Nathan Phillips – what an awful lot of people are ignoring

People are ignoring just how much of a liar Nathan Phillips is. I was going to do a post on his changing story, but this’ll do for now.

However, what’s being almost completely ignored even on the right (the NY Post is just about alone in mentioning it, and they don’t emphasize it much at all) are nathanphillipsPhillips’ most vicious lies, told quite early in the game (I’ll get to what they were in a minute). These particular lies probably had a big role in shaping people’s perceptions of the boys and helped to spur their widespread demonization.

It was Phillips himself who quite early on, during his Saturday interview with CNNthat set the original tone and was widely disseminated, gave the following description of the Covington boys:

It looked like these young men were going to attack [the Black Israelites]. They were going to hurt them. They were going to hurt them because they didn’t like the color of their skin. They didn’t like their religious views. They were just here in front of the Lincoln — Lincoln is not my hero, but at the same time, there was this understanding that he brought the (Emancipation Proclamation) or freed the slaves, and here are American youth who are ready to, look like, lynch these guys. To be honest, they looked like they were going to lynch them. They were in this mob mentality.

That is not some disagreement about who went up to whom, or whether the wall was mentioned by the boys, or what caps some of them wore. This is an extremely defamatory statement by a political agitator, designed to shape perceptions that the boys were vicious racists with a killer instinct. The language is purposefully inflammatory and of the harshest variety.

It is a lie, and unless Phillips is clinically insane and out of touch with reality (something I don’t believe is the case), it is a knowing and purposeful lie about a bunch of teenagers who were minding their own business. It is a lie so egregious, so foul, that I really lack words to describe the depth and depravity of that lie.

Can’t really add much to that. He made out these boys, who were actually being attacked verbally were baying for blood. They weren’t. They were acting… well, like you’d expect reasonably well-behaved boys on a school trip to behave. Laughing, joking, talking, not acting out much but also not acting like the adults they were not.

But going to lynch someone? Absurd.

But the media fell for it, because MAGA is racist, right?

There’s also this story from instapundit today.

But I want to add something, which is that this feels personal because it could so easily happen to any of us. The encounter was so mundane that you have to wonder what other non-events will be used to try to destroy you or me. It happened to be video-recorded not because it mattered, but because that’s just so easy with 2019 technology.

Emphasis mine. This is really important, and it’s insane how people ignore it.

Nothing particularly unusual happened here. It’s common at protests regarding any controversial topic for words to be exchanged, and for people to get in the faces of others, and for tempers to get heated. It’s not unusual for people with crackpot theories to turn up either, and it’s not unusual for those crackpots to try to engage with people they dislike in ways that are unpleasant. Actually, the most odd thing about what happened is that no one was actually successfully provoked violence from the targets of that provocation – but you’d easily think the opposite from the media coverage.

News is supposed to be about the unusual. What does it say when the media goes out and destroys the lives of people based on what is actually pretty normal (and pretty good) behaviour? What does it say about the media when they’re prepared to destroy the lives of children, and not even focus on the screaming rantings of a widely-recognised hate group?

I didn’t have to worry about that when I was 16, but I can’t help thinking: what would it have been like if this had happened to me when I was 16? Are some people not having that thought because they see him as the Other, and consequently lack empathy for him?

I also think about what will happen if I ever have a kid. Would my 16-year-old always stay on the right side of the face police? Or might he occasionally be awkward at that age? What if he had some kind of a mental or physical disability that caused him to have facial expressions or body movements that people took the wrong way? (I say “he” because so much of the vituperation that’s been directed at the Covington kids has been explicitly based on their gender.)

The media have filled the shoes of the bully here. They’re the ones going “I don’t like that look on your face”, looking for a flimsy half-excuse to start a fight.

In the past few days, I’ve been under the weather (getting better now, so don’t worry about me), and sometimes as I’ve stood around in a public place, I’ve stopped to think: hey, I might have had an inappropriate facial expression just now, because of a combination of feeling a little out of it and feeling physically uncomfortable. If someone were video-recording me, could they find one still that made it look like I was “disrespecting” the wrong person?

When I see a post saying the kid’s “smirk” (always that same exact word choice) is proof that there’s something bigoted or wicked about him, I wonder if the person saying that has gone through life always making an appropriate facial expression for every social situation. Presumably not, but let’s say that is the case — would you want to be someone who always makes what others consider just the right expression? That sounds like someone who’s very safe and inoffensive and well-scripted, not someone spontaneous and flawed and quirky.

I didn’t see a smirk. I saw a kid trying to put on a brave face in a really weird and awkward situation. But then, I’m not insane.


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