A Kentucky teen who became the subject of a viral video after an incident during a class field trip to Washington, D.C., warned viewers of the Republican National Convention Tuesday of an “outrage mob” that threatens to silence conservative viewpoints.
After Nick Sandmann attended the March for Life anti-abortion rally with his former classmates from Covington Catholic High School in January 2019, a cellphone video of a close, face-to-face interaction between the students and a Native American demonstrator spread quickly online.
Sandmann later sued multiple media outlets, alleging they had taken the incident out of context, portraying him as mocking the demonstrator. This year, Sandmann agreed to undisclosed settlements with CNN and the Washington Post.
“I learned that what was happening to me had a name. It was called being cancelled. As in annulled. As in revoked. As in made void,” Sandmann said Tuesday in a segment at the convention. “Cancelled is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by the far left. Many are being fired, humiliated, or even threatened. Often, the media is a willing participant.”
President Donald Trump has frequently flagged “cancel culture” in his re-election campaign, slamming calls to take down Confederate statues. Some pundits called his comments hypocritical after he called for a boycott of Goodyear tires when he learned the company wouldn’t let employees wear his campaign hats to work.
Trump also has made teaching “American exceptionalism” in schools one of only two education priorities on his second-term agenda released this week in lieu of a party platform, seemingly in response to recent calls to teach more fully about slavery and racial injustice in schools.
Sandmann, speaking in a prerecorded video from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Tuesday, didn’t speak in support of any specific Trump policy, but he praised the president for challenging the “mainstream media.”
In the 2019 viral video, recorded at the Lincoln Memorial, Sandmann and his then classmates wore red “Make America Great Again” hats while standing very close to Native American demonstrator Nathan Phillips, who played a drum and sang. Sandmann, who smiled throughout the video, was accused by some of mocking Phillips.
Other videos, which emerged after initial media reports, showed there was another group, members of the Black Hebrew Israelites, who yelled at the students that day. Phillips had approached the students, not the other way around, the videos showed. Phillips has said he was trying to calm tensions.
Other speakers touched on similar themes Tuesday. But they didn’t cite specific Trump policies that would address their concerns.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul called on viewers to “stand up and fight the socialists poisoning our schools and burning our cities” by voting for Trump.
Trump’s daughter Tiffany said there are consequences “when only one side of the story gets out or when only one viewpoint is acceptable.”
“For our education system it meant sacrificing civil debate, by creating an atmosphere where students with contrary opinions are too afraid to speak,” she said. “Many students find themselves suppressing their beliefs to fit into the acceptable groupthink.”