The teens from Covington Catholic represent everything too many on the left love to hate.
As this essay notes,
“Every year, on or near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, hundreds of thousands of Americans go to Washington, D. C., to join the March for Life and protest that infamous decision. The March for Life is peaceful and orderly, and every year the major media outlets contrive to pretend it doesn’t exist.
“Until this year.”
Whether because the sheer size of this year’s March for Life – an estimated 300,000 participants – rattled the guardians of the Left, or whether because Trump Derangement Syndrome led them to zero in on a group of Catholic schoolboys who were wearing MAGA hats (distinctive hats have become a common feature of the March, as a way for groups to hold together and identify their members), what should have been a minor, inconsequential footnote to the March has been blowing up social media ever since.
According to the dominant narrative, this group of students from all-male Covington Catholic High School, supposedly “surrounded and intimidated” a Native American “elder,” one of them reportedly committing the unpardonable sin of “smirking” as the American Indian in question chanted and drummed well inside his personal space: in fact literally inches from his face, as the picture above indicates.
I thought when I first heard this story that there had to be more to it than that, and indeed, there is!
The first point missed or ignored by the social-media SJWs is that the group of Catholic students, waiting for their bus to get home after the March, had already endured an hour of vicious and vitriolic taunts by members of an activist religious sect called the Black Hebrew Israelites, who hurled invectives and obscenities at the students, calling them crackers, faggots, and pedophiles, and threatening them with violence. Why the BHI were even in the area is something which has not, so far as I know, been made clear.
Needless to say, the situation was already tense! The students requested, and received, permission from their adult chaperones to begin singing school-spirit chants in an attempt to drown out the abuse coming from the BHI activists. As a much longer video makes clear, at no point did the students move toward the activists, or behave in any other sort of threatening manner toward them, despite intense and prolonged provocation.
Cue the Native American activists.
Led by the drummer, Nathan Phillips, a USMC veteran (but see this) who has nonetheless become known as a left-wing activist, a small group of American Indians who who had attended a nearby peace protest led by indigenous peoples approached the students, who Phillips characterized in a statement (though for no discernible reason) as “beasts.” He himself marched right into the middle of the group, until he encountered Nick Sandmann, the Covington student in the middle of the controversy, who simply stood his ground, neither behaving in a threatening way, nor making any aggressive moves while Phillips drummed right in his face.
N.B. – A Note on Personal Space: An excerpt from Dimensions of Body Language, published on a Toastmasters website, (Chapter 9: “Personal Space Ownership”), notes the following “zones” common to Western cultures:
The “Intimate Zone,” 6–18 inches, where “only those emotionally close to us are permitted to enter”; the “Personal Zone,” 18–48 inches [commonly standardized at approximately 3 feet], “the distance we stand from others at cocktail parties, office parties, social functions and friendly gatherings”; the “Social Zone,” 4–12 feet, the distance at which we stand from strangers and others we do not know very well; and the “Public (or Audience) Zone,” which is over 12 feet.
If the photo above is accurate, Phillips was not only inside Sandmann’s social zone, and inside his personal zone, but he was inside his intimate zone, as he drummed: with no explanation, and certainly with no consent (that hallowed principle of today’s Left) on the part of Sandmann, for him to be there at all. That Sandmann would have been uncomfortable and ill at ease under such conditions is a no-brainer! Heck, I would have been, myself.
The fact that a tight smile played across his lips – which Sandmann himself explains as “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” – should come as no surprise to anyone. To interpret this as mocking or disparaging the culture of someone who had clearly provoked a confrontation with him does violence to both language and reason.
The whole situation was characterized by tension and confusion. The students clearly did not understand why the Native activists were there, or what they hoped to accomplish. Sandmann states, credibly enough, that he was “startled and confused as to why [Phillips] had approached me,” and the author of the Chronicles post linked above points out that
“All things considered, the teen showed admirable restraint, far more than most other teenaged boys would have and far more than [those engaged in the social-media firestorm following this incident] were able to summon even though they were tweeting from their easy chairs and without a stranger getting in their face.”
Here I have to make a personal statement: I have a huge amount of respect for our Native American brothers and sisters, and a great deal of sorrow and regret for the way in which they have sometimes been treated by people of European heritage. My respect and interest has led me to take courses on American Indian culture and spirituality at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and I have had the pleasure and privilege of interacting with indigenous peoples in a number of different contexts.
That said, if a Native person were to force his way into a group of my companions, with no invitation or even explanation, and proceed to breech my personal space and start drumming within a few inches from my face, I do not know how else I could interpret that but as an attempt at intimidation. If that were ever to occur, I hope that I would have the grace, the presence of mind, and the equanimity to respond in as measured and non-confrontational a manner as did this young man, Nick Sandmann.
For more information, here again is a link to the longer article from the Reason website I have also quoted from, above.