“Go fuck yourselves.”
Based on a viral video, a teenage boy has instantly become the left’s poster boy for racism in President Donald Trump’s America.
But other clips of the teen’s confrontation with a Native American protester ― and the man’s own account of the incident ― undermine the narrative pushed on Twitter and in the mainstream media.
The viral video captured a moment on Friday when the March for Life collided with the first Indigenous People’s March outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. The boy, a participant in the anti-abortion rally, is seen smirking and staring straight ahead as the Native American activist chants and beats a ceremonial drum.
In the background, other young men ― some of whom are apparently students at an all-boys’ prep school in Kentucky ― can be heard laughing and expressing confusion. “What is going on?” someone says, earning scorn from a woman in the Native American demonstration.
The internet’s response was in keeping with the by-now-familiar ritual of progressive outrage and vilification of the right. Twitter users called the teen a “racist,” a “sociopath,” a white supremacist, and a “Brownshirt” Nazi.
Influential tech journalist Kara Swisher declared that he validated Gillette’s recent TV advertisement taking on “toxic masculinity,” and told critics of the spot: “Go fuck yourselves.”
And to all you aggrieved folks who thought this Gillette ad was too much bad-men-shaming, after we just saw it come to life with those awful kids and their fetid smirking harassing that elderly man on the Mall: Go fuck yourselves. https://t.co/ab7zqIuWbL
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) January 19, 2019
Others deemed the boy representative of the degraded condition of American society, and particularly of conservatives, who are supposedly responsible for the country’s backslide into bigotry.
The image of white teens in “Make America Great Again” hats screaming “build the wall!” at a Native American Vietnam veteran at an anti choice rally is a perfect summary of the utter hollowness of the conservative movement outside of bigotry.
— Tyler Dinucci (@TylerDinucci) January 19, 2019
Mainstream news headlines blared that the boy was part of a “mob” that set out to “harass” the Native American man ― later identified as activist Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder.
Congresswoman Deb Haaland, a New Mexico Democrat and one of the first Native American congresswomen, tweeted Saturday that he and the other boys had displayed “blatant hate” against Phillips. She blamed the Trump administration.
This Veteran put his life on the line for our country. The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking. https://t.co/NuPnYu9FP4
— Congresswoman Deb Haaland (@RepDebHaaland) January 19, 2019
The Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School felt compelled to issue a statement condemning the students’ behavior and offering their “deepest apologies” to Phillips, as well as to Native Americans in general.
However, amid the sweeping condemnations and purgations, other videos of the incident emerged, which appear to show that Phillips initiated the confrontation.
“Covington Catholic student bothering elder man” yet here is evidence of the man approaching them during their school cheer not disturbing anyone. Doesn’t make sense pic.twitter.com/NYHkV3j3Xd
— The ßlair ß*tch Project (@blairanton) January 19, 2019
Some on the right jumped into the online dumpster fire by (ironically?) trashing Phillips, who has claimed racist harassment by young white men before, and valorizing the teen.
Others agreed that the boy had not behaved well, but urged some perspective. Independent journalist Tim Pool pointed out that no one had been hurt and suggested that the teens had just acted “like kids.”
A native american man walks up to kids while banging a drum.
The kids laugh and clap along and act like kids.
No one is hurt, no one says anything crazy.
What the fuck is everyone freaking out about?
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) January 20, 2019
The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson shared a video that he said shows young left-wing protesters behaving badly last year. He commented that “no party ‘owns’ hate or disrespect for the elderly.”
A viral video is going around showing MAGA hat wearing teens harassing a vet.
This behavior is despicable.
Given this moment – I’d like to remind everyone that no party “owns” hate or disrespect for the elderly. I filmed these young leftists assaulting a 71 yr old vet this fall pic.twitter.com/ONqenfJBkW
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) January 20, 2019
Phillips’ own emotional recounting of the incident, in a video taken at the march and later to the press, actually bore out the accounts of both sides to some extent. He said he had walked over to the teens after noticing them taunting participants in the Indigenous People’s March, and the boy in the viral video had then blocked his path forward.
Asked by CNN for his main takeaway, Phillips said:
Fear. Not for myself, but fear for the next generations. Fear where this country is going. Fear for those youth. Fear for their future. Fear for their souls, their spirit, what they’re gonna to do this country. What they were doing wasn’t making America great, it was just tearing down the fabric, the whole idea of America. That wasn’t it.
Pluralist could not reach Phillips or the teen for further comment. Covington Catholic High School’s social media accounts and online contact information have been blocked from the public.
But the Indigenous Peoples Movement, which organized the march, sounded a more optimistic note, saying that there was more to the day than was captured by Twitter videos.
“What is not being shown on the video is that the same youth and a few others became emotional because of the power, resilience and love we inherently carry in our DNA,” organizer Nathalie Farfan said. “Our day on those steps ended with a round dance, while we chanted, ‘We are still here.’”