Clash: Kentucky found itself front and center of the nation’s big story this week.
It all started last Friday afternoon, when a video went viral featuring a group of students clad in MAGA gear from northern Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School surrounding Nathan Phillips, a Native American elder. Mr. Phillips sang and played his drum while one of the students, later identified as Nick Sandmann, appeared to block his path, standing in his way.
The students were in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life rally; Mr. Phillips was there for the Indigenous Peoples March.
Mr. Phillips told The Washington Post:
It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: “I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial.” I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way, and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.
But on Sunday, a much, much longer video surfaced — which I’ve now watched in its entirety far too many times in preparation for the column. This one was filmed by a member of the Black Hebrew Israelites, there protesting the Indigenous Peoples March:
So, looking at that one, here’s the chain of events as best I can say, without any attempt at supposing anyone’s intent.
For the better part of an hour, the five Hebrew Israelites shout at most everyone, as they’re wont to do. There are a few MAGA kids, but mostly the Hebrew Israelites shout at the participants of the march for the first little bit and get testy with a guy circling them on a hoverboard.
For the unfamiliar, they’re classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and shouting charged statements at passersby is part of their deal.
After that first hour, with most of the Indigenous Peoples Marchers disbursed, they turn their attention to the growing number of Covington students gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. They shout various slurs and unpleasantries toward them, and in response, at around the 1:10 mark, a group of the students do some kind of school chant that involves one of the kids losing his shirt. They do a “Seven Nation Army” chant at 1:11.
And at 1:12:22, Nathan Phillips steps between the two groups playing his drum and continues for another few minutes as the students surround him and in some cases join in. And then the last 30 minutes or so, those that stay behind end up having a somewhat reasonable conversation.
I mean, they talk about unicorns and “I, Robot,” so reasonable may not be the most apt description, but the tensions are gone.
There’s a lot more here, of course, but your mighty “In Other News …” column is under a pretty tight word ration for 2019. You can head over to USA Today for an even more detailed breakdown, with quotes and other interactions.
That extra footage added a new perspective for some, while others said it simply reinforced what they saw the first time.
Politico posits it can assess the public response easily enough: “Tell me how you voted, and I’ll tell you what you think you saw.” David Brooks of The New York Times says social media and the rush to the hot take is to blame:
The nation’s culture is now enmeshed in a new technology that we don’t yet know how to control. In this technology, a single moment is more important than a life story. In this technology, a main activity is proving to the world that your type is morally superior to the other type.
CNN looks at “how the video confrontation between Catholic students and a Native American elder blew up” in the first place, tracing the steps from the original post to the post from Twitter user @2020fight. NBC News says the account has since been suspended when it was revealed the user wasn’t the California school teacher as claimed, but a blogger in Brazil.
TIME offers a “Lesson to Take Away From the Confrontation Between High Schoolers and a Native Elder,” which boils down to minding one’s presumptions.
On Wednesday, Today’s Savanah Guthrie talked to Mr. Sandmann:
Some critics accused her of going too easy on him, says USA Today. And on Thursday, she talked to Mr. Phillips:
Some critics accused her of going to0 easy on him, says Yahoo.
On Tuesday, The American Indian Movement Chapter of Indiana and Kentucky held a rally outside the Covington Diocese. Guy Jones, a Hunkpapa Lakota Native American from the Standing Rock Reservation, told CNN:
We fix stuff by sitting down and talking to one another and working for a common goal.
And that message got through, says CBS News. Mr. Jones said he was approached by a Trump supporter who wanted to meet and “figure this out.”
So that’s something positive anyway.
Family Affair: The Evening Standard talks to Jennifer Lawrence’s “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” co-star and former boyfriend Nicholas Hoult this week. They ask him what it’s like to work with his ex. The two met while filming 2011’s “X-Men: First Class” and split up in 2014.
Says Mr. Hoult:
It’s pretty similar to “Skins,” we’re a big family, we’ve been doing those movies since we were 20 years old. As much as the “Skins” crowd grew up together, the “X-Men” crowd really grew up together. It’s been a good eight, nine years making those movies. We’ve all got to get along, we’ve all got to have fun.
“X-Men: Dark Phoenix” hits theaters in June.
See you next week.