Bang The Drum Slowly (Update)

The first videos to hit social media framed the issue. Some kid wearing a MAGA hat in the face of a Native American elder, with a fixed mocking grin on his face as other young white men chanted and laughed in the background. At its most benign, it was extremely disrespectful. At its worst, it was a racist confrontation.

On the one hand, this smirking, MAGA hat-wearing kid exemplified the persona of current-day evil. On the other, the Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, was a Vietnam vet and activist for the rights of Indiginous people.

In an interview Saturday, Phillips, 64, said he felt threatened by the teens and that they suddenly swarmed around him as he and other activists were wrapping up the march and preparing to leave.

“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’ ” Phillips recalled. “I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”

To be clear, the young man who stood there, unblinking, smirking, appeared to block Phillips. But additional video complicates the scenario.

It appears that it was Phillips who walked toward the young man, not the other way around. It’s not that this kid with the MAGA hat sought out ignominy, to block this Native American elder’s way, but rather found himself caught in the center of a situation and, rather than turn away, show either respect or courtesy, he held his ground, held his stare.

It was then that I recognized the smirk on the young man’s face. It’s the one that a kid puts on when he’s caught in the spotlight and has no clue what to do. It’s the face of brash confusion, fearing that if he backs away, his friends will call him a wimp, so he stands there impassive and stares, pretending to be tough when his mind is whirling with “oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, I don’t want to be in the middle of this and I don’t know what to do to get out.”

In retrospect, millions of people would be more than happy to tell this young man what to do, though most advice would be physically impossible.

This young man didn’t take a trip to Washington, D.C. from Covington, Kentucky to ruin his life. His decision to stare down this elder wasn’t a good one, but kids often make poor decisions, or at least choices that reflect poorly on them later. This decision was disrespectful, both to an elder as well at a Native American, but it was not the “vicious racism” it first appeared to be.

Indeed, it may well have been less racism than a deer caught in the headlights. It’s not as if Phillips’ purpose there, beating the drum, chanting, wasn’t to draw attention to himself. He got it, even if it didn’t “feel” the way he hoped it would, and the way most of us believe it should.

How one views the videos is, as so many things these days are, a litmus test of tribalism. And then came the righteous.

Dox the boy. Out him. Name him. Destroy the evil seed.


This young man in his MAGA hat didn’t touch Phillips. He didn’t push his way through the crowd to confront Phillips, to deliberately be the person blocking Phillips’ way. He didn’t scream at him, epithets or otherwise. Not even, as some in the crowd are alleged to have done, “build the wall,” a phrase that offends many while being as much an expression of political view as any other.

But “no one need ever forgive him”? Those who cling to the untenable ideology of social justice claim that no child, no matter his crime, should be sentenced to life without parole. They argue that no person is irredeemable. They condemn draconian punishment, with a special emphasis on juveniles because they are kids, their minds not yet fully formed, their ability to judge impaired by their immaturity. Don’t condemn them forever, even if they committed as heinous a crime as murder.

And yet this young man, whose crime is smirking while wearing a MAGA hat, should be doxxed, destroyed, never forgiven? This one moment, this one image, should define his life?

There are many teachable moments here, from this young man’s poor choice to stand there, unblinking, smirking, in the face of Phillips. Regardless of the fact that he didn’t put himself in the way and block Phillips intentionally, he also didn’t lower his gaze, back off and show this man the respect he deserved. The kid may not have started it, but he didn’t end it either. This was disrespectful.

But another teachable thing is the reaction, both the leaping to tribal conclusions and the extremes to which the woke sought to go in condemnation. Destroy this kid’s life? The woke claim the mantle of moral righteousness, that they are the carriers of the torch of respectfulness, tolerance and kindness. Here, they carry the torch, along with the pitchfork, but only to burn and destroy their perceived enemies.

You can certainly condemn this young man’s conduct, even his politics if you assume he’s mature enough to comprehend the significance of wearing the MAGA hat rather than merely another kid parroting the politics of his parents. But to dox him? To actively desire to destroy this kid? To be so filled the hatred that you match, if not outstrip, those with the audacity to disagree with your smug message of love and kindness, when you aren’t trying to cut some miscreant’s throat?

