'MAGA students vs. Native American vet' a false narrative

Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)

media news industry (illustration)After the mainstream media’s extensive coverage of Trump-supporting high school students mocking an elderly Native American veteran while he peacefully beat his drum, new evidence proves that the presented account of the situation was false.

The video-gone viral on social media portrayed several male students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky wearing red “Make America Great Again” baseball caps as they chanted phrases like “build the wall” and seemingly intimidated the United States military veteran, Nathan Phillips, while they attended the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., but the context of what was really happening shows the boys in a different light.

Initial responses to the viral video and news coverage condemned the students for their disrespectful antics.

“Based on the early evidence and claims, it looked like an ugly display of youthful intolerance and bullying,” Townhall’s Guy Benson recounted. “Many who saw the initial tweets condemned the boys' conduct, including myself.”

Wait a minute here …

However, after a closer examination of the so-called disturbing event, it is now clearly evident that the rendition of the event blazing across social media and the mainstream media was a misinterpretation of what actually happened.

“In the hours and days since those first snapshots of the encounter made the rounds, however, it has become crystal clear that the original narrative was hugely misleading,” Benson divulged. “Additional videos from different angles began to emerge, proving that the students did not swarm or try to block the drum-toting man; rather, he proactively approached them.” 

In addition, new information shows that it was the MAGA boys who were ones targeted for discrimination.

“We also learned that a small group of African-American men were hurling racial and homophobic insults at the boys, singling out the small number of non-white students in the group for especially grotesque abuse – including creepily telling a black student that his classmates would harvest his organs,” Benson continued.

And the seemingly peaceful American Indian veteran turned out to be not so innocent.

“The drum-beating Native American 'victim' was accompanied by someone who screamed at the students to ‘go back to Europe,’ profanely hectoring them over 'stolen' land,” Benson stressed. “And the drummer himself acted strangely, choosing to approach one of the students wearing a red hat to play his instrument within inches of the boy's face.”

Different vantage points of the incident reveal that the MAGA students were not the unprovoked troublemaking rebel-rousers who they originally appeared to be.  

“Having viewed more videos and read statements published by several of the students (who have become Internet hate objects, some getting harassed and doxxed – including a number who weren’t even in D.C. for the incident – by unhinged strangers), it is now beyond dispute that the first impression of his controversy was wrong,” Benson informed. “If anything, most of the teenagers behaved better than any of the adults who tried to provoke them, whether intentionally (the overtly hateful trolls) or unintentionally (it's unclear exactly what the Native American man was trying to do).”

An even-handed account

One neutral account of what took place was shared by a blogger who initially expressed revulsion over the students’ disrespect, but after learning more about what really happened, he ended up excusing the students’ behavior and condemning the Native American man for baiting the boys in order to spin the deceptive incident against them before selling his “victimhood tale” to the media.

“The rest of the video – nearly two hours of additional footage showing what happened before and after the encounter – adds important context that strongly contradicts the media's narrative,” Reason’s Robby Soave explained. “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.”

The narrative of the re-visited incident exposed further more of what actually happened behind the scenes that the mainstream media (and social media video) failed to reveal.

“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,” the account continued. “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 Ku 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...”

The accuser – who claims to be a former Marine and Vietnam vet – did his best to sell his discrimination story against the predominantly white group of teenagers to America through the media.

“Mr. Phillips has gone on television and accused the students of being vessels of violent hatred, claiming that they were somehow attacking the black men who were, in reality, the true aggressors – tormenting the teens with vile insults,” Benson noted. 

Not so fast …

But Phillips’ rendition was quickly debunked when new facts were learned.

"[A]ll the evidence suggests that Phillips got it backward," Soave concluded.

As more facts about the incident continue to pour in, Phillips is now backtracking his initial accounts – indicating that he had an agenda against the boys when disseminating his story to the media.

“Furthermore, Phillips' version of events – which has changed dramatically as more evidence has come to light – ‘is at best flawed, and arguably deliberately misleading,’" Benson explained. “After viewing the available video and reading statements from two of the boys (including the teenager who became ‘the face’ of the episode), it seems quite obvious that the students' detailed accounts are at least much closer to the truth than the media storyline that first circulated, and it is now beyond dispute that the worst actors of the whole lot, by far, were the members of the ‘Black Hebrew Israelites,’ whose cartoonishly bigoted invective was appalling.”

Deception noted and exposed

Even though the high school boys could have conducted themselves better in the situation, it is argued that given the circumstances, they could have reacted a lot worse after being intentionally provoked and set up by adults.

“There was far more than met the eye to the Covington Catholic story, but that didn’t stop the popular press from vilifying its students,” National Review reported. “If you’re in a public place and someone starts heckling you, are you entitled to heckle back? How about if someone does something much worse than heckling you in a public place? What if that person, in fact, takes a drum up to you and starts banging it in your face? Are you entitled to heckle back? How about smirking? Are you allowed to smirk? I think you are, even if you’re wearing a MAGA hat – even if you’re an entitled brat … even if you’re an entitled Catholic brat.”

Even though the boys’ behavior was not fully excused, Phillips’ intent has been viewed as much more reprehensible.

“We’ll stipulate that the Catholic boys from a high school in Kentucky were a little obnoxious when an indigenous man named Nathan Phillips banged a drum at them in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Friday, [b]ut Phillips was being a lot more obnoxious,” National Review’s Kyle Smith insisted. “To put it another way, if you were minding your own business in a public place and someone came right up to you and put a drum up to your face and made a huge racket inches from your nose, would you be happy about it?”

It was contended that the boys were targeted for slander not because of who they are, but because of what they represent.

“The kids from Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Ky., were ambassadors for causes much bigger than themselves: Catholicism and the right to life,” Smith pointed out. “As such, they should have comported themselves better than to jeer and do a tomahawk chop in front of Phillips. Ideally, the kids would have ignored him and walked away. Until about 10 minutes ago, it was broadly agreed in our culture that kids are allowed to do some dumb things because they’re kids. Should these kids’ lives be ruined because some of them responded to obnoxious provocation by being a bit rude themselves? I’d say their reaction was, if anything, more restrained than you would expect from teenagers. I’d advise them to do better next time. I certainly wouldn’t consider expulsion.”

It is argued that Phillips was much more polished in selling a story – and he got the upper hand … at least in the beginning.

“Phillips, on the other hand, is an adult, and he repeatedly lied about what happened to the Washington Post, which was utterly taken in by him and reported everything he said uncritically,” Smith said as an aside. “Nathan Phillips lied, [and] the media bought it.”

The Native American’s rendition of the story spun things in a totally different direction, making himself and the group of antagonizers appear to be the victims of racist behavior at the hands of “privileged” white boys.

“[The Covington kids] were in the process of attacking these four black individuals,” Smith claimed while speaking with the Free Press, according to National Review. “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.”


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