One of the most viral stories on the internet right now is a video of a teenage kid from Kentucky staring into the eyes of a Native American Marine Corps veteran as he played his drum and chanted. A brief clip of an hour and a half long video has been picked up by mainstream media across the country and paraded around as evidence of ‘disgusting hatred and racism.’ But is that what it really shows?
Over the weekend, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) ― one of the first Native American women to be elected to Congress ― said the students displayed “blatant hate” against the veteran, Nathan Phillips.
“This Veteran put his life on the line for our country,” Haaland said on Twitter. “The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking.”
Headlines across the web painted this Kentucky teenager as a harassing little Hitler, as calls for him and his family to be killed flooded social media. It was a full on digital lynching.
Certainly, if this kid from Kentucky hurled racist insults, attacked, threatened, or attempted to hurt Phillips in any way, he should be exposed for it. But when examining the entire video, we simply do not see any evidence of this.
I will be the first to admit just how creepy the video of Nick Sandmann, the Covington student in the middle of the controversy, staring into the face of Phillips is. But is this racist and hateful?
Because of this media coverage, this kid has been called the product of a “hate factory” compared to a school shooter, segregation-era racist, and member of the Ku Klux Klan. But does staring into the face of a Native American rise to such claims?
The short clip published to the majority of the mainstream media websites as seen above does not show what happened before the two folks got into a staring match.
The Free Thought Project reviewed a much longer video of this situation and it paints a far different picture than what the media is telling you.
Prior to the children interacting with the Native American protests, they were subject to disgusting racist threats from a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites near the Lincoln Memorial.
The BHI was seen on camera hurling insults at the children, calling them crackers, faggots, pedophiles, and peckerwoods. They are even seen at the 37 minute mark insulting the Native Americans for talking to these kids by calling them “Uncle Tom(ahawks.)”
At one point in the video, the BHI protesters tell a black student in the group that his white friends are going to “harvest his organs.” The hateful slurs came to a head when the BHI protesters—who are outspoken for their anti-LGBTQ stance—yelled that “you give faggots rights.”
This prompted the high school kids to counter their hate with “boos,” clearly showing that they stand up for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
At no time during the video did I see any of the students hurling racial slurs or acting in a similar manner to the BHI protesters.
These kids were at the Lincoln Memorial to be picked up by their bus and as they waited, they were verbally accosted by a hateful group of people. They are children who have never experienced anything like this and, according to Sandmann, they asked their chaperone to engage in a school chant to counter that hate. After getting permission, that’s what they did.
As the students chanted a G-rated school cheer, the Native American group was also drumming and chanting. At one point, the two groups would be right next to each other and the students would begin chanting along with the drums. Whether this was an act of mockery was not clear, but for a moment, it appeared to be an act of solidarity, aside from a few of the kids laughing. Again, these are kids who have found themselves in a crazy situation. It appears they are just trying to have fun.
It was at this point that Phillips approached the group, was let in to the circle and then singled out Sandmann. While the media made it look like Sandmann approached Phillips, this was not the case and it is evident from the video. In a statement released through his school, Sandmann explained what happened.
The protestor everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.
I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me.
I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.
When watching the entire video, it is clear that this kid never approached Phillips, never said anything derogatory, never did so much as raise a finger, but for standing there as Phillips beat his drum, he is painted as a product of a “hate factory” and a member of the Ku Klux Klan by the media.
As stated above, it was creepy to just stare at Phillips as he beat his drum, but remember, this is a kid who has never been in any situation remotely close to what he’s seeing. He was confused and afraid of what was going on. So, why would the media ignore the actual threats of violence and hateful rhetoric and focus on some socially awkward kid in the wrong place at the wrong time?
The easy answer to that question is because this kid had on a MAGA hat which made targeting him acceptable and fair game. Because Trump is an easy target for all media and essentially any insult or threat against him is acceptable, by proxy, this kid was also fair game. Had he worn a Clinton hat, this story would’ve likely played out differently.
I’ll be the first to admit that when I read the headlines of this kid and saw him in a MAGA hat, all the stereotypes of belligerent Trump supporters began to fill my head. But to honestly assess the situation, we had to dig deeper.
What this case illustrates is the media’s power to manipulate outrage among those who blindly consume it. By failing to tell the entire story, preconceived stereotypes are used to stoke a divisive picture that is destined to get clicks and views.
Society’s own biases are being used against us to sell false hatred and it’s making these companies billions of dollars.
Just as the Gillette commercial was used to provoke outrage on the right, this kid in a MAGA hat was used to stoke outrage on the left. The inevitable results of such divisive tactics are a less cohesive society and a windfall of profits for those who keep us fighting.
Aside from making these information controllers billions of dollars, the constant bombardment of divisive horse shit is contributing to the rise of actual racism.
Racism in this country is trying to die, but the media is fervently attempting to keep it alive.
Neo-Nazis and white supremacists have been fading away for years—because their ideas are absurd, ignorant, and reflect society’s worst. Their ranks were diminishing and their tactics and mission of supremacy based on skin color had become laughable. However, in the past few years, anti-white rhetoric—which is now somehow considered acceptable—has fueled hatred and served as a catalyst in the growing movement of white nationalist socialists.
By concentrating on skin color — instead of a person’s character — a massive “anti-white” movement was born and subsequently pushed through the mainstream media, and thus the dying white supremacy movement was given new life.
Hate groups in the US grew from 784 in 2014 to 892 in 2015, a 14 percent increase, according to 2016 data by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
From 2014 to 2015, the number of active Klu Klux Klan chapters in the United States grew from 72 to 190, a massive increase for a group so closely associated with hatred.
The overwhelming majority of people simply want to get along and these battles covered or contrived by the mainstream media of white nationalists and leftist radicals brawling in the streets are highly uncommon. They are so uncommon, in fact, that as this story illustrates, they need to be manufactured. Real hate groups represent a very small minority of society, yet the media devotes hundreds of hours of coverage to them, to get clicks and to keep you divided.
Only through seeking a lesser ignorance and questioning everything we see and read will we remain vigilant in this information war. Please share this story with your friends and family in hopes to allow them to see the full picture, not just what their TVs need them to see.