Anyone who has read or watched the news in the past 10 days knows about the Lincoln Memorial Face Off.
For those who may not know, this is what went down…
There were three parties involved: a group of Black Israelites, a group of high school students and a Native American elder. The first video to go viral showed what seemed to be the group of Covington Catholic high schoolers wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, taunting and mocking the Native American man as he performed a song about “strength and courage.”
Later, a second video was released providing evidence that the group of Black Israelites were the ones who provoked the confrontation.
Viewers and readers are having difficulty processing this encounter because they do not know which party is to blame; however, the problem is rooted much deeper than the three parties involved.
Looking at the Covington students specifically, people think that they are to blame, when, in actuality, the way in which the students were socialized is the main culprit.
In the grand scheme of things, it is not important who is to blame for such confrontation; what truly matters is the example that is set by this kind of public behavior.
The boy in the MAGA hat standing in front of the Native American man serves as a symbol for the way that children and teenagers are being socialized in today’s world. If it is true that socialization is an ongoing process of learning, then I ask: what kind of values has our current presidential administration taught to the kid in the MAGA hat, assuming that his hat is a testament to what he believes? Because politics are considered to be more of an ‘adult topic,’ it is often and easily forgotten that children are being influenced by what they see and hear in the news as well.
After all, Trump is known to have a relatively dicey relationship with Native Americans. He has openly mocked Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat senator, who claims to have Native American heritage. Trump referred to Warren as “Pocahontas” multiple times while also diminishing her accomplishments as Senator.
When linking instances such as this one with Trump’s widely known campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” it can be inferred that he does not wish to include Native Americans in his scheme to achieve that. Even more so, he is intolerant of Native Americans and fails to recognize their historical importance.
This intolerance is being carried into the adolescent minds of school children all across the country, and only now have the consequences of such bigotry been brought to light.
The president’s responsibility is to serve the American people. In this instance, not only has he failed the Native American man, but also the high school students involved.
Part of being president is setting an example of how American people should behave and treat each other. The minds of young people in high school are especially impressionable, as high school is a time that many people start to develop political beliefs and become more aware of their political surroundings.
Thus, people as influential as President Trump need to be considerate of the impression that they are leaving on young people, as influential people’s actions are often emulated by those watching.
The standoff at the Lincoln Memorial is a testimony to our shortcomings as a society in educating the malleable minds of young people in our country. Those holding governmental power, especially the president, must be cautious and calculated in how they carry themselves.
As Trump projects his bigoted views, the political trench of polarization only grows wider. Not only does this behavior maintain existing divisiveness, but it also sets the tone for the way future generations will conduct themselves, as illustrated by the boy wearing the MAGA hat.
Part of our future relies on the way in which public officials conduct themselves, as people act based on what they see. Do you like what you see?
Contact CU Independent Assistant Opinion Editor Libby O’Neall at firstname.lastname@example.org.