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January 20, 2019

Anatomy of a Narrative

Yesterday (unexpectedly!), Twitter exploded into paroxysms of rage. We were presented with a video (below), that showed a group of white teenagers in MAGA hats who, it's reported, surrounded a native American Vietnam vet (suddenly the left cares about vets) and mocked him (That's from WaPo, but I can't link it because of their paywall). The NYT called the kids a “mob” (Story), while USA Today screamed about “Blatant racism. They all talked about the smug white kids getting in the face of the poor, peaceful native American who was innocently taking part in the Indigenous Peoples March.


So let's unpack this.

Here is the video that was initially widely shared on social media:

I'll admit, when I initially saw just this video, I wondered “Gee, why are they harassing that man? That seems rude and way out of line”. Remember, it was presented as these kids “surrounding” and “taunting” the man. Twitter agreed. Left wing Twitter was in free-fall, melting down about “racism” and “bigotry” and exploding, as I said above, into paroxysms of rage. There were demands that these kids be doxed (and typically, the first widespread doxing attempt targeted the wrong guy completely. Some poor schlub who was attending his brother's wedding suddenly had his social media explode with calls for his head on a pike), expelled, prevented from going to college, put on blacklists for employment, etc, etc. (Whoever said that the left has managed to recreate Maoism without Mao was dead in the black) That's to be expected, but a good chunk of right wing twitter was joining the chorus. I saw numerous twitter accounts from people (including some who post here) I know to be normally thoughtful and prudent conservatives leaping into the fray and savaging these kids. I saw no doxing calls, and most at least prefaced their condemnations with some variation of “they're just kids”, but the mob was in full howl. * I * was prepared to join them, at least in spirit, but here's the thing. I don't trust the media. Any of it. 95% or more of what's presented in the media is designed to emotionally manipulate you into an unthinking reaction. So I waited, and lo and behold, the story started to come out.


Who were these kids? Well, as it turns out, they were a group of kids from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, in town for the March for Life. They had been told to meet on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by 5:30 to catch their buses home. They were in high spirits, roughhousing and catcalling each other and chanting school cheers. Unfortunately for them, also at the Lincoln Memorial was a group of leftist grievance groups, gathering for the Indigenous Peoples March. Among these groups was Phillips (the native American with the drum) and Shar Yaqataz Banyamyan, who is a “Secured Party Hebrew Israelite American National, of the Tribe of Benjamin “ (That's from his Facebook page).

So, to set the stage: Here on the steps we have a boisterous group of mostly white, Catholic high school boys, roughhousing and chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Over there we have the leftists activists, including Mrs Phillips and Banyamyan. We are told that the boys (mob), proceeded to surround Mr. Phillips, who was innocently drumming, “taunting” and “intimidating” him and shouting “racist” phrases including “Build the wall!”. We are given the above video to prove this point (although I've watched hours of film of the incident and haven't heard “build the wall” once) That would be pretty despicable behavior, if true. But see, here's the thing. In this age of cell phones, it's not just one person who has a television studio in their pocket, it's everybody. And with everybody filming, it's now nigh impossible for any one piece of film, however edited or tightly framed, to carry the narrative. Set it, sure, see the above clip, but carry it? No. Lets look at the scene from another angle.

Well now, isn't that interesting. As we can see, the Covington kids were dancing and chanting when Mr. Phillips decided to march into their circle. In fact, once you have that context, the entire first clip takes on a different light. Suddenly what we see is a bunch of exuberant kids and “Hey, look here, this drum guy is coming to join us! Yaaaaah!”. You can say that the tomahawk chops were “culturally insensitive”, and I'll give that to you using the standards of hyper-PC culture that the left is demanding, but really, if that's all “racism” is now, haven't we pretty much solved that problem?

To my mind, we now have a totally different situation than the narrative we were spoon fed. Could the kids have been better behaved? I suppose so, but I don't see them doing anything wrong, and in the full video below they show remarkable restraint when Mr. Benyamyan get into it (at one point he yells to the kids “You president is a homosexual!” and several shout back “Who cares?” Just another example of the rampant homophobia on the right donchakno).

Ahh, yes, Mr. Benyamyan. Why did I bring him up in the first place? Well, Mr. Benyamyan did us the service of filming his entire day protesting. He took it down once it was discovered that his film pretty much destroyed the narrative, but the internet, bless its black little heart, is forever. If you have a couple of hours, you can watch the entire event play out,

The part with the Indian and the kids starts shortly after 1:10, and if you watch for 20 minutes or so, you'll see Mr. Benyamyan shouting quite a number of racist and homophobic slurs at the kids. I will confess that I fast forwarded through the first hour of the film, so I'm making no claims on what occurred during that part, so if there's something earth shattering that I missed please tell me, but I've been investigating this for a couple of hours today and I've seen no references to anything.

So there you have it. A perfect case illustrating exactly how the media manipulates a story to push a preferred narrative. The conclusions I've presented here are my own, based upon the available evidence which I've presented above, feel free to draw your own. If you have a compelling counter argument (with evidence), please present it below. There's a lot more information available out there, particularly on Twitter (like statements from the students themselves and a (predictable) knee-jerk condemnation of the kids from the Diocese of Covington ), go see for yourself. Never, ever, ever believe what the media tells you to believe without checking into it personally.

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posted by WeirdDave at 01:23 PM

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