- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2019

House Budget Committee chairman John Yarmuth has retracted his call for a ban on Make America Great Again hats, saying he was joking, following a widely reported incident between MAGA-capped teens and a Native American elder.

The Kentucky Democrat created a stir when he tweeted Sunday, “I am calling for a total and complete shutdown of teenagers wearing MAGA hats until we can figure out what is going on. They seem to be poisoning young minds.”

After a torrent of criticism on social media, he followed by saying President Trump’s “fans seem to be more upset by my (obvious) joke about banning hats than they were when the President said literally the same thing about banning actual human beings. Go figure.”

The tweets came after he blamed Mr. Trump for Friday’s confrontation between Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder, and teenage boys from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, at the Lincoln Memorial.

The teens have been accused of harassing Mr. Phillips during a sacred ceremony, but video clips posted Sunday show the Omaha tribal elder and several other adults walked toward the boys as they were performing a school cheer while waiting for a bus.

Mr. Yarmuth blasted the teenagers’ conduct as “beyond appalling, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum.”

“This is a direct result of the racist hatred displayed daily by the President of the United States who, sadly, some mistake for a role model,” he tweeted Sunday.

One teen, Nick Sandmann, is shown staring at Mr. Phillips while other boys clapped and cheered in the background, but Mr. Sandmann has since issued a statement saying he was trying to defuse the situation after being approached by Mr. Phillips.

“The protestor everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path,” said Mr. Sandmann’s statement. “He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.”

Mr. Phillips also accused the boys, some of whom wore red MAGA hats, of chanting “build the wall,” although videos posted so far have not shown that. At least one video shows an adult in the crowd shouting, “White people, go back to Europe. This is not your land!”

The boys were in town Friday for the 46th annual March for Life, while Mr. Phillips was attending the Indigenous Peoples March. The events were held the same day in Washington, D.C.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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