This past month has been anything but peaceful in all realms of politics and American life. With the federal government shutdown, Americans have been on edge as we reach an unprecedented amount of time without a functioning government. Since this stems from President Trump’s desire for $5 billion in border wall funding, Democrats and Republicans are especially at odds surrounding issues of race.
Political tensions erupted even further this weekend when the video of a high schooler standing in front of a Native American elder was interpreted as an act of racism.
At first, the encounter between the student, who identified himself as Nick Sandmann from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, and the Native American elder Nathan Phillips appeared as though the student was taunting him. There were also reports that his classmates were chanting, “Build that wall.”
The first-released video has been widely viewed and ridiculed. However, a longer video came out that demonstrated this was more complicated than originally thought, where Phillips approached Sandmann beating the drum, rather than the presumed opposite.
There were Native Americans from an Indigenous Peoples March, the predominately white, Catholic high schoolers from the anti-abortion march and black men identified as Hebrew Israelites shouting their beliefs and racially charged language at all the other groups.
First of all, the fact that all of these people found themselves protesting for what they believe in shows that above all, America still has its integral freedom of expression — a silver lining in the chaos of this viral moment. Yet it is not surprising that tensions arose between these groups.
There are varying stories of what actually went on between these groups — some say the boys were antagonizing the Native man, some claim they were just standing near him as he tried to diffuse the situation between the boys and the Israelites, others say the Israelites were the cause of it all.
The student Nick Sandmann put out a statement in which in reference to the Hebrew Israelites protesting, he said, “The protestors said hateful things. They called us ‘racists,’ ‘bigots,’ ‘white crackers,’ ‘faggots,’ and ‘incest kids.’”
Regardless of who did what, this moment reinforces the idea that we as an American people have never been so divided. The man who does deserve praise, though, is Phillips for recognizing a bad situation and trying to bring peace, music and prayer into the middle of it.
He stood in between both groups singing a song of peace and love in the hopes that he would diffuse the situation.
I am cautious of someone who goes to an anti-abortion march and wears a Make America Great Again hat. It goes against almost everything I believe in. If these boys did not mean to antagonize Phillips as they claim, though, then their side of the story should be heard.
That boldly red hat is a symbol of everything President Donald Trump has said, including racist remarks. These boys are old enough to know what Trump stands for, and I do not support their cause in any way.
Their partaking in an anti-abortion rally insults me as a woman since they will never have to carry a child or consider getting an abortion.
I am not blinded by hate and opposing viewpoints. After watching the longer video, I understand that this confrontation was not a clear-cut demonstration of racism. There were other parties involved who were not acting appropriately.
The only clear lesson is that Phillips — more than anything else — brought peace through song to a situation that needed it. He found similarities in the fact that we are all human.