Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Monday joined right-wing criticism of Alyssa Milano after the actress tweeted that “Make America Great Again” hats are analogous to the white hoods worn by members of the KKK.
Not so, said Palin, pointing to her children, who are of indigenous descent. She also singled out her youngest son, Trig, who has Down syndrome.
“Alyssa, did you not know white hoods represented hatred for minorities and ‘handicapped’ children and adults whom the hooded KKK and white supremacists deemed unworthy of life?” Palin, 54, wrote along with two photos of her with Trig.
She continued, “So… from your warped Hollywood perch are you including MAGA-wearing moms of Native American kids (like mine) AND ‘different’ children (like mine) in your intolerant, prejudiced, gag-inducing rhetoric?” (Palin’s husband has said he is an Alaska Native on his grandmother’s side, according to the New York Times.)
Milano, 46, originally tweeted on Sunday: “The red MAGA hat is the new white hood. Without white boys being able to empathize with other people, humanity will continue to destroy itself.”
Her message drew quick ire on social media from Trump fans. In a characteristic response, one user replied: “Who told you that? Fake news CNN?”
Milano was referring to an altercation on Friday in Washington, D.C., which went viral online, between a group of teenage boys wearing “MAGA” hats and Native American activists. Initial clips from the conflict appeared to show the group of boys surrounding and harassing Nathan Phillips, a Marine veteran and elder in the Omaha tribe. The group, from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky in D.C. for the anti-abortion March for Life rally, was swiftly condemned.
Longer footage from that day shows that Phillips intervened between the students and a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites who had been yelling obscenities at them and criticizing them for their pro-Trump attire.
Phillips played a drum and chanted what he called a peaceful prayer, to diffuse the situation, as he walked toward the group, ultimately being surrounded by the boys.
According to video of the incident, a student later identified Nick Sandmann, stood directly in front of Phillips as the older man played, with a smirk on his face. Sandmann did not move.
In a statement, Sandmann defended himself and his group’s actions, claiming Phillips was the aggressor.
“He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face,” he said.
“I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves,” Sandmann said. “To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me.”
After the altercation went viral over the weekend, additional video quickly muddied the discussion as many observers began to argue about what, in fact, they had witnessed.
Meanwhile some of those who were outraged by what they saw argued the boys’ behavior — including allegations they chanted “build a wall” and did a mocking tomahawk chop — was a side-effect of the Trump administration’s racial prejudice.
For his part, Phillips told PEOPLE, “I was standing there as a peacekeeper. I was afraid for my people also, the indigenous people.”
“I sang that song for my country, for my children, for all of our children,” he said. “They were acting not only as an angry, ugly mob but foolish. … I wanted to go there and stand between these two groups who are trying to tear my country apart.”