Nicholas Sandmann, the young man who was at the center of a viral video last year, delivered a recorded speech about how he fought back against the media vilification and ridicule he faced after he was confronted by a Native American for wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat.
"Donald Trump has distinguished himself as one of the most pro-life presidents in the history of our country. I wanted to express my support for him too. Looking back now, how could I possibly imagine that the simple act of putting on that red hat would unleash hate from the left and make myself the target of network and cable news networks nationwide. Being from Kentucky, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, my classmates and I visited the Lincoln memorial."
Sandmann was a junior in high school, visiting Washington, D.C., on a field trip in 2019 with his classmates from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. After he put on his MAGA hat while standing near the Lincoln Memorial, a Native American man named Nathan Phillips walked over to him while banging a drum. Sandmann, who was 16-years-old at the time, stood tall as Phillips walked closer and banged louder. As the two stood inches apart, Sandmann smirked.
"The video confirms I was standing with my hands behind my back and an awkward smile on my face. I had two thoughts: Don't do anything that may further agitate the man banging a drum in my face," Sandmann said. "And I was trying to follow a family friend's advice never to do anything bad to embarrass your family, your school or your community."
Sandmann continued, "Before I knew what was happening, it was over. One of Mr. Phillips' fellow agitators yelled out, 'We got him, it's all right here on video, we won, grandma.' It quickly developed into a major news story, complete with video footage. My life changed forever in that one moment."
In the days that followed, scorn poured down on Sandmann for smirking in the man's face, with some members of the media even joining in.
"The machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode. They do so without researching the full video of the incident, without ever investigating Mr. Phillips' motives or without ever asking me for my side of the story. And do you know why? Because the truth was not important. Advancing their anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-Donald Trump narrative was all that mattered. If advancing their narrative ruined the reputation of a teenager from Kentucky, so be it," Sandmann said.
Sandmann later sued both CNN and The Washington Post, two suits he later settled earlier this year.
"I learned what was happening to me had a name. It was called being canceled. ... Canceled 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. And often the media is a willing participant," Sandmann said.
Sandmann added, "I would not be canceled. I fought back hard to expose the media for what they did to me, and I won a personal victory."
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