The MAGA teens aren’t innocent victims

By Around the Web

(Slate) — The viral video that seemed to show a white teenager in a MAGA hat harassing a Native American elder 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 Indigenous Peoples March the same day.* In a post I wrote on Saturday, I described the boy’s serene, smug facial expression as “both punchable and untouchable.”

In the days that followed, new accounts and new angles on the confrontation began to emerge. Nathan Phillips, the Omaha elder and Vietnam War veteran seen in the clip, gave interviews in which he said he approached the teenagers—not the other way around—in order to defuse tension between them and some noisy and vulgar street preachers nearby. Longer videos emerged that showed the street preachers—who belong to a fringe religious group called the Black Hebrew Israelites that the Southern Poverty Law Center once described as “obsessed with hatred for whites and Jews”—shouting insults at both the boys and the Native group. Meanwhile, no footage has emerged that shows the teens shouting “build the wall,” as Phillips and other witnesses have said they did. And on Sunday, the teenager, Nick Sandmann, released a statement in which he identified himself and attempted to “correct misinformation and outright lies.” Sandmann said the students were shouting school-spirit chants to drown out the street preachers, and that Phillips seemed to single him out for confrontation. He describes himself as having “diffused the situation by remaining calm.”

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