UPDATED to include links as they come in.
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A false narrative diverts attention from hundreds of thousands at the March for Life,
The occasion of 2019 Annual March for Life was the scene of quite an unsettling encounter. At first blush, media narratives and abbreviated video clips appeared to show a ‘smirking’ young high school student. Wearing a Make America Great Again (MAGA) cap, he stood closely facing an ageing Native American man. The Native American, Nathan Phillips, was rhythmically beating on a native drum as it appeared that he was surrounded by a gathering mob of unruly teens. In the video, the teens are clapping, laughing, and chanting.
Unfortunately, the initiation of this encounter failed to be shown in the shortened clips. In viewing a more complete, extended version, a clearer picture develops. The students, who were waiting for their bus on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, had actually been there for quite a while.
The first altercation relative to these students had already occurred. According to CatholicVote,
It all started when four Black Hebrew Israelites, a radical religious group centered on black identity, approached the Covington Catholic students and began heckling them with anti-gay slurs — for almost an hour. In response, the students tried to be positive, and began singing school spirit songs.
A statement from the young man in question, Nick Sandmann, tells a different story. “They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.” Some videos show the Black Hebrew Israelites pointing out the MAGA hats and taunting the boys not to “touch him”, referring to Phillips.
A Second Altercation
It was after this, that the incident with Phillips and the youth began. By viewing this video, it is clear there is initially ample space in front of the youth group waiting for their bus. We first see Phillips simply beating his drum, while assessing the group. He walks slowly into their midst. Then his focus falls on the accused young man, Nick Sandmann, wearing a red MAGA cap.
His focus thus engaged, Phillips proceeds to drum for several more minutes while the young man stands his ground. The other youths begin to notice. The students begin to clap in time with the drumming, smiling, and observing. Some students are facing away from the scene and engaged in their own chants. We now know that they had asked permission from a chaperone and were engaged in school spirit cheers.
Our chaperone gave us permission to use our school chants. We would not have done that without obtaining permission from the adults in charge of our group…Our chants were loud because we wanted to drown out the hateful comments that were being shouted at us by the protestors (sic). Nick Sandmann
The Larger Picture
In the following video, at the 1:35 mark, another Native American adult approaches the youth and begins his own interaction with a student. We also hear him addressing the student, “Why don’t you white people go back to Europe, where you’ve been before. As the clip continues (at about the 1:40 mark), the second adult begins to curse and says, “This is not your land. This is our land…we’ve been here millions (expletives) years”. Meanwhile, other adults, who appear to be with Phillips, are seen filming and encroaching into the group of students.
Far from what initial portrayal described, Nick shares his thoughts at that moment. “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.” He added that his smile was an attempt to neutralize the situation and show that there was no malice intended.”
I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor (sic). I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.
When he heard one of his fellow students begin to respond, Nick motioned to his classmate in an attempt to stop the engagement. This is seen in some available videos. Nick said that he was, “still in the mindset that we needed to calm down tensions”.
The full transcript of the young man’s account can be read in this article. As the bus arrived, the students boarded without further incident.
A tragic aspect of this event is the irreparable harm done to these young pro-life advocates. Their names and personal information now publicly appear across the country – purposely shared via social media. They report receiving death threats and some are now in hiding. Even their own principal and diocese jumped to a false conclusion, based on a narrowly drawn narrative. Both principal Robert Rowe and Bishop Roger Joseph Foys of Covington issued public apologies to Mr. Phillips before ascertaining the full story.
It is now evident that these students are the ones due an apology. Yet, a multitude of harmful stories ran unfettered for days. Many, who are thus misinformed, continue to hold falsehood as fact. Even after exposure of the truth and some apologies, the reputations of these students are tarnished. As of the evening of Monday, January 21, 2019, neither the diocese nor the principal of Covington Catholic HS had rescinded their statements.
The other, far-reaching and devastating aspect of this occurrence involves the annual March for Life itself. Every year, since the legalization of abortion in 1973, stalwart pro-life advocates have marched – often during freezing, inclement weather. They continue their selfless purpose of providing voices for the voiceless – the unborn babies. This event has become so significant that Vice President and Mrs. Pence personally attended to speak to the crowd. President Trump also appeared in a taped message of support and a promise to veto pro-abortion legislation. The keynote speaker was none other than renowned personality Ben Shapiro. With all of these and many more eminent attendees and speakers, the media still remain silent. Yet, poorly attended liberal marches, like the Women’s March garner much publicity.
Most people in America remain largely unaware of the sheer magnitude of the faithful crowds and illustrious participants at the March for Life. Lack of media coverage is the main contributor to this. No networks and only Fox News cable station reported this year’s March for Life. This has been the case since the very first March for Life.
Intentional Scandal and Calumny
Conversely, even our small local paper and news networks picked up and spread the salacious false narrative concerning the youth and Native Americans. In addition to the lack of positive media coverage and misleading coverage, attention was misdirected from the importance of the March for Life. Instead, the reputation of the March and those who participate are represented in a false light. While tens of millions of young victims have had their innocent lives snuffed out via abortion, scandal – even manufactured scandal – finds a willing audience.
We now also know that the Native American drummer, Phillips is an actor who has starred in an anti-police video. His interaction with the high school students from Covington Catholic High School is also not his first such accusation. In considering available facts, there is a certain sense of deja vu.
Phillips is a known activist and has been in the news before. In 2015, he apparently approached college students and claimed racial harassment. Phillips stated that by approaching the students, he was “trying to teach a few students dressed in American Indian theme party about respecting Native Americans”. In 2017, he was also photographed at an anti-Trump protest at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. While this additional information alone may not prove malice on the part of Phillips, the knowledge of past behaviors certainly has its place when considering the full truth.
March for Life Proud
This media circus provides a valuable lesson. While the downward moral spiral in society continues, many more such situations will arise. The first takeaway should be to seek facts before believing the secular media hype. The ill-will directed toward the faithful only promises to become even more blatant. It appears that proof is no longer needed to cast aspersions against Christians. Too many- even Catholic dioceses, schools, and citizens – are willing to believe the worst simply because it is reported. Let us take care before embracing calumnious allegations.
We should be proud of our young people, who are so willing to stand against the world in their support of the unborn. The attendees are truly present day heroes and the schools supporting them should be praised. At a time when morality is at such a low point and secularization encroaches on every aspect of the teachings of Christ, every Christian is obligated to support moral endeavors. When Jesus told us to be in the world but not of the world, He encouraged just this type of moral activism – support of the helpless and comfort of those in a trial.
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NOTE: To support a media apology to the Covington Catholic High School students, consider signing this petition on their behalf.
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More links will appear below (newest first) as updates occur:
Video of Indian activist, Nathan Phillips, and others trying to disrupt the Holy Sacrifice of Mass – vigil for March for Life 2019
Covington Bishop Apologizes to Covington Catholic Students
LA DJ Calls For Covington Catholic School to be Burned Down – With Kids Locked Inside here
Trump to meet Covington students at White House: report here
Covington Catholic Forced to Close After Students and Staff Receive Death Threats here
UPDATE Tuesday, January 22, 2019 – 1:18 PM: Where do we go from here? We need to find solidarity in the pro-life movement.