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It was almost too strange to believe. I am sure that you all have seen on TV the confrontation between the high school junior and a Vietnam era Native American soldier. If you see the video, here is a kid wearing a Make America Great Again hat and a smirk on his face standing two feet in front of a Native American soldier who was playing a drum and chanting.

Add to that scenario the whole thing takes place on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The kid is from an all-male Catholic High School in Kentucky, part of a group shipped there on a bus to participate in a Pro-Life (Anti-Abortion) demonstration. The soldier is using his right to protest the same as the kid. Simple right? Not so much. It is like we have fallen down the rabbit hole.

The whole event can be turned into a made for TV movie. As of this writing it appears that the school kids were being hassled by “Black Israelite” protesters and the Native American soldier stepped between the two to head off the situation. The student says that the Native American soldier in his attempt to “head off a situation” violated his personal space and that he was doing nothing. The student’s mother said he was influenced by “Black Muslims” and that is why he reacted the way he did. Confused yet? We all are. Of course the media got the blame.

As I was reading all the articles and looking at all the videos on TV I can across a statement in the New York Times that really put things in light. “They are kids. Everyone forgets that, ” said Park Hills Mayor Kathy Zembrodt, who expressed anger about the initial portrayal of the students as aggressors in the Lincoln Memorial encounter. An astute observation from the Park Hills mayor. Indeed they are, so I have to ask the obvious question: What were they doing there in the first place?

They were there because they are members of the Catholic faith and go to an all-male Catholic High/prep school. Of course their experience on the “Right to Life” or the “Right to Choose” is pretty limited. They have been raised and guided in a faith that is in and of itself trying to come to grips with the fundamental issues facing their church.

The young man in the middle of the whirlpool, Nicholas Sandmann, probably never thought of who, what, when, where or why he was in Washington D.C. when the feathers hit the fan. Wearing a “Make America Great Hat” also put him on front street.

Like many Americans, Park Hills City Councilwoman Wesley Deters saw the original video clip on social media. After reviewing the video, Ms. Deters came to the conclusion that “Our children were used as pawns for an ulterior leftist agenda,” she said.

Whoa there Wesley. I doubt if any lefties put high school kids on a bus and sent them Washington D.C. to have them participate in a “Right to Life” March. I doubt if any lefties put Make America Great Again hats on their heads. I doubt if any lefties put them in the middle of the mall. Before things got out of hand where were the teachers and adult chaperons to guide your flock? They must have been sightseeing at the Lincoln Memorial.

So what can we learn from all this? Is it truly a teaching moment? Nope. We will continue on as before. The lessons of Martin Luther King Jr. taught us have gone unlearned. The irony of a young white boy standing in front of an elder of the Omaha tribe, proves that we learned nothing since George Custer made a visited the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes back in June of 1876.

Nick, while we will probably never meet, I wish you well. I would be fascinated to meet you in about 15 years to see if you Made America Great Again and to see if the influences your high school education are still with you. Hopefully you learned from your experience; if so the experience was worth it. Life has a way of kicking our butts so be safe out there. Have a good one.

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John R. Andersen of Lake Hallie is a former state employee who remains active in the fields of fire prevention, government and education.


