ACLU staffer slams Transylvania University for accepting ‘provocateur in training’ Nicholas Sandmann
An American Civil Liberties Union staffer criticized a university in Kentucky for admitting Nicholas Sandmann, the 17-year-old high school student who was filmed standing opposite a Native American man at the Lincoln Memorial last year as a ‘provocateur in training.’
Samuel Crankshaw, an ACLU communications associate and an alumnus of Transylvania University in Lexington, wrote a Facebook post on Saturday questioning the college’s decision to accept Nicholas Sandmann.
Sandmann is the Covington Catholic High School student who became a hero among conservative-leaning sympathizers after he was criticized on social media the social media video involving Native American activist Nathan Phillips.
Video of the January 2019 encounter showed Sandmann and Phillips standing very close to each other, with Sandmann staring, and at times smiling, as Phillips sang and pounded on a drum.
Nicholas Sandmann’s (left) acceptance to Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, was criticized by Samuel Crankshaw (right), a communications associate for the American Civil Liberties Union
‘I think TU should accept anyone willing to have an open mind and engage in debate, regardless of their views,’ Crankshaw wrote on his Facebook page. ‘That’s how we all learn. That’s Transy’s mission. But this kid clearly is a provocateur in training with no intention of learning. He exists only to troll, intimidate and play victim’
Transylvania University is a liberal arts college located in Lexington, Kentucky (above)
Both Sandmann, who was wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ cap, and Phillips later said they were trying to defuse tensions among three separate groups participating in various demonstrations, including Black Hebrew Israelites who had arrived apparently to counter-protest the Native Americans.
Sandmann appeared in last month’s Republican National Convention, where he told the nation that he believes news outlets were driven by ‘anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-Donald Trump’ bias in reporting on the incident because he was wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat.
The ACLU has long prided itself on advocating for the constitutional rights of Americans regardless of political affiliation, though during the Trump era it has been accused of using its clout to favor liberal causes.
In 1978, the ACLU famously defended the rights of neo-Nazis seeking to march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois, a town with a large population of Holocaust survivors.
‘These were personal views expressed on personal time on a personal Facebook account,’ Amber Duke, the deputy director of the ACLU offices in Kentucky, told DailyMail.com.
‘The views in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the ACLU of Kentucky.
‘As a stalwart defender of the First Amendment, the ACLU of Kentucky respects its employees’ freedom to express themselves on their own time.’
DailyMail.com has sought comment from Sandmann and his attorney, Lin Wood.
‘Does anyone else think it’s a bit of a stain on Transylvania University for accepting Nick Sandman?’ Crankshaw wrote.
‘I’m sure it’s a “both sides” defense, but it’s pretty counter to their mission and another instance of there not actually being equal sides to an issue.
‘I think TU should accept anyone willing to have an open mind and engage in debate, regardless of their views.
‘That’s how we all learn. That’s Transy’s mission.’
Crankshaw added: ‘But this kid clearly is a provocateur in training with no intention of learning.
‘He exists only to troll, intimidate and play victim.’
Sandmann, 17, put on his ‘Make America Great Again’ hat while speaking during the second night of the Republican Convention on August 25
Sandmann went viral after a video showed him in a confrontation with Native American activist Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in January 2019
Both Sandmann, who was wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ cap, and Phillips (seen above in 2017) later said they were trying to defuse tensions among three separate groups participating in various demonstrations, including Black Hebrew Israelites who had arrived apparently to counter-protest the Native Americans
He said media attempted to ‘cancel’ him because he was wearing a ‘MAGA’ hat. ‘My life changed forever in that one moment. The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode,’ Sandmann said
Sandmann reached financial settlements with CNN and The Washington Post, who he sued for defamation.
The amount was nearly disclosed due to a quirk in court rules, but will now remain confidential after the pandemic delayed scheduled hearings until after his 18th birthday.
Sandmann has also sued the three major television networks – NBC, ABC, and CBS – as well as Rolling Stone magazine, Gannett, and The New York Times.
Earlier this year, Sandmann appeared to hint that Twitter would also be sued, tweeting: ‘Don’t hold your breath @jack.’
The tweet was directed at Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO.
The comments by Crankshaw were first reported by Jonathan Turley, the conservative constitutional law professor at George Washington University.
Crankshaw told The National Review: ‘The views I expressed on my Facebook page are my personal views that I shared on my personal time.
‘I have a First Amendment right to express them just as Nick Sandmann has a First Amendment right to express his.’
READ NICK SANDMANN’S FULL SPEECH TO THE RNC
Good evening everyone. My name is Nick Sandmann. I’m the teenager who was defamed by the media after an encounter with a group of protestors on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last year.
Before I begin, I’d like to thank President Trump for the opportunity to share some of my story and why it matters so much to this November’s election.
In January 2019, I attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. where I demonstrated in defense of the unborn. Later that day, I bought a “Make America Great Again” hat because our President, Donald Trump, has distinguished himself as the most pro-life Presidents in the history of our country and I wanted to express my support for him too. Looking back now, how could I possibly have imagined that the simple act of putting on that red hat would unleash the hate from the left and make myself the target of network and cable news networks, nationwide?
Being from Kentucky, the birth place of Abraham Lincoln, my classmates and I visited the Lincoln Memorial. I found myself face-to-face with Nathan Phillips and other professional protestors looking to turn me into the latest poster child showing why Trump is bad. While the media portrayed me as the aggressor with a “relentless smirk” on my face, in reality the video confirms I was standing with my hands behind my back and an awkward smile on my face that hid two thoughts. One, don’t do anything that might further agitate the man banging a drum in my face and two, trying to follow a family friend’s advice never to do anything to embarrass your family, your school, or your community.
