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Washington D.C.

A video of a high school student wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat standing opposite a Native American man on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial went viral this past weekend, quickly creating a social media firestorm. 

The initial 3 minute, 45 second-clip posted by YouTube user KC Noland has received more than 4.5 million views since it was first posted Jan. 18. It spurred hundreds of thousands of individuals to criticize the teen — and his fellow students for being disrespectful and insulting to elders —  going as far as to call for the boys’ expulsion from the Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky while others sent death threats against the pictured student. In response, thousands then rallied back to the teens’ defense, saying they were unfairly judged and the Native American drummer instigating the confrontation. 

We have to question: How many people thought to stop, pause and reflect on the complex situation before passing personal judgment as to who was in the right and who was wronged? 

The all-boys catholic school students had traveled to Washington, D.C. that morning to take part in the anti-abortion March for Life rally at the National Mall. The students said they were told to assemble at the Lincoln Memorial by 5:30 p.m. to await their bus home. 

Native American Nathan Phillips, of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, is a Vietnam veteran who was attending the Indigenous People’s March simultaneously scheduled to take place at the Lincoln Memorial from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

The first video featured Phillips with a handful of other men playing a steady drumbeat to the American Indian Movement song — or AIM song — which has been described as song uniting  people with a common cause and reminder to remain calm.

A longer 1 hour, 45 minute-video of the incident later posted to YouTube filmed from another angle brought more light to the situation. It showed a third group consisting of four men who were standing at the base of the stairway to the Lincoln Monument, and were preaching about the Bible while making insulting and derogatory remarks to both the Native American protestors and the students. 

It was when the three groups interacted. Phillips and several other Native American drummers crossed the gap between the students and men that the first incident occurred. Each group was there for a different purpose, from different backgrounds and were of differing races, all coming together in one spot to protest different issues. 

It’s not lost on us that occurred a few feet from the same spot Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Among the less famous lines in King’s speech include, “We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence.” 

At a time when political and racial tensions seem to be rising, we ask anyone who sees a photo, short video clip or quick quote and has the instant urge to react to stop. Take a step back. Evaluate the situation. Consider the context and how people’s different backgrounds may affect how they discern what happened. 

The answer to who was in the right and who was wronged may not be black and white. Rather, there’s a complex kaleidoscope of facts and perspectives that need to be fully considered. Let us not be so quick to find fault. 

Participants in MLB’s Home Run Derby listen to the national anthem. Photo by Daniel Dunaief

It’s all about family.

Sure, there was plenty of high-powered baseball last week when I had the privilege of attending my first Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., July 17, with my son, but, ultimately, it’s clear between and outside the lines that the players fill their energy reserves with the support of their families.

Los Angeles Dodger Manny Machado signs autographs. Photo by Daniel Dunaief

After our first trip to FanFest — a gathering of dedicated baseball aficionados — we wandered over to a nearby burger joint where a man named Frank suggested we go to the Marriott across the street because that was where all the players were staying. We wolfed down the last of our burgers and found a lobby filled with kids of all ages — including adults who enjoy sharing the excitement of the game with their own children — waiting for a glimpse of their favorite stars.

Within a half-hour of our arrival, superstars wandered in the front lobby, where they had about a 50-foot walk between a huge revolving door and a private, security-protected hallway opposite a sign forbidding pictures or autographs.

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, whose muscular 6-foot, 5-inch frame made him appear to be the picture of a professional athlete, carried his young daughter in one arm and luggage in another, making it impossible for autograph seekers to ask him to sign their baseballs, programs or notebooks.

Other athletes followed the same pattern, carrying their young children or holding their hands, making it impossible for fans to demand a signature or even to interrupt their family moments.

On the other side of the spotlight, many of the eager fans weren’t too far from their parents, who urged them on and wished them well.

“Who’d you get?” one fan asked her son as he raced back to her, holding a ball carefully by the seams to avoid smudging the valuable ink. “Manny Machado!” he beamed, referring to the former Orioles superstar who the Los Angeles Dodgers would soon trade five players to acquire a day later.

