The Covington Catholic School students have brought nothing short of an uproar in the recent media with opinions straying from far and wide in terms of just who’s to blame.
Some point the blame to Omaha Native America elder Nathan Phillips, who stepped forward and played a traditional song and prayer in the midst of the mess. However, the most people have come to criticize is confusion with his time as a ‘Vietnam-era’ veteran and a criminal record from when he was a 19-year old boy.
So, for the Covington Boys who are arguably around the same age as Phillips would’ve been, they’re just children whose lives are being unfairly ruined – but for Phillip’s, it’s questionable.
Though others have pointed fingers at the Black Hebrew Israelites who’re believed to have been hurling insults at both the boys and Phillips and were even recorded in a confrontation with the students just before Phillips arrived.
One of the Israelites present at the event, Epharim Israel later told The Washington Post that the students “were mocking me as I was trying to teach my brothers, so yes, the attention turned to them.”
Other recordings reveal the group harassing others throughout the day as well. Yet, the same can be said for the Covington Boys.
However regardless, most of the blame has been pointed to the boys – and as a result, more controversial revelations about their school have come forward such as a gay valedictorian who was banned from speaking at his class’s 2018 graduation ceremony and the blackface worn proudly by students during their basketball games.
So, it doesn’t quite help that in their now widespread photographed confrontation with Phillips, both Nick Sandmann and the other students are proudly shown in their MAGA hats.
In fact, the MAGA hats have played an insanely huge role in all of this.
After all, staring at the photo, it’s hard for the viewer’s eyes not be dragged to the glaringly bright red hat with its now infamous saying of ‘Make America Great Again’.
But it wasn’t just poor fashion sense that left so many brimming with anger at the sight of it.
It’s what the MAGA hat now represents – it’s a symbol.
A symbol for hate.
It’s a symbol of support for a Muslim ban abandoning desperate refugees and immigrants, barring transgender people from protecting their nation, caging children, separating families, degrading women, protecting white supremacy, and so many other, awful, terrible things.
Since Trump’s been elected to office , over 150 incidents in 39 states have been recorded throughout the country where people invoked Trump’s name while harassing or assaulting marginalized groups.
An example can be seen with a gay man in Michigan who was taunted with threats from a group of men shouting “Trump is going to get rid of people like you.”
Or the Asian American woman in California who had her hair pulled by a woman who told her she had to “go back to China” now that Trump was in office.
Even before his election, hate was already being spewed in his name. Such as with Najwa Sebbahi who witnessed a middle-aged woman’s islamphobic rant three weeks before the 2016 election where she was recited saying “Trump is going to get rid of all you terrorists,” which subsequently resulted in the police being called after the woman pushed a Pakistani-American girl.
So, to say the MAGA hat is just a piece of clothing isn’t entirely true at this point because for the marginalized people who’ve been targeted by Trump supporters – it’s so much more.
It’s a symbol for the leader of the U.S. who has abandoned them.
Admittedly, not everyone who wears a MAGA hat is a hate-filled nativist, but wearing one does align yourself with those thoughts and ideas.
Just as when teenagers find shows or stories they like, they purchase merchandise – whether in the form of t-shirts, figures, etc – to show they enjoy or relate to that media. Trump supporters are doing the same thing when they wear a MAGA hat, showing the rest of the world what they align with and believe in.
Just in this case, the wearer is aligning with xenophobia and alienation of marginalized groups.
This after all an alignment with the man who defended white supremacists are Charlottesville, and had his campaign contributed and continuously supported by the former leader of the KKK.
Continuing, this is the man who’s repeatedly degraded mexicans, stating them to be “rapists” when he’s the one with multiple sexual assault allegations and a history of sexist behavior.
Not only that, but he’s encouraged violence throughout in rallies during his campaign, inciting his supporters with reminders of “the old days” where “They’d [protesters] be carried out on a stretcher, folks. It’s true… I’d like to punch him in the face I tell you.”
And even now, with so many carrying out hate crimes in his name – he’s said and done nothing.
He’s only continued to enable them.
However, to those drawing comparisons to the #MeToo movement with a woman wearing a short skirt must be ‘asking for it’ and a person wearing a MAGA hat asking for a confrontation, there’s simply no remote correlation.
A woman wearing a short skirt or anything remotely revealing is not inviting sexual assault and she certainly isn’t aligning herself with any views that’d say otherwise.
A skirt or revealing piece of clothing holds no political beliefs or ideology, it’s never been an invitation for rape or assault nor will it ever.
However, a person wearing a MAGA hat, is wearing something directly tied to and created by Donald Trump for those who believe in him and his actions – it’s his campaign merchandise, it goes to support him, and displays his infamous phrase that’s incited so much hate and fear for marginalized people.
‘Make America Great Again’.
But if this is what supposedly makes America great again, maybe we never were from the beginning.
And at this rate, we may never be.