Before I knew what was happening, it was over. One of Mr. Phillips fellow agitators yelled out “We got him!”, “It’s all right here on video” and We won Grandpa”. What I thought was a strange encounter, quickly developed into a major news story complete with video footage.
My life changed forever in that one moment. The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode. They did so without ever researching the full video of the incident; without ever investigating Mr. Philips’ motives; or without ever asking me for my side of the story. And do you know why? Because the truth wasn’t important. Advancing their anti-Christian, anti-Conservative, anti-Donald Trump narrative was all that mattered. And if advancing their narrative ruined the reputation and future of a teenager from Covington, Kentucky…so be it. That will teach him not to wear a MAGA hat!
I learned that what was happening to me had a name. It was called being cancelled. As in annulled. As in revoked. As in made void.
Cancelled is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by the far left. Many are being fired, humiliated or even threatened. Often, the media is a willing participant.
But I wouldn’t be cancelled. I fought back hard to expose the media for what they did to me and won a personal victory. While much more must be done, I look forward to the day that the media returns to providing balanced, responsible and accountable news coverage.
I know President Trump hopes for that too. I’m proud to say that throughout my media nightmare I have had President Trump’s unwavering support. And I know you’ll agree with me when I say no one in this county has been a victim of unfair media coverage more than President Donald Trump.
In November, I believe this country must unite around a President who calls the media out and refuses to allow them to create a narrative instead of reporting the facts.
I believe we must join with a President who will challenge the media to return to objective journalism.
And together, I believe we must all embrace our 1st Amendment rights and not hide in fear of the media, or from the tech companies or the outrage mob either.
This is worth fighting for. This is worth voting for. This is what President Donald Trump stands for.
Thank you all for listening to me tonight. And one more thing… let’s Make America Great Again!
In a blog post, Turley wrote that an assistant professor and diversity scholar at Transylvania, Dr. Avery Tompkins, responded to Crankshaw by pledging to closely monitor Sandmann on campus.
‘If he were to cause problems by being disruptive, trolling, or engaging in unethical behavior of any kind, I would immediately document it (just like I would for any student doing the same thing)…and he would just be putting himself in a position for me to file a conduct report,’ Tompkins wrote.
Tompkins later apologized, saying in a statement: ‘I want to apologize for my mistake in singling out a student and any misunderstandings that arose from that.
‘One of my favorite things about working at a liberal arts institution is that the University community has diverse perspectives.
‘All students, faculty, and staff are able to engage in civil discourse with those whose views may be different from their own, and to learn about those views in an academic setting.
‘I value and support these conversations with students, and I know that students value these conversations with their peers as well.’
Turley wrote that the posts by Crankshaw and Tompkins were disturbing given the ACLU’s mission in protecting free speech rights of all Americans.
‘Sandmann like all college students should feel greater freedom in expressing their views at colleges, not being closely monitored as someone with dangerous thoughts and ideas,’ according to Turley.
‘That fact that figures in the ACLU and academia would publicly espouse such views of intolerance is a chilling example of how our faith in free speech has eroded in the recent years.’
Sandmann, who was recently hired to help Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election effort in Kentucky, spoke about the controversial Lincoln Memorial encounter at the Republican National Convention last month.
‘My life changed forever in that one moment. The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode,’ Sandmann claimed during his nationally televised speech on August 25.
‘They did so without ever researching the full video of the incident; without ever investigating Mr. Philips’ motives; or without ever asking me for my side of the story. And do you know why? Because the truth wasn’t important.’
‘I learned that what was happening to me had a name. It was called being canceled,’ he continued. ‘Canceled is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by the far left. Many are being fired, humiliated or even threatened. Often, the media is a willing participant.’
Sandmann insisted: ‘But I wouldn’t be cancelled. I fought back hard to expose the media for what they did to me and won a personal victory.’
‘While much more must be done, I look forward to the day that the media returns to providing balanced, responsible and accountable news coverage. I know President Trump hopes for that too,’ Sandmann concluded his remarks.
He also claimed Trump is the biggest ‘victim of unfair media coverage.’
Sandmann told the convention that he bought the ‘MAGA’ hat while he was in Washington, DC, on a school trip to participate in the pro-life March for Life annual protest through the capital.
‘In January 2019, I attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. where I demonstrated in defense of the unborn,’ Sandmann detailed during his pre-recorded speech.
‘Later that day, I bought a “Make America Great Again” hat because our president, Donald Trump, has distinguished himself as the most pro-life Presidents in the history of our country and I wanted to express my support for him too.’
During the trip, Sandmann went viral after Phillips went up to the student wearing his new red ‘MAGA’ hat, and pounded on a drum a few inches from his face.
The teenager was excoriated in the media for a smirk he had during the confrontation.
Sandmann explained in August that the ‘awkward smile’ was an attempt to hide his thoughts and avoid embarrassing himself or further instigating Phillips.
Sandmann reached a confidential settlement with CNN in January, after suing the network for $275million and saying it defamed him in coverage of a viral video last year.
The settlement amount was nearly disclosed through a Kenton County, Kentucky probate case because, at the time, Sandmann was a minor and couldn’t claim the money directly, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Due to court delays in the coronavirus pandemic, Sandmann recently turned 18 and, no longer a minor, was able to claim the money himself, according to court documents.