“Good for you,” she clapped and cheered, pleased with her son’s success.

Cameras follow Yankee star Aaron Judge’s every move. Photo by Daniel Dunaief

On another trip to FanFest, I watched parents clad entirely in the ubiquitous red uniform of the Washington Nationals. A father with an open jersey flapping at his sides led his two small children, whose jerseys were buttoned up to their clavicles, across the enormous space toward the Major League Baseball store.

At the Home Run Derby July 16, the event that precedes the game in which a few sluggers essentially see how far they can hit baseballs, Washington fan favorite Bryce Harper didn’t disappoint the rabid Nationals fans, beating a determined and electrifying Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs. After his victory, Harper thanked the fans and his pitcher who, as it turned out, was his father Ron.

At the game itself, we were fortunate to sit fairly near the families of the American League all-stars. Patty and Wayne Judge, parents of burgeoning Yankee-great Aaron Judge, watched their 26-year-old son’s every move, filming him during his introduction and cheering as he circled the bases after his home run against starting pitcher Max Scherzer of the Nationals. Many in the Judge entourage, like those from other families, proudly wore jerseys with the names and number of their all-star on their backs.

Rays’ pitcher Blake Snell’s family filled up almost an entire row of seats, with his name and his number “4” draped across their backs.

When Detroit Tigers pitcher Joe Jiménez entered the game from the bullpen, his family stood proudly, with each of them filming the jog from the left field fence.

Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor electrified his family with a hit that almost made it out of the stadium on a record-setting night for home runs. As he jogged back to the dugout to get his glove, his family stood and applauded his effort, as his broad, patented smile crossed his face.

Yankee pitchers Aroldis Chapman and Luis Severino play catch. Photo by Daniel Dunaief

In the top of the eighth, Lindor’s replacement at shortstop, the Mariners’ Jean Segura crushed a three-run homer, triggering a big celebration from his extended family, who high-fived each other and who received congratulations from the nearby Lindor family.

Segura was an unexpected hero, who was the last player named to join the American League team, beating out Yankee Giancarlo Stanton, among others.

Yes, we witnessed all-stars with the ability to hit balls over 400 feet. Ultimately, though, we had the chance to see families share a weekend that mirrored similar scenes around the world, albeit on a smaller scale. Watching all these families come together to celebrate their baseball achievements made me feel like I was at a high-profile Little League game. Parents, siblings and friends stand on the sidelines, supporting their sons, daughters, brothers and sisters as they revel in the opportunity of the next at-bat.

The result? The American League triumphed over the National League, 8-6, in the 10th inning of an unforgettable all-star game.

I’m going to start with a headline relationship that would make Niccolò Machiavelli proud and work my way toward life on Main Street. You remember Machiavelli? That’s the author who wrote “The Prince,” which was first published way back in 1532, about how to manipulate people to survive and use any means available.

Wait, please don’t go. There won’t be a test and that’s the last date I’ll put in this column. Promise.

So, I’m thinking about relationships because of the new and improved dynamic between President Donald Trump and his Best Friend for Now — BFN, anyone? — Sen. Mitch McConnell. After a few tough losses, the Republican leaders seemed testy in their exchanges.

No, no, they said earlier this week, that wasn’t so. They are buddies and they agree on everything. Well, almost everything. According to sources, the senior senator also wants two scoops of ice cream when he visits the White House, but the commander in chief has no intention of changing his ice cream policies, even for his BFN.

Anyway, what brought these two older white men together? Did they talk about what it’s like to be misunderstood? Were they eager to find a friend in Washington, D.C., and did neither of them want to get a dog, as the expression goes?