When Nathan Phillips decided to march, his purpose was to draw attention to his cause. He banged his drum and got far more attention than he could have imagined. Had this young man not stood there with a smirk on his face, few would have known that Phillips was banging the drum. Few would have given it a thought.

Update: What makes a liberal progressive want to punch a child?

Who would have possibly imagined the “punch a Nazi” would slide down the slippery slope?

60 thoughts on “Bang The Drum Slowly (Update)

  1. Ray

    I wince at this image not only because of how annoying the kid’s face is but also because how reminiscent it is of youth. Being over 40, I am thankful everyday day that there wasn’t technology to record every stupid thing me and my friends did in school trips, at the mall, in school, etc…. Somehow we all turned out to be fairly decent human beings. Maybe that would have happened if faster if we were outed at the time. But, more likely, it would have ended up worse. I’ve yet to hear a happy ending to one of these doxing, public shaming incidents. Poor decisions all around.

  2. L. Phillips

    Not being a “big picture” kind of guy and not being inclined to tweet I can only hope that several persons responded to Mr. Aslan with, “Honestly, yes we have.”

  3. Rich in Fla

    While I can’t disagree with your anti-doxxing stance and your objective analysis of how the face to face incident actually occurred, you missed an essential element of the overall situation.

    What were those kids doing in DC ? They were brought there by their school for a right to life march.
    Used as political pawns and dressed in the latest political attire of the right. In addition to that, their
    chaperones (including a school official) didn’t do much chaperoning.

      1. Rigelsen

        It is certainly Rich in Fla’s concern, even if it is not clear to an impartial observer how it is even relevant to the post, much less an essential element.

    1. David Meyer-Lindenberg

      Have you been to DC recently? This is completely normal. Without exaggerating, any time you walk past the intersection at 10th and K, there’s a bus disgorging a MAGA horde.

      1. SHG Post author

        Have you noticed the comments to this post and the apparent need for large doses of Ritalin? So, Adderall for you? This may make the top ten least focused comments to a post ever.

        1. Casual Lurker

          “…and the apparent need for large doses of Ritalin? So, Adderall for you?”

          Ritalin (Methylphenidate) is an entirely different class of stimulant than Adderall (mixed salts of Amphetamine).

          You have to bring most comorbid [psych] conditions — typically depression — under control, before you can treat for ADHD.

          “Squirrel? Squirrel!!!”

          That includes any conditions that cause “formed visual hallucinations”. (I didn’t see a Squirrel. Did you see a Squirrel?)

          Best to do a full workup before doling out the meds. (Hint: you’re driving in the wrong lane, Lawboy!)

  4. Mark L

    A more complete version of what occurred:

    The students start to gather, as directed, to meet their bus. Multiple protests were taking place at the same location. Around 1:11:00, the chanting begins. At around 1:12:00, the drummer decides to engage with the students.

    1. SHG Post author

      I often wonder whether commenters who “help” consider whether I’ve chosen the vid I’ve chosen for a reason, and since it’s my blog, and I chose what I chose, they should start their own fucking blog if they think their choice is fucking better than fucking mine. What do you think, Mark?

      1. Mark L

        You’re absolutely right. This is your space to run as you see fit. Didn’t know you’d seen and discarded the longer version. I found it incredibly interesting context that I didn’t quite appreciate from the shorter clips; thought you (and others) might appreciate it as well.

        Hope you have an enjoyable afternoon.

        1. SHG Post author

          A bit of insight into blogging. Most people can’t spend 1:46 minutes watching a video. Few care that much, and most of the time it adds nothing to the substance at issue. You were so incredibly interested that you would spend that much of your life watching a video of this? That may be more revealing than you intended. But again, feel free to start your own blog, write your own post and include this 1 hour and 46 minute video that’s incredibly interesting. Best of luck.

          1. Bryan Burroughs

            A 2-hour video? Sure, that’s too much. But even the video you offered doesn’t show enough context, and there are others available which do, and are easy to find.

            It’s not just that Phillips walked up to this boy. It’s that he walked up to the entire crowd of students who were minding their own business, from hundreds of feet away. Phillips chose this confrontation, intentionally. And then lied about it. He’s not a poor innocent bystander, he’s a provocateur, and he should be called out as such.

