Louis Armstrong sang “When you’re smilin’… keep on smilin’ / the whole world smiles with you.”
Only that’s not so true if you are a Catholic, pro-life, conservative, teenaged boy waiting for your bus ride home. A bunch of weirdoes can shout racist, homophobic, anti-Christian crap at you, then Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist and Omaha “elder,” can pound a drum in your face. If you stand still and do nothing but smile, you are Adolf Hitler, Jr. That happened to Nick Sandmann, a junior at Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School. Let’s take a short look at a tiny portion of the abuse that was hurled at him.
Sandmann’s smile was a “smirk” according to nearly every Leftie goblin on Earth. It and the MAGA hat on his head were conclusive proof that he was a racist and should, therefore, be beaten and have his life ruined. Ben Hoffman, a purported comic who uses the stage name Wheeler Walker, Jr, tweeted, “If you know this little s***, punch him in the nuts and send me the video of it and I’ll send you all my albums on vinyl, autographed.” When reporter Jack Posobiec tweeted that Hoffman should delete the reprehensible offer, the comic fired back, “F-ck you. I’ll delete your f-cking ass you piece of sh-t.” Sarah Beattie, a Saturday Night Live writer who likes to boast of her breast size, tweeted, “I will blow whoever manages to punch that maga kid in the face.” Michael Buchanan, a Detroit-born hip hop producer and DJ who uses the name “House Shoes,” called for the shooting of anyone in a MAGA hat: “If you are a true fan of Shoes I want you to fire on any of these red hat bitches when you see them.” Jack Morrissey, a filmmaker for Disney, was more brutal. He tweeted Sandmann and any other kid wearing a MAGA hat should be shoved screaming head first into a woodchipper. He provided an illustration of the process. Perhaps his woodchipper can set up by the statue of Walt and Mickey in Disneyland, the happiest place on Earth for those who like to see kids with the wrong political opinions ground to bloody bits. Lesser goblins posted Sandmann’s address so he and his family could be terrorized. Not satisfied with targeting just them, the goblins threatened to shoot up or burn down Covington Catholic High with its students inside.
Sandmann and the other Covington kids might have expected some support from their school and their church, but no. The Diocese of Covington and the Covington Catholic High School condemned the kids’ reported behavior, apologized to Phillips, and announced they would punish the miscreants. This could include expulsion. Other Catholic leaders and clergy joined in without soliciting the students’ side of the story. It was days before they retracted their remarks.
Some conservative voices joined with the Church and the goblins. The most egregious attack from the Right came from Nicholas Frankovich, a deputy managing editor of National Review. He posted an article, titled “The Covington Students Might as Well Have Just Spit on the Cross,” on National Review’s The Corner. In it, while not advocating the punching of anyone, he joined the lynch mob hounding the Covington students and gave their hatred a religious context. He actually wrote: “They [the students] mock a serious, frail-looking older man and gloat in their momentary role as Roman soldiers to his Christ.” Frankovich claimed to have watched several videos of the incident but somehow, despite his vigilant eyeballing, he got the story wrong. When remonstrating missives streamed into National Review, Jonah Goldberg, a columnist for the magazine, leapt to Frankovich’s defense. Goldberg (infamous for his fecal criticisms of conservative pro-Trump writers), pompously tweeted: “It’s almost like we run a magazine with different people reaching different conclusions or having different opinions. The horror.”
No, no, no, Jonah. Your NR associate helped fuel the hate storm that was inflicting real horror on a bunch of kids and their families. The kind of horror of not knowing if someone is going to kill your child because a jerk faked up a video and a bunch of knee jerk media types sanctimoniously spread it to the entire world. As you say, different people can reach different conclusions, however they can’t have different facts. If one makes a serious charge, such as comparing someone to those who killed Christ, one needs to find evidence that is more reliable than a YouTube video shot and edited by activists with an obvious agenda.
Eventually, someone at the National Review took Frankovich by the hand, sat him down with a cookie and a glass of milk, and patiently explained what actually happened to the Covington students. We can imagine that with a pouty lip and a roll of his eyes, Frankovich reluctantly went to his computer to slowly tap out a non-apology apology. He admitted to being “overheated,” “preachy,” and “rhetorically excessive.” He didn’t admit he was wrong about what had happened and didn’t apologize to the kids and their families. He didn’t retract his comparisons of the boys chanting school cheers to the Roman soldiers who mocked Christ or his equating Phillips with Christ. I don’t recall the part of the Gospel where Christ bullied a harmless kid by banging a drum in his face then lied about the encounter. The Romans, I also believe, didn’t mock Christ by chanting, “We’ve got spirit! Yes we do! We’ve got spirit! How ’bout you!”