(1) comment


I disagree with your take here..
This was a story upon which nearly all of the mainstream media and a vast array of left wing Internet personalities ran aground, a story which seems to be based upon one carefully edited bit of video..
Any fair minded person who takes the time to review the hours of available video and the back stories of the adults on the scene sees something different... young men, and in particular a sixteen year old boy, set upon, first by a profane group of “Black Hebrew Israelites”, adult black men loudly spewing an endless litany of racist homophobic garbage at these boys accompanied by challenges to enter physical altercations..
Those men had every right to do so, in fact I would defend their right to do so if they were denied that right but that in no way lessens the disgusting nature of their vile speeches.
That went on for upwards of an hour,
For a few minutes the boys shouted school chants, the exact sort of thing you might see at a Chi High basketball game..
After they did their cheers, the boys settled down and the Black Hebrews picked up right where they had left off.. loudly spewing horrible, racist, homophobic vile..
And then, a pounding on a drum could be heard off camera and into the scene marches a “Native American elder Vietnam vet, singing a peace prayer”.
He walked directly into the group of boys..
It turns out that 63-64 year old Nathan Phillips is not a Vietnam Vet... he is a bully (previously convicted of assault) Accompanied by a camera crew, he was apparently looking for a confrontation...
(He was in a similar 3-4 years ago when he accosted a bunch of college kids in Michigan..)
As he waded into the crowd of school kids, beating on a drum (a drum he had just borrowed from somebody else) and loudly chanting a song that wasn’t a peace prayer (as widely reported) but rather the traditional song which had been sung by the Cheyenne braves who had just killed Custer at the little big horn, a song tinted with aggression, a battle cry.
He was accompanied by a woman dancing, another drummer and five or six people with cameras. When Phillips and his entourage approached, the boys started dancing and singing along in a joyous manner.
He went directly up to boys in pro trump hats (a small minority of all the Covington kids) the first two boys in red hats looked confused and turned away from Phillips ... but let’s face it, that wasn’t the reaction Phillips was looking for...
On his third attempt he found a boy who wasn’t sure what to do, one who just stood there as Phillips pounded the borrowed drum directly in the boy’s ear and yelled in his face...
It was an act of bullying, 64 year old Nathan Phillips aggressively accosted this 16 year old boy and had a camera crew on hand to film every second of it..
And then something amazing happened..
Nicholas Sandmann, a boy of sixteen, did something wonderful, he smiled..
He smiled in the disarming manner of a child, he was surrounded by strange men and women all pointing cameras at him and he smiled a shy disarming smile.
As that was going on, one of Phillips companions started screaming and swearing at another boy ..
Then Nicholas Sandmann did another amazing thing, he turned to the other Covington boy and gave him a hand signal indicating that he should not engage...
I think that any fair person would have to say that Nicholas Sandmann’s actions on the Lincoln Memorial steps were, not only appropriate but admirable.
Beyond that, it’s pretty clear that young Mr. Sandmann has been libeled by many media outlets, large and small..
I hope that his family sues those responsible and that the results are not hidden within non-disclosure agreements.
A bitter old man wanted to make a propaganda piece designed to inflame racial tensions...
He used these boys as pawns in his design... Nicholas Sandmann is incredibly lucky that there were other, random cameras trained on the events which transpired because it was clearly Mr. Phillips’ intention to do this boy harm (and he almost pulled it off)
The fact that two weeks later and in light of the incontrovertible evidence that Nick Sandmann was the target of a talented purveyor of propaganda, victim of a political hit piece designed to destroy a young man’s life, columnists like John will still use this story as a foundational piece in one of his political diatribes displays the terrible destructive power of identity politics. These voices carry, the news media has become nothing but misguided opinion, devoid of reasoned thought or even facts.
We have been through these spasms of thoughtlessness before...
Reagan’s election was greeted with similar paroxysms of political passion...
But now there is a twist, our public universities have been transformed into political weapons, dissent is shouted down. The pathway to academic success was once reason and intellectual prowess.. now it seems that academia has become a political minefield where questions are seen as a form of terrorism and politically correct thought is a prerequisite for a professorial career.
I remember taking a women’s studies course in the early 1980’s... men weren’t allowed to speak.. it was a shock... in every other academic moment in my life questions were celebrated, free thinking was rewarded... but suddenly, in the early eighties, education was supplanted by indoctrination. Your grade depended upon how vigorously you nodded, how empathetically you agreed...
We are entering a brave new world where reason itself is under attack...
We are pushed into intellectual pens by propaganda cattle prods as politicians work hard to separate us into easily managed political sub divisions...
A quick litmus test of what you are for or against wedges us into ever smaller target groups.. are you white? Or Black?
Male or female? Old or young? Pro bureaucracy or pro entrepreneur?
Religious or skeptical?
Once you are penned in with your tribal cohort you had better moo when the tribe moos or you will be ostracized.
In my youth religion seemed like an intellectual straight jacket and academia the haven of reason...
But something has gone terribly wrong..
Up and down the chain of education an ideology of political correctness has taken hold.. the institutions seem to have let truth and reason fall by the wayside..
Dissent is punished.
I think that our whole society will face consequences for crushing the flower of reasoned argument under the jack boot of identity politics.

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