In Which I Look Back and Whitesplain Nathan Phillips' Fabricated Incident at the March for Life a Week Ago
I set a goal to publish a blog post every week, and this de facto ended up being on the weekends, and that format means that sometimes I'm really late to the party discussing current events. But while this storm may have mostly blown itself out, it hasn't ceased to be an issue, and even if it had it would deserve to be recapped in detail so that we could, theoretically, learn from our stupidity. So sorry not sorry for bringing this up after all the cool people have stopped talking about it.
Wanting to be the bigger person and forgive their occasional lapses of integrity (like their refusal to cover Kermit Gosnell), I initially trusted the media accounts of the so-called incident at the March for Life (which for some reason doesn't merit media coverage unless an incident happens or it disrupts traffic). I had no reason to doubt the claims that a group of white teenagers wearing "Make America Great Again" hats surrounded elderly Native American Vietnam War veteran Nathan Phillips and taunted him with chants of "Build the Wall". There was nothing particularly implausible about such a story. Trump's rhetoric and actions have created a climate where droves of formerly ostracized white supremacists are comfortable being loud and proud about their white supremacy, and that the vast majority of said white supremacists, not coincidentally, voted for him and continue to support him.
Nick Sandmann in particular, appearing to be the ringleader, went viral for having the racist audacity to smile at Phillips. If "smiling while white" isn't officially classified as a hate crime, it should be. Naturally, many liberals throughout the country demonstrated their moral superiority by threatening to harm and/or murder him and his family, just like Martin Luther King would have wanted. But don't worry, they had plenty of hatred left over for the other students involved, so much that Covington Catholic High School had to close for safety concerns. This one, though probably meant to be funny somehow, is my favorite because the total lack of consequences really shows where Disney's priorities are (besides murdering the second biggest franchise of all time, of course).
Since I detest Donald Trump and consider it a patriotic duty to speak out against him, this story was convenient for me in a certain sick sense, as it was for many others who believed it. I didn't become consumed with rage or make any threats, but I passed the information along in the naive hope of weakening Trump's influence among decent people in some small way. If I were the average American voter, I would have tried to persist in believing said information when it turned out to be an SJW fairy tale. But unfortunately I have this peculiar, un-American mental disorder that I like to call "being honest enough to change my opinions when I know they're wrong". So instead I redirected my former anger toward the ones who actually deserve it, and I apologize for sharing the lie, and I would apologize far more profusely if I thought I'd actually influenced literally anybody.
Because, as everyone should be aware by now, there turned out to be many more minutes of footage than the one we got worked up over. Nathan Phillips' account of events falls apart even before the students share their side of the story which actually matches the video. Yet I'm still seeing people trying to pretend his account is accurate and he's some kind of hero or victim. The actual facts (remember those things?), which naturally didn't go as viral by a long shot as the original mindless outrage, turned out to be that:
*Prior to this encounter, a group of black protesters was yelling racially charged insults and threats at the students. Of course this wasn't newsworthy or outrageworthy because racism against white people is okay.
*The students, with permission from their chaperone, started chanting school spirit chants to drown out the aforementioned racism they were being bombarded with. Instead of, I don't know, retaliating in any way.
*The students did not approach or "surround" Phillips. He walked into the spot where they had been standing for some time and played his drum in Nick Sandmann's face for no adequately explained reason.
*Literally nobody during this encounter chanted "Build the Wall". Literally. Nobody. You. Lying. Sacks. Of. Crap. One of Phillips' Native American protesters did yell at the students to "go back to Europe", though.
*Phillips is not a Vietnam War veteran. He never set foot in Vietnam. He was a refrigerator mechanic who only served in the US, was frequently AWOL, and never got promoted past Private in four years.
CNN, to their credit, published a statement by the one smiling student who's received most of the American Left's special brand of tolerance. He seems to have more maturity in his pinky finger than all his haters possess together. Twitter, to their credit, suspended the fake account that posted the original deceptively edited (remember that phrase?) video. But this account can hardly shoulder the blame for everyone who believed the story or continues to do so.
Yes, I was one of the many who believed it, because I had these crazy notions that Nathan Phillips was an decent honest guy and mainstream news outlets were reasonably trustworthy sources, but since I never got involved in the unwarranted vitriol toward these students and have since changed my mind in response to additional information, I have a clean conscience. I posted a thing about the original false account, and when I realized I was wrong I posted a thing about the truth, and one of my liberal friends went ballistic about how the truth doesn't matter because these teenagers are still unforgivably bad people for not moving aside when an old man walked into them. And that obviously still warrants viral news coverage and death threats. A couple days later - I'm not making this up - she shared a derogatory post about how sensitive white males on the internet are.
There's also this unsurprising little irony:
I don't remember perfectly, but I do know for a fact that I could count the number of social media posts I saw about the torture on one hand, all of them from conservative sources complaining about the lack of coverage from liberal sources. The attack wasn't very newsworthy or outrageworthy for a couple reasons: because it was black-on-white, and because the black men and women said things like "F--- Trump" while they were torturing the white boy. Awkward. In fairness, CNN did give the story a bit of coverage that failed to go viral, during which Don Lemon refused to denounce the torture as "evil" because "I think these are young people, and I think they have bad home training." I mean, every single one of the black torturers was a legal adult and older than the white students that liberals thought deserved to die for literally no reason, but nobody asked me.
In fairness, with the trivial exception of grossly misrepresenting his military record and allowing others to do so, maybe Nathan Phillips isn't actually the belligerent lying scumbag he appears to be. Maybe this was all a big misunderstanding, and he's a decent honest guy who was simply mistaken about the boys' intentions and somehow got every verifiable detail of the encounter wrong. But since he followed up the next day by loudly trying to barge into a Catholic Mass with a group of his activists, which I don't need to tell you isn't newsworthy or outrageworthy because reasons, I doubt it very much.
Why is it that the people who are obsessed with shaming other people are incapable of feeling shame themselves when they should? The worst of the haters are either still defending Phillips and bashing the students, or trying to quietly move on as if nothing happened and they didn't just screw up innocent people's lives with their stupid witch hunt. Delusion or cowardice, respectively. What if we all had the humility of Dr. Robert P. George, one of the few prominent conservative figures I still respect, who wrote:
And (like me) he wasn't a part of the irresponsible media or the liberal hate machine, so he doesn't even have that much to apologize for. Guess who does?
But then the real problem, according to some other nobody on Twitter, is that these boys "were in D.C. for the sole purpose of promoting male control of women's bodies", having been "bussed in to demand adult women be subjected to forced childbearing". Okay, I grant that would be pretty bad and would definitely warrant death threats for teenagers and their families if it were true instead of being the stupid straw man (no pun intended) that it actually is. Somebody would need to mansplain to all the poor stupid women who participated in the March for Life that they've been duped by men into promoting male control of their bodies, but nobody could because that would be sexist, so it's a good thing that isn't necessary.
This damnable post-truth fake outrage society I'm forced to live in makes me yearn for an early death. (Insert your own quip about also yearning for my early death here.) And pardon the cliche, but if the American Left is really serious about combating bigotry, it needs to take a long look in the mirror.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.