It should not be a surprise to anyone living in the United States that our current political climate is extremely polarized.
Polarized by definition means divided into two sharply contrasting groups or sets of opinions or beliefs according to Merriam-Webster.
It can be argued that America found itself this way in the later years of the Obama administration and became even more polarized during the 2016 elections.
Following the election of Donald Trump and in the two years that he has now held office, Americans find themselves at odds.
You are either left or right and if someone stands on the opposite side from you, they are wrong.
It is because of our current polarized political climate that the Jan. 18 video of Nick Sandmann, a junior at Covington Catholic High School, standing in front of Nathan Phillips, a Native American Vietnam War veteran on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., went viral.
Sandmann and some of his schoolmates surrounding him in the video wear stark red Make America Great Again hats and other apparel that shows support for Trump as they loudly and enthusiastically shout.
Sandmann stands tall looking Phillips in the eye and smirks.
Phillips bangs his drum and chants loudly.
The scene is chaotic and mesmerizing.
When the video was posted to Twitter, it spread like wildfire. It appeared that most people had an opinion about the group of boys and the loudest opinion was that the Covington boys were hateful young boys who were following the Trump brand of hatred and disrespect.
Through the opinions flooding social media, the boys were identified as a group of students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky who were in the nation’s capital for a pro-life march.
Phillips was soon identified as a Vietnam veteran which fueled the fire storm against the boys even more. The narrative appeared simple. These young boys wearing the iconic red MAGA hat were signs of why Trumpism is dangerous.
Except the narrative wasn’t simple. In fact, it was the equivalent of a badly tangled pair of headphones that had no chance of being fixed.
Another video emerged of a group of Black Hebrew Israelites yelling at the group of boys before they had their encounter with Mr. Phillips.
The Black Hebrew Israelites called the group numerous names including Donald Trump incest children. A statement from Sandmann that would come later in the day claimed the yelling from the boys was to block out the chants and yells from the Black Hebrew Israelites and that he had meant no harm when he stood in front of Phillips. It was hard to keep up and it posed a dilemma to the earlier posed narrative.
It is very clear that this video helped the left point fingers at the right, but the fallout of it all allowed the right to point fingers at the left. Media outlets were very quick to pick up the story. They jumped on the bandwagon of attacking the actions of the boys and repeated how disgraceful it was to disrespect a Vietnam veteran.
This video is the result of a polarized country. People are quick to jump on things that validate their perspective and opinions before taking a step back and looking at all the information. If it makes them look right and you look wrong, it’s a goldmine for them. The fallout of the Covington video was bad, and it could get worse.
Now is not the time to stay on your side and sneer at the other. Next time, take a deep breath and wait for all the facts so that the full, clearer picture can be seen.