Washington D.C. flooded with thousands of marchers who participated in the annual anti-abortion March for Life on Friday, Jan. 18. On the same day, the first annual Indigenous Peoples March commenced in hopes of raising national attention to the injustices indigenous people currently face. In the midst of the celebration of life and call for hope for indigenous people, a confrontation between two marchers went viral. Covington Catholic High School junior, Nick Sandmann, quickly made headlines when he appeared in a video showing him mockingly smirking at Native American activist and war veteran Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
The viral moment quickly sparked outrage against the “Make America Great Again” hat-wearing teen, with many Twitter users instantly defending Phillips by calling Sandmann “a bigoted racist” and “ignorant.” In a statement released by Sandmann and Covington Catholic, it was claimed that the Covington teens were taunted and harassed by Black Hebrew Israelites prior to the confrontation with Phillips, in which Phillips only stepped in to defuse the mounting tensions between the groups. However, further videos suggest that the Covington Catholic boys were notorious that day for harassing other protestors and even mockingly danced to the beats of Phillips’ drum. The Covington Catholic boys knowingly made a field trip to a march protesting a woman’s right to choose what they do with their bodies, then sparked viral outrage for chanting racist and taunting remarks at indigenous people. Now, when they are being held accountable for their actions, these same students cry that they were not the cause of the problem, but were only trying to settle rising tensions. These boys who wear the “Make America Great Again” hats are exactly what is wrong with America.
Further in his statement, Sandmann claims to be a “faithful Christian and practicing Catholic” who wishes to live up to the ideals that his faith and the Bible teaches him. Yet, the Bible clearly states “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” and the mocking smirk that Sandmann displays is anything but love. Rather, it is hatred. The Bible attempts to unite all peoples, rather than build a wall and segregate each other. Sandmann does not portray a faithful Catholic, but rather a xenophobic student who needs to better educate himself on American history and its indigenous people.
Sandmann’s actions of ignorantly chanting “build the wall” and disrespectfully smirking at Phillips’ beats of peace show that his interpretation of the wall is not about protecting American borders. Rather, it is about race. The hatred and ignorance behind “the wall” lies in America’s deep-rooted issues of ignorance and white superiority. The wall is not to protect all Americans, only white Americans. While Sandmann wishes that “he avoided the whole situation,” it is evident that he is not sorry for the confrontation happening, but rather that he got caught. And, for what is probably the first time in his life, he is facing repercussions for his actions.
Ultimately, this confrontation exploits the mounting ignorance and lack of education of modern America. America’s ignorance is not bliss. It is a retrogressive mindset that leads to disillusionment and bigoted tendencies. We should not be working to “Make America Great Again,” but rather to make America educated again.