Op-Ed: Don’t be a bystander

Nathan+Phillips+%28right%29+and+Nick+Sandmann+%28left%29
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Op-Ed: Don’t be a bystander

Nathan Phillips (right) and Nick Sandmann (left)

Nathan Phillips (right) and Nick Sandmann (left)

Vox

Nathan Phillips (right) and Nick Sandmann (left)

Vox

Vox

Nathan Phillips (right) and Nick Sandmann (left)

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On December 24, 1865 confederate veteran Nathan Bedford Forrest along with five other veterans gathered in Pulaski Tennessee and formed a group that was built on the goals of using fear mongering and violence in an attempt to intimidate and keep the Republican party in check as well as carry out religiously and ethnically charged attacks against African Americans, Jews, Immigrants, and even Catholics. This group was known as the Ku Klux Klan or, as it’s more commonly known, the KKK.

While, often forgotten, Catholics in America faced discrimination not so long ago. In the 20th century at the height of the KKK’s influence, having accumulated nearly 4 million members nationwide, an outspoken anti-catholic KKK member by the name of Hugo Black was able to secure a spot on the US Senate and subsequently the Supreme Court. At this time anti-catholicism had become one of the main talking points of the Klan’s white supremacist agenda. It wasn’t until around 1961 when John F Kennedy, the first catholic president, took office that the rampant and violent anti-catholic sentiment died down. Although, even President Kennedy wasn’t free from prejudice with many claiming that he was simply a pawn for the Pope.

Today such hatred for Catholics seems like an absurd impossibility, although one may have also said that about discrimination towards the Jewish community up until recently. However, according to Pew Research center antisemitism has risen significantly in the 21st century, with Britain reaching a record level of antisemitism, at a staggering 1,000 recorded anti-semitic incidents occurring in 2014 alone.*

America is certainly not innocent of this crime either with controversy sparking over the alleged anti semitism that has accompanied the Women’s March as experience by Ms. Wurble who recounted her experience with the New York Times.**

More recently a new story has garnered the attention of the Media, one of so called racial discrimination against indigenous groups. Originating from a 30 second video on Buzzfeed, in which a young boy in a a MAGA hat smiled at an indigenous man as he beat his drum, the story sparked mass outrage. People, from ordinary citizens to politicians and celebrities, crawled out from the darkest corners of the Twitter to self righteously tweet out against what they viewed as a clear indicator of “racism” and “white supremacy.” At alarming rates the internet made their verdict deciding that these boys who had clearly been smiling maliciously at the indigenous man- something eerily reminiscent of George Orwell’s term of FaceCrime- and began an onslaught of vicious texts, inciting violence, doxxing, and demanding to know the identities of each boy who had been present.

The indigenous man, later identified as Nathan Phillips told major news outlets that he had been surrounded and was scared as the boys surrounded him, however, but a few hours later a new longer video surfaced revealing that that had been rather far from the truth. This video depicted the group of boys who attend Covington Catholic to be waiting for transport to the March for Life, a protest against abortion, when they were verbally abused by several black Israelites. Names flung at them included, “Future School Shooters”, “incest babies”, and “crackers.” Through this video it also became abundantly clear that unlike Phillip’s had claimed,

these boys had not in fact surrounded him. Adversely he had approached them intentionally banging his drum near the face of a boy who was later identified as Nick Sandmann.

The media at large decided to ignore this evidence and rather than retract there prior statements began to search for and create supposedly incriminating evidence against them, going as far as to find a photo from 2008 in which Covington Catholic youth doused themselves in black paint and wore black clothing to a basketball in which the theme was a blackout under the premise that it was “black face” and that they were “ridiculing” African American players. Shortly after another video emerged in which a Covington Catholic student told a girl that “it’s not rape if you enjoy it,” only, that boy wasn’t from Covington Catholic as another boy exclaims only seconds later in a section that was initially edited out.

As for poor Nathan Phillips who had been so victimized by these boys? Turns out he is well known for instigating conflicts and that this confrontation with the Covington Catholic boys may have been an intentional attempt to vilify Catholics. A point further supported by the news that only a day after his interaction with the Covington Catholic boys he had gathered 600 protesters to infiltrate mass, one of Catholicism’s most sacred rituals, at DC’s Basilica and National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception a prominent Roman Catholic Church in the District of Columbia and demanded reparations from Catholics who he felt had historically oppressed Natives. His stunt was so disruptive that security had to intervene.

Despite these facts, the media has been relentless in its attacks against the Covington boys, trying to push blame on them because they happened to be white, male, and donning MAGA hats. Actions that are all constitutionally protected under the first amendment. Ignoring facts, the media continues to employ bullying tactics, endorsing violence against these boys and making them fear for their lives in a way that is deeply reminiscent of those that the KKK used in the 1920s. As children we are told that we should never ever stand by and watch a bully attack someone. That we should say something because being a bystander is just as bad as being a bully. That is no different here, when the media bullies minors for crimes they did not commit one cannot stay silent. It is the silent majority that allows hate to rise, toady just as much as it was when the KKK terrorized religious and ethnic groups from the reconstruction to the 1920s. Bullies take many forms, from a mean kid at school, to massive organizations like the Nazi party, to domestic terrorists such as the KKK, groups that were all allowed to flourish because people chose to be bystanders instead of speaking out. This is the same, only now they have traded their white robes in for ones of “tolerance” and the ever sacred minority status. It’s our choice whether we let them rise, it’s our choice whether we allow this discrimination. A choice we make when we decide whether we will be a bystander or speak out. I’ve made my choice, have you?

Sources

(http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/02/09/europes-jewish-population/) (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/23/us/womens-march-anti-semitism.html) https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/nathan-phillips-rally-attempted-to-disrupt-mass-at-d cs-national-shrine-91038

https://www.history.com/topics/reconstruction/ku-klux-klan https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/modern-hates-anti-catholic-roots https://reimaginingmigration.org/american-anti-catholicism-in-the-1920s/ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/12/america-history-of-hating-catholics https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/juliareinstein/teens-taunted-native-american-elder-indige nous-peoples-march https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/21/us/nathan-phillips-maga-teens-interview/index.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwNyOD8FIQk https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/covington-catholic-black-paint/