Videos: Longer D.C. video may offer new perspective

Well, they got us. The folks who spread a very short and narrowly framed video of an incident last week in Washington, D.C. — perhaps hoping the ends justified the means — got the reaction for which they were hoping … for a little while anyway.

Now, as more information and a wider perspective becomes available, it turns out they may have done more harm than good. It is certain a lot of unfair assumptions were made when it seemed so evident there were clear bad guys and good guys as three groups converged on the mall — one representing a Catholic high school in Kentucky in town for the March for Life, one representing Native Americans participating in the Indigenous Peoples March, and one calling itself the Black Hebrew Israelites.

Covington Catholic High School junior Nick Sandmann comes across as far less the villain upon a viewing of the full incident. He was justified in saying “I would caution everyone passing judgment based on a few seconds of video to watch the longer video clips that are on the internet, as they show a much different story …”

Native American Activist Nathan Phillips comes across as far less the hero, and looks a little more like someone preparing to cry wolf than someone delivering a chant of healing. And the Black Hebrew Israelites, well, far from being victims, it turns out, as the Associated Press reported, they were “taunting everyone on the mall that day, calling the Native Americans … ‘Uncle Tomahawks’ and ‘$5 Indians,’ and the high school students ‘crackers’ and worse.”

Everyone involved could have behaved better — or at least differently. Framing the situation as it was during the short, closely cropped video that was spread so quickly at first did NOTHING to advance healing or encourage those from varying demographics to listen to one another rather than going on the defensive.

Thank goodness we got to see more. Thank goodness we have a chance now to take another look and have a more honest conversation about the deep divisions that exist in this country. Perhaps it will serve as a reminder to us all of how complex the healing of those rifts will be.