If anything, the Covington students were better Christians than the Church leaders and Frankovich. They nonviolently stood up to abuse from the Black Hebrew Israelites, a bunch of genuine racists who are also homophobic and misogynistic. They had even racially insulted a black student in the Covington group. The boys countered their hateful shouts with hearty school chants, not equivalent insults. When Phillips approached them while banging his drum, they believed he was joining them and keeping time to their chants because the Black Hebrew Israelites had also taunted the Native Americans, referring to them as totem pole worshipers, “Uncle Tomahawks” and ”$5 Indians.” The students clumsily tried to join in Phillips’ chanting. They were rowdily enjoying what they thought was his support. That wasn’t the case.
As Phillips’ associates approached with cameras ready, they tossed insults at the kids, such as “Go back to Europe!” They undoubtedly were hoping to record a response that they could publicize as an example of conservative students being racist. Sandmann was targeted because he wore a MAGA hat. When the students failed to play out the script as the activists expected, they selectively released a portion of the video and claimed a racist confrontation had occurred. Sandmann was said to have blocked Phillips’ path and the boys to have shouted abuse. Actually, the students did neither. Sandmann, despite Phillips banging a drum inches from his nose, didn’t get violent. He didn’t yell at Phillips. He didn’t shove him away. He didn’t do what was later urged be done to him. He didn’t punch Phillips in the face. He smiled. The kid behaved better than the adults on the scene that day and his adult detractors behind keyboards in the days following.
National Review deleted Frankovich’s article and offered their own apology, admitting they were “spectacularly wrong” for running the piece, but insisted that “Nick was operating off the best version of events he had on Saturday night, and writing as a faithful Catholic and pro-lifer who has the highest expectations of his compatriots, not as a social-justice activist.” As it has been written, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and lays big, fat eggs, it probably is a duck. Frankovich’s “high expectations of his compatriots” don’t give him a free pass to embrace the role of social justice warrior, however that is denied. Unlike Frankovich’s apology, National Review’s apology included apologizing to the Covington students, and they have since published more sober pieces truthfully detailing the incident.
As days passed and more facts emerged about the Covington incident, some of the goblins who had attacked the students reluctantly drew back. Some even apologized. Others did neither, and endlessly repeated accusations of racism, insisting that the boys being pro-life and pro-Trump was proof enough that they were racists. These attackers didn’t need to consider anything else. Shortly after the incident, actor Ron Perlman, noted for his muscular, tough guy roles, had tweeted, “To the little bitch in this soul crushing image, your punishment will be an entire lifetime of regret…” When Jake Tapper tweeted back that other video contradicted Perlman’s interpretation, Perlman’s tweet in response, with *s added here: “Always some muthaf***a on the internet telling me I ain’t seein what I’m seein. Little white bitches in red hats symbolizing the lowest impulses there are. F*** em!!”
It’s hard to believe that Perlman is as nutty a Leftie as his tweets suggest. It’s easier to think that he, an actor, is playing a role of his design to fit the prejudices of Hollywood. To advance his career, he must cater to the politics of those who hand out the big buck roles. To this effort, he affects the persona of a streetwise, hard-as-nails dude who’s down with the struggle and won’t take no back talk from anyone who dares contradict the politically correct views of the moment. Gorillas pound their chests to emphasize their threats, and here Perlman uses bad English and obscenities to show his brutish sincerity and PC machismo. If Hollywood decided that Elmer Fudd was the model social justice warrior, Perlman would drop the thug act and tweet, “Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting wacists!”
Perlman didn’t apologize for his tweet when he got blowback. Instead, he piously tweeted: “What we need of less in this country are the deep divisions that rip apart our emotions.” We are to blame — not him. We should be so ashamed.
Some anti-Covington goblins refused to piously shift the blame and sought out other PC crimes to justify their hatred. To mimic a phrase heard elsewhere, they knew they were wrong, nevertheless, they persisted. They searched the Internet, yearbooks, and old video for evidence that Covington Catholic High School was a den of racists. Kathy Griffith tweeted out a photo of the school’s basketball team holding up their hands with three fingers extended and thumb and forefinger in a circle. She insisted it was a neo-Nazi hand gesture that stands for “White Power.” To the less deluded, it is the “OK” sign. On the basketball court, the gesture, with its three extended fingers, has come to mean admiration for a three-point shot. The Covington basketball players were using it for this as have many basketball players, including black players who are unlikely to endorse White Power. After having this well-known custom pointed out to her, Griffith deleted her tweet without apology. Hopefully, she wasn’t too disappointed that the supposed-Nazis she had discovered were just guys happy about a nice moment on the hardwood.
A goblin found a photo from years ago of Covington students shouting at a black player from another school during a different basketball game. One of the students was painted black. This had to be evidence that Covington High was better named KKKovington High. Unfortunately for the goblin and all the other goblins, sending the picture zinging to every corner of the Internet, this was a photo of a “color night,” a demonstration of school spirit not unknown at other schools. A color was selected and the students dressed in it and a few painted themselves with it. This makes the students appear as an imposing block of color in the stands. On the night in the picture, the color chosen was black and students dressed in black clothing and some painted themselves black. Considering the history of black face, an adult should have sent any pupil dumb enough to put the paint on their face to the showers, but claiming that kids rooting for their school was a minstrel show insult is unfair. The school had chosen other colors on other nights, including white and blue. Were kids painted white being racist about whites? Should Smurf’s feel insulted by blue kids? Like spectators at most sporting events, the students did yell at the opposing team. Their fans undoubtedly yelled right back.