No, they came together because they need to. It’s so much easier, they decided, to agree and to work together than to disagree. That sounds reasonable, but what would Machiavelli think? I suspect he’d be thrilled. After all, it’s about surviving, learning to fight another day and moving the chess pieces of life around on the board. Fortunately, and I won’t put the date in here because I don’t want to break my promise, chess was invented before “The Prince” was published. If you want to find it, you can look it up on the internet, which is the source of all information and misinformation in the universe. So, Machiavelli would have known about chess and the need to sacrifice the short-term humiliation of needing anyone and the mutually assured long-term gain of having allies in Washington.

OK, so let’s step away from the seat of our democracy and go out into the real world. Why do the rest of us need relationships and what can they do for us?

Are we like ants and bees, who need each other for specialized jobs?

Yes and no. Certainly, I would have a hard time building my own house. I feel as if I have an incompetence allergy to the words “some assembly required.” I am also visual-arts deficient. People offer all kinds of false modesty, saying things like, “I used to ski a little” or “I used to do a bit of singing,” when they almost made the Olympic team and were a few auditions short of starring next to Julie Andrews on Broadway. I, however, am not being modest. If I were responsible for building walls and decorating them, we’d be living in caves and would be staring at uninspiring chalk drawings of woolly mammoths.

So, yes, our individual deficiencies suggest we do need each other. But, maybe, we benefit not just what we get from others.

One of my good friends is in a new relationship. He has always been in decent physical shape. He’s not much of a reader and has shied away from even the shortest of reading assignments. Anyway, he’s dating a woman who is a regular runner and an avid reader. Lo and behold, he recently beamed after completing a half marathon and is happily building his own personal library.

Maybe the best and longest lasting relationships are those that push us to find the best in ourselves. It’s not exactly Machiavelli 101 and it doesn’t require a press conference, but maybe the right relationships are those that help us develop in unexpected ways.

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The Word Play Masters Invitational is based on the Washington Post’s Style Invitational column, in which readers are invited to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Past winners include:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an a–hole.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

5. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

9. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

10. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s, like, a serious bummer.

11. Decafalon (n): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

12. Glibido: All talk and no action.

13. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

14. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

15. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at 3 a.m. and cannot be cast out.

16. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.

The winners of another competition seeking alternative meanings for common words are:

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

6. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Washington, D.C., trip ties pieces of nation’s past to North Shore, including famed Culper Spy Ring

A panda enjoys bamboo at the National Zoo. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

What do spy codes, a Setauket officer’s saber, cherry blossoms, pandas and a postal museum have in common?

This past weekend my family, including eight grandchildren, traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit our nation’s capital together and discover new things. The trip began with a visit to the National Cryptologic Museum about 30 minutes north of Washington.

Here, the story of the secret world of intelligence is detailed with interactive displays and cipher technology from the 16th century to today. One section details the activity of spies during the Revolutionary War, especially General Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, and allows visitors, especially children, to “Create Your Own Secret Cipher,” “Hidden Message,” “Invisible Ink Secrets” and “Make a Secret Code with a Dictionary.”

There is also a “CrypoKids Challenge,” with messages to decode throughout the museum. There is, of course, much more to see here, including captured German and Japanese code machines.

Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. Photo from Beverly Tyler
Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. Photo from Beverly Tyler

The recently renovated Smithsonian National History Museum along the National Mall includes the exhibit “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.”

Covering the period from the French and Indian War to the present, “exploring ways in which wars have been defining episodes in American history,” the exhibit includes a stunning array of artifacts, including a dragoon saber belonging to our own Major Benjamin Tallmadge, General Washington’s chief of intelligence and son of the Setauket Presbyterian Church minister.

A late spring provided an April 11 blooming for the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin at the Jefferson Memorial. More than one million people attended the cherry blossom festival in Washington, D.C., however we all went to the National Zoo to watch the pandas play and eat bamboo. A great choice considering the crowds and we did get wonderful pictures of the blossoms the day before.

We spent one morning at the National Postal Museum across the street from Union Station. This may be the best museum in D.C.; it is definitely the most interactive Smithsonian museum.

