The Corner

Politics & Policy

This Is What Stolen Valor Looks Like

Nathan Phillips prays near the main opposition camp against the Dakota Access oil pipeline near Cannon Ball, N.D., February 22, 2017. (Terray Sylvester/REUTERS)

From the beginning of the Covington Catholic controversy, Nathan Phillips’s military service has been a vital part of the story. It was the early assumption that he was a Vietnam veteran that gave the initial story so much power. Not only was he a member of a historically marginalized community, he’d risked his life for our nation. The words “Vietnam veteran” were shared from coast to coast.

Then, when it emerged that he never served in Vietnam (he served in the Marine Corps Reserve, did not deploy, and was discharged as a private “after disciplinary issues”), his apologists continued to insist that Phillips had never lied. He’d used words such as “Vietnam-times” to describe his service, a version of the phrase “Vietnam era” that veterans use to describe service during the war but not in the war. Other people had made a mistake, they said. Phillips had told the truth.

Well, it turns out he had lied. And here’s the video evidence:

Here’s the quote:

I’m a Vietnam vet . . . I got an honorable discharge, and one of the boxes in there shows whether it is peacetime or what my box says is that I was in theater. I don’t talk much about my Vietnam times.

In reality, Phillips has been all over the place in his description of his service. Sometimes he’s truthful. Sometimes he’s vague. And sometimes, like in the video above, he lies.

It is honorable to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve. It is honorable to serve stateside, and the military needs refrigerator technicians (the job he performed during most of his service). It is dishonorable to lie about your service — to steal your credibility from the valor of others — and it is dishonorable to exaggerate your role. He once reportedly called himself a “recon ranger” (whatever that is). To the extent that your assessment of the confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial relies in any way on the word of Nathan Phillips, it’s time to rethink your assessment. He is not a truthful man.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More

Questions for Those Who Believed Jussie Smollett

The “we reported the Jussie Smollett case responsibly” contention has been blasted to smithereens. Twitter accounts and headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times reported as fact Jussie Smollett’s wildly implausible allegations, and many other journalists did so as ... Read More

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More