Covington Student Nick Sandmann Should Not be Defended

Abigail Lee, Reporter

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On January 18, 2019, Covington Catholic High School students were shown on video to be in a conflict with Native American Nathan Phillips. Nick Sandmann, who claims to have been unfairly targeted by news coverage, recently filed a lawsuit against The Washington Post for the same reasons.

The Washington Post has issued an editor’s note in response to their initial coverage of the event, but does not express wrongdoing. Regardless, Sandmann should be held accountable by apologizing to the Native Americans present at the protest.

Sandmann’s lawsuit states that the Post engaged in Mccarthyism “to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann, an innocent secondary school child,” CNN reported. The issue in this type of response stems from several points.

First, the emphasis put on Sandmann’s youth illustrates the immunity that he should not have received. The overwhelming support from conservatives shows that by claiming media bias, Sandmann fits perfectly into how conservatives have been victimizing straight, white males in recent years.

Zack Beauchamp from VOX said, “The right’s reaction…revealed several of its core animating assumptions that white Christians are persecuted minorities, that overzealous social justice warriors represent an existential threat to a free society, and that the media is on their enemies’ sides.”

Second, no matter how Sandmann was depicted by the media, he should have acknowledged how the Native Americans were treated as well. In multiple videos, the students are shown to be mocking Phillips’ ceremonial drum and even doing the tomahawk chop. Their actions are disrespectful at best, even if they were not meant to be offensive, as Sandmann said in an interview with the Today Show.

“I am an Atlanta Braves fan and the tomahawk chop is a fan cheer at baseball games that is intended to support the team and is not intended to disparage Native Americans,” said Sandmann’s attorney Lin Wood to LifeSite.

Wood’s explanation is merely an excuse that portrays the extreme ignorance that many Americans possess. The students may not have intended to offend Native Americans, yet Native Americans never intended to allow them to take advantage of their cultural traditions either.

Writer and activist Jacqueline Keele said, “For many Native Americans, the incident has served to confirm the white supremacy that has been part of the United States’ DNA since its founding.”

Trivializing indigenous culture should not be accepted on the basis that the Covington group were just children. Teenagers are just as capable of furthering ignorance and contributing to racial conflicts. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than two thirds of hate crimes reported in U.S. schools in January, 2018 occurred in high schools.

Sandmann should give an apology for the cultural transgressions on his part.

“That may be the saddest part of this whole story: Those boys didn’t take even a moment to really listen, and so they failed to learn,” said Keeler.

Consider donating to indigenous youth at American Indian College Fund.