It was the viral story of the week: a teenager in a “Make America Great Again” cap was filmed standing in front of a Native American drummer smiling broadly as his friends cheered.
news.com.au By: Emma Reynolds
As the days passed, a more complex picture of what happened between rival groups at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington has emerged.
Most disturbingly of all, the murky origins of the footage have raised alarming questions over who shared the footage and whether their intention was really to further divide America and stoke tensions even further.
High school student Nick Sandmann was swiftly condemned as a racist when the video emerged a week ago, the footage held up as evidence of a broken society, a culture of hatred in the United States and an administration that trades on divisions.
But the story took on a life of its own after a longer video emerged that added context and complicated public understanding of what really happened.
HATRED AND DIVISION
The new footage showed a group of Hebrew Israelites taunting the teenagers and calling them “incest babies” and “future school shooters” before the situation escalated.
The students began chanting in response, passers-by were dragged into the tense situation as the four African-American men threw around the n-word and Native American elder Nathan Phillips decided to step in.
What resulted was the short scene the world at first saw with no context — the 64-year-old and the teenager standing face-to-face as the musician played his drum and chanted and Nick smiled. Who was the aggressor? Was the teenager simply standing his ground?
The different interpretations have played out across social media, with furious commentary thrown back and forth as each side of politics sees the version that fits their own preferred narrative…
Mr Phillips said afterwards that he was simply trying to defuse the situation, but felt “hate” and had heard the students chant “build the wall” — something not captured on video. Nick then issued a statement claiming he had also been trying to stay calm and restore some peace. Both appeared on the Today show to explain their side of the argument.
The uncomfortable confrontation soon became one of the biggest stories in the world, with well-known figures from both sides of politics getting involved.
Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, on Saturday tweeted: “The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration.”
In Monday, Mr Trump tweeted that the Covington Catholic high school students “were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false — smeared by media.”
He later added that the teens had “become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News on Wednesday she had “never seen people so happy to destroy a kid’s life.”
That prompted a reply from Florida school shooting survivor David Hogg, who asked: “Really?”
Others raised the issue of children in US detention centres and the Trump administration’s record of separating migrant families. The “MAGA teen” controversy had come to represent all the most divisive issues in American political life.
Everyone took sides, usually based on whether they too were conservative and religious or progressive and atheist. The media pounced on the story, but the backlash was just as swift, with fierce criticism of some journalists for their perceived lack of nuance, and for seemingly vilifying the teenager without knowing more. Coming after the controversy of BuzzFeed’s disputed story on Mr Trump and Russia, the drama fit neatly into the President’s characterisation of the media as “fake news”.https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12196900
Subtle (and not so subtle) attempts have been made by the MSM to link this whole affair to the increasingly jaded “Russian meddling” claims. So to highlight a quote from the article above:
“there is no evidence the @2020fight account is linked to the country.” (Russia)