Nicholas Sandmann spoke Tuesday evening at the Republican National Convention.
On January 18, 2019, teen-aged Nicholas was one of number of students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky who took part in the annual March for Life in Washington, DC. After the demonstrations were over the Covington students gathered in the vicinity of the Lincoln Memorial to wait for their buses. Two other groups were in the area, including American Indians from various tribes gathered for an Indigenous Peoples March and a small coterie of Black Hebrew Israelites. What followed was a confusing mélange of confrontation and controversy.
Many of the Covington students, 15 to 16 year old males, had purchased MAGA hats, and the Black Israelites began shouting racial and homophobic slurs at them as they approached the Lincoln Memorial steps. The students began responding with school chants. Some of the Indians took this as mocking their own tribal chants. Two of the Indians approached the students and began beating their drums. Nathan Phillips, Native American activist, stood directly in front of Sandmann and pounded his ceremonial drum. The young Nicholas smiled and said nothing.
The crowd of people around the Lincoln Memorial was large, and many of them recorded these events on their cellphones or cameras. Of course, these recordings were in bits and pieces, and reactions largely depended on one’s political leanings. The liberal media rushed to television and print with the story, and its interpretation of events was totally skewed by its biases. Left-wing commentators, incensed by the MAGA hats and the all-male, all-White identification of the students, portrayed the Catholic students as the aggressors. Sandmann’s smile was described as a taunt. The students received death threats and the Kentucky school temporarily closed due to fears for its students’ safety.
Of course, Trump got his share of blame. House Representative Deb Haaland wrote, “The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking.” Actress Alyssa Milano wrote, “This is Trump’s America. And it brought me to tears. What are we teaching our young people? Why is this ok? How is this ok? Please help me understand. Because right now I feel like my heart is living outside of my body.”
After the dust slowly began to settle, people began to take a closer look at what had really happened at the Lincoln Memorial. With the help of more film and witness testimony, it became increasingly clear that the Covington Students had done nothing wrong. Their only real crime was to purchase those MAGA hats.
On Tuesday night, at the Republican National Convention, Nicholas Sandmann proudly donned his MAGA hat again.