It was heating up to be an intersectional showdown for the ages, with the Black Hebrew Israelites going head to head with the Native Americans. But when the Native woman talks about the importance of peace, the preacher finally locates a unifying theme, one more powerful than anything to be found in Proverbs, Isaiah, or Ecclesiastes.
He tells her there won’t be any food stamps coming to reservations or the projects because of the shutdown, and then gesturing to his left, he says, “It’s because of these … bastards over there, wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.”
The camera turns to capture five white teenage boys, one of whom is wearing a MAGA hat. They are standing at a respectful distance, with their hands in their pockets, listening to this exchange with expressions of curiosity. They are there to meet their bus home.
Conor Friedersdorf: This is how the left destroys itself
“Why you not angry at them?” the Black Hebrew Israelite asks the Native American woman angrily.
“That’s right,” says one of his coreligionists, “little corny-ass Billy Bob.”
The boys don’t respond to this provocation, although one of them smiles at being called a corny-ass Billy Bob. They seem interested in what is going on, in the way that it’s interesting to listen to Hyde Park speakers.
The Native woman isn’t interested in attacking the white boys. She keeps up her argument with the Black Hebrew Israelites, and her line of reasoning is so powerful that it throws the preacher off track.
“She trying to be distracting,” one of the men says. “She trying to stop the flow.”
“You’re out of order,” the preacher tells the woman. “Where’s your husband? Let me speak to him.”
By now the gathering of Covington Catholic boys watching the scene has grown to 10 or 12, some of them in MAGA hats. They are about 15 feet away, and while the conflict is surely beyond their range of experience, it also includes biblical explication, something with which they are familiar.
“Don’t stand to the side and mock,” the speaker orders the boys, who do not appear to be mocking him. “Bring y’all cracker ass up here and make a statement.” The boys turn away and begin walking back to the larger group.
“You little dirty-ass crackers. Your day coming. Your day coming … ’cause your little dusty asses wouldn’t walk down a street in a black neighborhood, and go walk up on nobody playing no games like that,” he calls after them, but they take no notice. “Yeah, ’cause I will stick my foot in your little ass.”
By now the Native American ceremony has begun, and the attendees have linked arms and begun dancing. “They just don’t know who they are,” one of the Black Hebrew Israelites says remorsefully to another. Earlier he had called them “Uncle Tomahawks.”
The boys have given up on him. They have joined the larger group, and together they all begin doing some school-spirit cheers; they hum the stadium-staple opening bars of “Seven Nation Army” and jump up and down, dancing to it. Later they would say that their chaperones had allowed them to sing school-spirit songs instead of engaging with the slurs hurled by the Black Hebrew Israelites.