Visitors can sort mail in a postal train car, ride in a postal truck, select routes to deliver mail across the country and follow a new mail route from New York City to Boston in the 17th century, which became the Boston Post Road decades later. Other activities include letters written home during the many wars and conflicts of the past three centuries and the opportunity to follow these letters as they travel from place to place.

In one simulation of a post office, people come up to the postal window and interact with the clerk. One young girl came up to the window and asked that the Christmas list she was carrying be sent to Santa at the South Pole.

The clerk responded that Santa was actually at the North Pole. The young girl said, “Oh, that’s all right, this is my brother’s list.”

There are many other wonderful stories in the postal museum, including poignant letters written home during the Civil War. There are also real stories about mail fraud, letter bombs and how the security system of the United States Post Office Department dealt with crime.

And not to ignore the Hollywood approach, there are stories about all the movies made about every postal subject from the Pony Express to prohibition.

All in all, it was an experience for visitors of all ages.

In four days, we also visited the Natural History Museum, the Air and Space Museum, and walked around the Washington monument and Lincoln Memorial. All the Smithsonian museums belong to all Americans and admission is free.

Beverly Tyler is the Three Village Historical Society historian.

Jack Muise, 14, is a national Tourette Syndrome Association youth ambassador. Photo from Jack Muise

A Northport teen will be standing on the steps of Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., this month to speak with lawmakers about Tourette’s syndrome.

Jack Muise, 14, is a national Tourette Syndrome Association youth ambassador. Photo from Jack Muise
Jack Muise, 14, is a national Tourette Syndrome Association youth ambassador. Photo from Jack Muise

Jack Muise, 14, is a ninth-grader at Northport High School. At the age of 10, Jack was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Sponsored through the national Tourette Syndrome Association, Jack was selected as a youth ambassador — a title that will give him the opportunity to attend a two-day training in Arlington, Va., with 39 other 13- to 17-year-olds, from March 23 to 25, to learn how to educate peers about the disorder.

Jack, who says he is very excited about the training, learned about the program through his Tourette’s syndrome support group, which generally meets once a month from September through June in Old Brookville in Nassau County.

The youth ambassador program originated from Jack’s own support group — the national group’s Long Island chapter. Jennifer Zwilling, now 24, who also has Tourette’s syndrome, started the training program in 2008.

“The goal of this exciting program is to educate children all over the country about TS, a widely misunderstood disorder,” Zwilling said in a press release. “We are following the motto ‘think globally, act locally.’ Understanding and tolerance are the program’s goals.”

Since 2008, the youth ambassador program has completed more than 1,000 activities, including presentations, interviews and training sessions and, through its combined efforts, has reached over 5.5 million people.

Following the training, all of the youth ambassadors, Jack included, will meet with their respective local representatives on the steps of Capitol Hill on March 25.

Jack will be meeting with U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), New York’s 3rd Congressional District representative, to advocate for support for the neurological disorder, he said.

“I think people don’t understand, for me personally, it’s when I say inappropriate things that I can’t control and people think I’m weird,” Jack said. “I just want to be able to explain what it is and make them aware and hopefully make them better people in general.”

After returning to Long Island, Jack, along with the three other Long Island youth ambassadors, will visit schools throughout Nassau and Suffolk County to educate children about the disorder.

Jack, who joined his support group three years ago, said that prior to joining, he never really knew or understood what the disorder was.

“Jack’s been through a lot,” Jack’s mom, Stephanie Muise said. “He’s had a lot of challenges, even just today. He’s really focused on training and how to talk to people about Tourette’s and hoping to raise awareness. He really wants people to understand him.”

Jack said that in his free time he likes to solve Rubix’s Cube and do card tricks. He also sings and is learning to play the piano.

“Over the years I’ve heard great stories about the training in D.C. and presentations the other kids have made,” Jack said in a press release. “I’m really excited that it’s my turn. It will be great to be able to share my story and educate others about a very misunderstood disorder.”