Courtesy to CNN
It seems as though in these easily-agitated times during the 21st century almost any event that occurs has the potential to offend someone, somewhere.
And this event is no different. But the reasoning for the animosity is valid and authentic.
A group of schoolboys from a Catholic school in Kentucky were in Washington D.C. for the March for Life; an anti-abortion rally. Nathan Phillips, a Native American war veteran, was participating in a march to spread awareness at the Indigenous Peoples March when he crossed paths with the schoolboys. The boys were then filmed surrounding Mr. Phillips, mocking his singing and drumming. One boy in particular can be seen in the video smiling at Mr. Phillips while other males behind him chant phrases like “Build that wall!” and “MAGA!”
The boys soon faced major backlash after their disrespectful antics where shared online for the public to view. Events such as these that occur blatantly show just how far we are from erasing racism and nativism from the country. “This veteran put his life on the line for our country,” one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress Deb Haaland says, “The students’ display of hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking” (The New York Times).
Seeing that this occurrence happened in late January, the information is likely to become warped in some way or another; but if we’re sticking to the common notion that the boys were, in actuality, disrespecting the Native American man, then there’s a whole lot to be said. Gina Ayyoub (11) shares her opinion on the matter by saying, “It’s like Christopher Columbus 2.0, they’re making fun of something that they don’t understand and disrespecting an entire culture along the way. But it’s worse because this time, these boys understand the idea of racism and that it’s something that is incompetent and idiotic but they still continue to disregard the fact that other cultures exist.”
Contrarily, Dylan Schmidt (11) says, “I agree that what they did is very ignorant. But at the same time I believe we need to understand that they are obviously just messing around. What did he do wrong? Stand in from of the man and smile while the man was singing his [song]? I think people hate [Donald] Trump so much and call him a racist, that people see his infamous red hat they automatically label anyone as a racist.”
While it’s true that there was no actual physical interaction between the boys and the Native American, it still doesn’t justify how their intentions were purely innocent. If they were doing no harm standing in front of the man, then why stand in front of him at all? It’s obvious in the video that the Native American is simply standing and drumming to the beat of his song, there’s no reason those boys should have been right up in his face.
They weren’t being outwardly racist towards the man, but what was their purpose in standing so close to him? To provoke him? To render him uncomfortable that he’ll walk away? To show their dominance over the man as existing in a culture that still participates in the mass degradation on Native Americans? It makes no sense.
What is for sure though, is that they were all being majorly disrespectful towards Mr. Phillips. Chanting “Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!” is completely uncalled for and unnecessary. Americans have never strayed from their ideology of destroying the native lands of the Native Americans, but this just further proves how far we are from ridding ourselves of that national shame. Chanting “build that wall?” To a Native American? These boys must have ignorance so deeply engraved into their brains that they don’t possess half the brain cell to realize that Native Americans left their mark on this land far before any of their Northern European ancestors did.
There’s endless amounts of commentary of all sides of the spectrum when it comes to the range of disrespect that surmounted in this video; but really, what the video shows is how far Americans are from ever becoming a country that sees all men as equal.