First-term Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) apparently deleted a tweet in which she perpetuated several falsehoods about the students of the Covington Catholic High School and their encounter with a group of Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI) and several Native Americans after the Jan. 18 March for Life ended in Washington, D.C.
Dozens of the students were waiting for their bus near the Lincoln Memorial when a small BHI group started to hurl insults at them. The students eventually attempted to drown out the BHI group by school chants and cheers when several Native American activists walked up and inserted themselves into the crowd, beating their drums and performing a Native American chant. The students, some wearing hats with President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” jumped and clapped to the drum beat and for a moment joined the chant.
One of the Native Americans, Nathan Phillips, 64, approached one of the students and came so close as to beat the drum inches from the student’s face. The student, Nick Sandmann, responded by silently looking at the Native American man, mildly smiling. The incident lasted several minutes.
Multiple media, acting on incomplete information, portrayed the students as mocking the Native Americans out of racial prejudice, which the students deny. The students have received a deluge of scorn and threats based on the skewed portrayal of the incident. A lawyer for the students’ families has threatened a libel suit on those who don’t correct or retract false claims about the students.
In a Jan. 22 tweet, Trump said the students “have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.”
In response, Omar wrote on Twitter: “The boys were protesting a woman’s right to choose & yelled ‘It’s not rape if you enjoy it.’ They were taunting 5 Black men before they surrounded Phillips and led racist chants. Sandmann’s family hired a right-wing PR firm to write his non-apology.”
The now unavailable tweet contained a number of false statements and inaccuracies.
The students were the ones accosted by the BHI group and, based on multiple videos of the incident, they didn’t seem to respond in kind.
Also, they didn’t “surround” Phillips, as claimed. It was Phillips who inserted himself into their midst after they had already started chanting.
According to videos of the incident, the students appear to have joined the Native American chant for a while and didn’t respond with a racist chant of their own.
When the students engaged in a back-and-forth with the BHI group, there was indeed a teenager on site who said, “It’s not rape if you enjoy it.” He, however, doesn’t attend Covington, according to a witness who could be heard in a video of the incident. Twitter user @AG_Conservative, who specializes in media fact-checking, wrote in a Jan 22 tweet he has since been able to confirm that the student attends a different high school.
Omar was correct that Sandmann’s family hired a PR firm.
“Any sane kid would use PR help if he could to write the most important statement of his young life,” David French, senior fellow at the conservative National Review Institute, responded in a Jan. 22 tweet.
Omar’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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