As a young man, Nathan Phillips doesn’t compare well to Sandmann, having a criminal record of escaping from prison, assault, and several alcohol-related crimes in his teens and early 20s. He has implied that his military career included combat service in Vietnam. In an article in the April 2018 issue of Vogue about protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, he was quoted as saying, “I’m from Vietnam times. I’m what they call a recon ranger. That was my role.” “Recon ranger” is a designation that doesn’t exist in the U.S. military. In December 2008, the author of an article for the Native American news site Indian Country Today about a Native American memorial ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery, wrote: “Phillips also described coming back to the U.S. as a veteran of the Vietnam era. ‘People called me a baby killer and a hippie girl spit on me.’” The article is illustrated with a photo of Phillips in a “boonie” camo hat, a style worn in Vietnam. Phillips served stateside as a refrigerator repairman.
Phillips is also linked to an iffy charity called the “Native Youth Alliance.” It is soliciting donations using a picture of Sandmann’s encounter with Phillips. Who gets the money raised by exploiting the incident is unclear. (The similarly named Native Youth Leadership Alliance is a different, legitimate group.)
Phillips gave various false accounts of the incident that cast increasing blame on the students while elevating his part to heroic victim status. He claimed he had been disturbed by the Covington students who were “in the process of attacking these four black individuals.” He said he stepped between the two groups to protect the black group. The students had a “mob mentality” and he didn’t like “the looks in these young men’s faces.” He compared them to a lynch mob. “Those kids wanted to fight those black guys,” he said. The students blocked his path, he insisted, illogically claiming both to being a human shield and to being blocked as he tried to pass through the students. Was he going to shield the Black Hebrew Israelites by getting behind the kids?
Phillips said of those who pointed out his untruths, “They want to destroy me so that some racist child doesn’t have to have hurt feelings or feel bad.… [This tells the students that] racism’s OK. Don’t worry about it. We’ve got your back. Sign this letter. Put the blame on him. You’re innocent. You’re good. You’re white. The world is yours. We won’t let your world be destroyed by this savage.” After Sandmann released a statement describing the event, Phillips told the media, “I have read the statement from Nick Sandmann, the student who stared at me for a long time. He did not apologize, and I believe there are intentional falsehoods in his testimony.” He also was quoted as saying Sandmann “didn’t accept any responsibility. That lack of responsibility, I don’t accept it.” Phillips, who started the encounter, insists his target is in the wrong.
Sandmann’s statement said, “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.” Phillips responded, petulantly, “He [Sandmann] stole my narrative. From the time I hit that first beat of the drum until I hit the last beat, I was in prayer. Now all of a sudden, he’s the prayer guy and the passive one.… [The students] had an opportunity to not hate and to put out an olive branch and say, let’s sit down and pray together. Instead, they responded to hate with hate. And [Sandmann] transferred that hate to me.” Phillips has offered to go to Covington to teach the students what’s wrong with them, but only if the school agrees to his conditions. These include recognition of his aggrieved state and acceptance of his fabricated charges of racism. He’s also called for the expulsion of the students and the firing of their chaperones.
Phillips’ stay in Washington included more than pushing around the Covington students. He and about 50 other protesters tried to force their way into the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in that city during a Vigil Mass on January 19. They wanted to march through the church and shout about the Catholic Church’s past ill treatment of indigenous peoples around the world. Phillips, who insisted his prayers shouldn’t be interrupted at the Lincoln Memorial, would accompany this intrusion on a Catholic Mass with his drum and chanting. Security had to lock the doors to keep the protesters out so the congregation could pray in peace.
From the shrine’s steps, Phillips read a list of demands: “We demand that the students of Covington Catholic High School be reprimanded not just by their school officials but, as seniors, by their upcoming universities.” The students, who did nothing wrong, were to be punished not only by their high school but by any universities that dared enroll them. Perlman insisted the students would live a lifetime of regret, and we can expect that the legions of goblins who support Phillips’ lies will try to make that true. It’ll serve as a warning to anyone who dares oppose their politics.
Not so long ago, a campaign to stop bullying of children was in the news. Young people, we were told, had been driven to suicide by bullies using social media to spread lies about their targets and threaten them. Hollywood celebrities attended fundraisers wearing anti-bullying ribbons that were blue for the bruises inflicted, striped with red for the physical and mental scars created, and black to remember those children who had been bullied to death. Religious leaders, politicians, and the media joined in the worthy cause. Now, however, we know that some bullying is just dandy and even righteous. Just pick a kid in a MAGA hat.