the most important ethical lesson from the collection of facts

Franco Manni said...

Ooops sorry I forgot the link to the article!

Here it is:

Michael J. Bayly said...

We're going to have to agree to disagree on this one, Franco. . . . I think any way you look at it, those young men's behavior was deplorable.

And I appreciate Jay Willis' take on the matter when, in his January 22 piece for GQ, he writes: "None of the excuses made on behalf of these kids are capable of withstanding the slightest bit of intellectually-honest scrutiny. . . . [None] of the purported 'extended clips,' disseminated by conservative journalists as if they were mini-Zapruder films, exonerate Sandmann and his friends. Some of them even serve as more damning indictments of the students' conduct."