The Trump-supporting Catholic student, whose encounter with a Native American elder at the March for Life went viral, is telling his side of the story.
Nicholas Sandmann, a junior at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky who was widely berated online over the weekend for allegedly disrespecting a Native American elder and Vietnam War veteran as he played a ceremonial drum in Washington D.C., Friday, defended himself as a “faithful Christian” who was just trying to keep the peace between protesters.
“I was not intentionally making faces at the protester. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence,” Sandmann said in a press statement Sunday.
The high school student, who revealed he and other schoolmates were attending the March for Life rally when the encounter took place, said they were victims of a hateful attack and they were simply trying to diffuse it collectively with school cheer when the elder, Nathan Phillips, approached his group.
“When we arrived, we noticed four African American protesters who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group,” Sandmann said.
“The protestors said hateful things. They called us ‘racists,’ ‘bigots,’ ‘white crackers,’ ‘faggots,’ and ‘incest kids.’ They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would ‘harvest his organs.’ I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear,” he wrote.
Phillips, who was part of the Indigenous People’s Rally that was taking place in Washington, D.C., at the time of the March for Life rally, was captured in a video clip posted on Instagram, in what was at first interpreted Sandmann being disrespectful toward Phillips.
The student and others from his school also boldly donned, “Make America Great Again” hats in support of President Donald Trump, which some liberals find offensive. An extended video of the incident with the complete sequence of events, however, showed the encounter was more complicated than first reported.
Some news organizations corrected or updated their initial reporting. Others apologized for misinterpreting the initial video and criticizing the Catholic students.
“Yesterday I had one impression of the maga kids from Kentucky. Now after seeing more videos I have a different more complicated impression. Makes all the hot takes seem silly,” New York Times columnist David Brooks tweeted Sunday.
“I apologize to the Covington Catholic boys. What Rod Dreher says of himself goes double for me. I jumped the gun and that was stupid and unjust. It is I, not the boys, who needs to take a lesson from this,” conservative Catholic and Princeton Professor Robert P. George wrote on social media with a link to a Rod Dreher column about the incident.
Dreher acknowledged that the boys may have misbehaved and should’ve handled the situation better, but added that he regretted initially condemning the boys before seeing the full context.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair