Well, the information we initially got was that the kids were taunting Phillips, which is reprehensible behavior … and yeah, even if meant innocently, the hats didn’t help. The smile/smirk that was caught on the main kid in the usual still photo very much screams “entitled white kid being a jerkwad,” which is not something Catholics want to see from our young people at the March for Life.
Phillips seems to have believed he was protecting the kids and the African-American group from each other, defusing violence. The recent statement by the main kid indicates he was attempting the same thing, and felt he was the one being confronted and provoked.
Meanwhile, the African-American group are apparently the Black Hebrew Israelites, a nutty fringe sect who, I have read, show up at every major DC event and insult everybody, like a black pseudo-Jewish version of the Westboro Baptist Church. People who attend a lot of marches and protests know to ignore them, but the Covington kids likely did not.
It looks like there may, in fact, be issues with bigotry at Covington Catholic, so this whole thing will have good results if those are examined and addressed. But if the “main kid” is telling the truth about what happened (we should be skeptical of both narratives, after all, not just the initial one), then I hope he and his fellows don’t get “thrown under the bus,” as others have said. Of course, that kid had no control over the other kids, so it’s possible Phillips is equally telling the truth when he says there were yells of “Build the wall” from the group. Unfortunately, that does not sound entirely out of character for young people in a charged situation with a person of color, and we know some of them were proud Trump supporters. (And, of course, nastier things were being yelled at them by the BHI and possibly by one of Phillips’ companions.)
If you put all the stories together, you can see how the whole thing happened even if we credit both Phillips and the main kid with sincerely peaceful intentions. But it’s important we not just cling to the version we like best and jump wholeheartedly behind “our side,” whichever side that is.