The Kentucky teen who went viral over the weekend for a video in which he stares down a Native American veteran while gleefully smirking says he was “silently praying” while standing eye-to-eye with the elder.
In a letter that Nick Sandmann, the infamous student, released via a public relations firm, he painted himself as the real victim in all this. He also does what so many politicians do when faced with scandal: He pointed to his faith to absolve himself of any wrongdoing:
I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse [sic] the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.
I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me — to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.
Throughout the letter, Sandmann casts his actions as innocent and paints himself the real victim of the situation, but Friendly Atheist notes that rather than “smile at one point”, the MAGA hat-wearing teen grinned significantly longer.
The grin stayed on his face for much longer than that, and anyone who’s been on the receiving end of a look like that knows exactly what it signals. (I’ve also never seen people pray for peace with that look on their faces.)
The statement also doesn’t explain the tomahawk chops coming from the crowd, all the kids laughing in Phillips’ direction, why they all surrounded the Native American, why Sandmann didn’t just step away instead of grinning at Phillips in close range, or what a spokesman for the Indigenous Peoples Movement claimed were the kids’ chants of “build that wall.”
No matter what Sandmann claims, the atmosphere of the encounter was plain as day, as was the overall reason for the boys’ attendance in the first place:
And no matter how people want to spin the conflict caught on tape, there’s no question that these MAGA hat-wearing kids from an all-boys Catholic school were in D.C. attending an event with a goal of controlling women’s bodies against their will. Their religious education still has them thinking it’s God’s Will to force women to give birth (no matter what the women desire) and Donald Trump‘s racist, irrational, and thoughtless policies are somehow making our country better.