I’m going to have trouble believing you if you say you didn’t rush to judgement based on preconceived notions — one way or another — when you saw it. I’ll own it. I did. I saw a smug young man. After all, I knew that face. I was that smug young activist a few years back.
And that’s where I go in this “who to blame” argument. I blame all of them. Anyone who has ever been in a flashpoint situation like that would likely say the same. Tensions and emotions are running high. Adrenaline is flowing. Things are being said and done without thought.
The Washington Post in its reporting said “a group of half a dozen Hebrew Israelites had, in fact, been goading and preaching at both the Native Americans and high schoolers, using profanity and highly provocative language, for nearly an hour.”
Really? At kids? And where were the chaperones? Why weren’t these kids removed from that situation? And what was the reasoning behind stepping in between? We’ve been all over the field on that one.
The most reasonable explanation for all is “the fog of war.” What happened was ugly. It escalated quickly. It was unfortunate. It was not unique. A good many wrong decisions were made, and no one comes out of it smelling like roses.
Our attempts to vilify one group and deify another — based either on politics, religion or skin color — are an unseemly search for validation of our own personal beliefs. We need to be better than that.