If you haven’t watched the viral clip of 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann and his fellow Covington Catholic school students smugly mocking Nathan Phillips, a Native American elder attending the Indigenous Peoples March, well, we’d gladly join you under that rock you call home. It’s not too great out here.
The video made the social media rounds, sparking deserved outrage from many and inspiring right-wingers to come to the smirking kid’s defense. Now, Sandmann’s parents are suing The Washington Post for $250 million for defamation following the January incident. They allege that the paper “engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Kentucky and claims that the Post “wrongfully targeted and bullied Nicholas because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap.”
Let’s get something straight here—Sandmann made himself a subject of public debate with his abhorrent behavior. The MAGA hat is no ordinary piece of clothing. Comparisons to Nazi garb are not unfounded. Since taking office and making that hat his unofficial uniform, Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to build an unnecessary wall, separated children from their parents at the southern border and continually spouted racist speech. Wearing a MAGA hat shows endorsement for Trump’s belligerently xenophobic policies. If you want to wear something benign, put on a cap for a damn sports team and make sure that it isn’t the Redskins. The MAGA hat makes a statement, as much as Sandmann’s insolent manner towards Phillips.
Keep in mind, too, that the particular clip is not the only video from that day showing Covington Catholic students mocking those around them. If Sandmann’s parents want to keep their son and his classmates from being “defamed,” then maybe they should teach them to stop being prejudiced. He wasn’t being defamed; he was being documented. It’s 2019, which means your awful behavior will be caught on camera.
As for the Post, their Vice President for Communications Kristine Coratti Kelly told Reuters, “We are reviewing a copy of the lawsuit and we plan to mount a vigorous defense.”
According to Sandmann’s lawyer, Lin Wood, this is the first of similar impending lawsuits related to this incident. Whoopee.