Earlier this week, a group of teenagers from a Catholic school in the US appearing to mock activists, sparked outrage. The viral video posted on social media showed Covington Catholic High School students wearing MAGA hats and laughing, allegedly taunting the protesters. Kaya Taitano, who uploaded the clip, told CNN that some of the teenagers were yelling “Build the wall” and “Trump 2020.” Prominent in the clip was the teenager, now identified as Covington junior student Nick Sandmann, staring down and standing inches in front of Native American leader and war veteran Nathan Phillips who was chanting and drumming, reportedly to diffuse the heated stand-off between the two groups.
Though the school issued an apology, stating that “We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general,” adding that “This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person,” the students—specifically, Nick—remain unapologetic. In an interview with NBC’s Today show, he said, “I mean, in hindsight, I wish we could’ve walked away and avoided the whole thing. But I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there.”
"Do you feel from this experience that you owe anybody an apology? Do you see your own fault in any way?”
He insisted his innocence, claiming, “We’re a Catholic school and it’s not tolerated. They don’t tolerate racism, and none of my classmates are racist people.” Furthermore, in regards to what many describe as his smirk, Nick explained, “I see it as a smile, saying that this is the best you’re going to get out of me. You won’t get any further reaction of aggression. And I’m willing to stand here as long as you want to hit this drum in my face.” But many netizens don’t buy it, especially since it was revealed that his family hired the services of a PR firm.
Stop the damn gaslighting of America. None of these kids is looking 'scared' or looking to 'defuse' the situation. They're laughing, mocking, taunting, being disrespectful and egging this kid on. It's 100% obvious what they're all doing… #NathanPhillipshttps://t.co/dGAjC6i7bX
Since the viral video first made headlines, new reports have come out that Covington Catholic High School students were also allegedly making misogynistic comments to women. In a short clip, one teen can be heard saying: “It’s not rape if you enjoy it.”
Another woman posted a video on Twitter citing the Covington students, reportedly at the same event, were harassing her and her friends as they walked by, just before the incident with Nathan Phillips. She wrote, “I’m tired of reading things saying they were provoked by anyone else other than their own egos and ignorance.”
Though it’s yet to be confirmed if the teenagers in the two follow-up videos are in fact Covington students, the same narrative can be drawn from them: a group of white, privileged kids showing alarming bigotry. What’s even more frustrating is that while many condemn their actions, many still rally behind them, others even dismissing their behavior as “youthful mistake.” Probably the same people who agreed with Brett Kavanaugh’s “We’ve all done dumb things in high school that we regret” statement amid sexual assault allegations, as if the crime can easily be reduced to trivial child’s play. I think “white privilege” is a more apt explanation rather than “youthful mistake.” Let’s call it what it is. The adults defending those kids would easily be the first ones on them, had the tables been turned and Native American teenagers were the ones intimidating White elders. You know it’s true.
Besides, it was previously revealed that the students were there on a trip to attend a March for Life anti-abortion rally. Surely, if they were old enough for that, they were old enough to understand the weight of their actions. And it’s important to point out, many teenagers their age are on the other side, advocating for the human rights of marginalized people.
The earlier footage of Native American veteran Nathan Phillips being mocked by Trump supporters is so much worse. pic.twitter.com/U2EcFAoYoC
And though I do acknowledge that they may be victims of misguidance since it’s highly likely that Trump’s racism and misogyny rubbed off on them, in addition to teachings by their own parents, possibly—that doesn’t mean their action was any less deplorable. They could still change of course. But just the fact that we see people like them possibly leading the next generation—that kind of bigotry bleeding to our future—is beyond scary.
Art by Marian Hukom
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