Trump has continued to embrace racism and bigotry from the office of the presidency — and clearly, his MAGA-hat wearing supporters have taken notice.
Just days after a viral video surfaced showing a mob of high school students wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and chanting in the face of a Native American veteran, Trump weighed in on the racist incident — and once again, both he and his White House are taking the side of the racists.
In a series of tweets, Trump publicly defended Nick Sandmann and other students from Covington Catholic High School, an elite, all-male, nearly all-white private school in Kentucky, who were captured on camera engaging in a shocking confrontation with a Native American elder.
"Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be," Trump tweeted. "They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good - maybe even to bring people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream!"
The video originally sparked widespread condemnation, and rightly so. It showed a mob of dozens of young white men laughing and doing the "tomahawk chop” ― a chant and gesture that Native Americans condemn as racially insensitive ― while Sandmann stared down and smirked for an uncomfortably long time at Native American elder Nathan Phillips, who was singing and playing a drum.
In the days since that video went viral, other videos and stories from other students suggested that it's not at all unusual for Covington students to express bigoted views.
But conservative commentators still managed to spark a backlash to the backlash by claiming that the whole thing had just been a misunderstanding and taken out of context, and that the media was unfairly condemning the Covington students.
And Trump was happy to amplify that narrative. Ignoring the video that clearly showed the students were the aggressors in the incident, Trump raged that the high school students had been "treated unfairly" and "smeared by the media." Apparently, Trump saw kindred spirits in these privileged white males who were caught engaging in racist attacks.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also released a statement announcing that the students had been invited to the White House. And in a Fox news appearance, Sanders bemoaned the allegedly unfair treatment the students had suffered at the hands of the media.
In the version of events endorsed by Trump and Sanders — laid out in a carefully worded statement from Sandmann, who has refused to apologize — the dozens of students were innocent victims of verbal harassment from a small group of four black religious activists, and the racist tomahawk chants and creepy staring match were nothing more than awkward attempts at solidarity and confusion after Phillips approached the students to try to defuse the conflict.
Phillips, who was participating in the Indigenous People’s March, did say he felt compelled to go stand between Sandmann and the black activists to defuse what he believed was a potentially dangerous situation. But he also said he found the Covington students' reactions to be racist, and that he heard them chant slogans like "Build that wall!"
What's more, it has become apparent that the students' behavior wasn't an isolated incident.
Christian Bales, the valedictorian of Holy Cross High School — one of the other private religious schools run by the Kansas Covington Diocese — told NBC News that he "was not surprised at all" to hear about the incident.
"It was only a matter of time that something this school community did would blow up to this degree, and I think they need to be held accountable," Bales said, adding that Covington is "notorious for being a not-well-disciplined school."
Other accusations of racist, sexist, and anti-gay behavior soon emerged. One Twitter user spoke out about being harassed by Covington students for being gay, while documentarian Arlen Parsa reported that members of the community acknowledged there "is an ingrained sexism problem" at the elite private school.
On the sexism front, the group of male students was in D.C. to participate in an anti-abortion march — and additional video surfaced from last weekend of another Covington student shouting, "It’s not rape if you enjoy it."
Parsa also quoted black students who said they got bullied at the nearly all-white school. And yet another video, this time from 2011, showed white Covington students in what appears to be blackface at their basketball games.
This obvious and repeated racist behavior has been widely condemned — but not by Trump and some of his supporters, who have tried to blame the media instead of being honest about the harms of racism.
Of course, this is nothing new for Trump, who has repeatedly sided with racists and sympathized with even the most unsympathetic, violent neo-Nazis.
On the one-year anniversary of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which a neo-Nazi murdered anti-racist protester Heather Heyer, Trump refused to condemn the racists responsible for the horrific attack.
His statement gushing about his "dream" that the Covington students' ugly behavior would "bring people together" echoes his initial response to Heyer's murder, when he blamed people on "both sides" for the neo-Nazi violence and later described the white supremacists who attended the rally as "very fine people."
Since the tragedy in Charlottesville, Trump has continued to embrace racism and bigotry from the office of the presidency — and clearly, his MAGA-hat wearing supporters have taken notice.
Published with permission of The American Independent.