            The news outlets involved better make loud, public retractions and apologies, as this is a slam dunk libel case, one that would even succeed had it been done against a public figure.

      2. Jim Ryan

        Why would “…they start their own fucking blog…”, when you’ve already done the heavy lifting.

      3. Rob

        You post a political and emotional fueled blog entry and get butthurt when someone challenges you? This isn’t “your space.” This is the internet, and it’s open to public scrutiny. Your immediate response to be a jerk to this guy tells me that you receive plenty of hate over your views. Maybe your critics points might be worth considering. MAYBE you’re the asshole.

        1. SHG Post author

          Maybe. On the other hand, if you had a little more knowledge, you might realize how idiotic your comment is. But day trippers come, say stupid things and leave, never to be thought about again.

        2. Ron

          Here’s where you went wrong. This is a law blog, for lawyers and judges, and we like it not only because of what SHG writes, but because he keeps the comments from going down the toilet with off-topic idiocy by assholes who have no business being here, can’t stay on topic or feel entitled to take dives down their own rabbit holes.

          And of all things, it is entirely his space. What it is not is yours. If you don’t like it, take a hike. No one cared that you’re here. No one will ever care that you’re gone. People like you stray into this hotel from time to time, spew their minor idiocy, and disappear. There is an asshole here, but it’s not SHG. Now go away, Rob. Bye.

  5. Oskar

    Compassion for everyone*,

    Everyone* deserves a second chance,

    No one* is irredeemable!

    *not applicable for person’s deemed ‘Other’. To see which traits, opinions, skin colour or status makes you ‘not a person’ this week see addendum 1-643.

  6. Julia

    I saw it on TV (CNN) and my first reaction was “it’s very wrong to shame a child on TV”. The problem is bigger than Twitter if the adults in the media treated it as news.

  7. Hunting Guy

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

    At some point someone wearing a MAGA hat will be harassed. Shortly thereafter, they will be explaining to the police, “I was in fear of my life so I drew my pistol and shot them.”

    1. SHG Post author

      As the longer vids are making the rounds, some are turning to the MAGA hat as stand-alone justification for attacking the kid, saying it’s “fighting words” and the modern day swatsticka. I’m amazed no one has been murdered for wearing one. Yet.

  8. Jake

    I can’t believe, after everything we’ve learned in the last 20 years, that anybody would send their children on an overnight trip with the Catholic Church running things.

  9. Rich in Fla

    Having seen you verbally eviscerate and occasionally edit those who don’t follow the rules of your blog,
    I tend to lurk 98% of the time and carefully comment for the remaining 2%. I really do think long and
    hard before hitting your ” post button” like nowhere else on the web.

    I did not watch any video of this event as I am sick of the current political situation and don’t need
    to depress myself further. I find that you tend to post opinions that I agree with but then add a
    dimension that I would have never considered such as this young man getting branded for life for
    just one moment of douchebaggery.

    I stand by my opinion these kids where being used inappropriately but acknowledge going off on a tangent in your space. You gave me food for thought and I thought I was replying in kind. Silly me.

    1. SHG Post author

      Yes, the entire reason SJ exists is so some guy who calls himself Rich in Fla can go off on his completely irrelevant tangent as if he’s doing me a favor in his third comment. Silly you.

    2. Miles

      Not to rub salt in the wound, but if you’ve lurked here long enough, you should be well aware that commenting with your off-topic tangent wasn’t replying in kind, but being an unwelcome asshole. And that’s not just to SHG, but to the rest of us as well. Nobody is here to find out what tangential crap Rich fro m Fla has floating around in his head.

  10. B. McLeod

    “Punch a Nazi” was always doomed to slide down the slippery slope. It’s proponents had crossed that line between making a point with violence and making it any other way. These people are mindless in their fanaticism, so much so that they can’t even see how much a part of the problem they are.

    1. SHG Post author

      This seems so obvious as to be unworthy of mention, and yet the many woke and educated people whose immediate visceral desire is to harm someone, even a child, reminds as why piggy was killed. They’re every bit as vicious and brutal as those they hate.

  11. Nigel Declan

    Unlike the above video, the motion picture Bang the Drum Slowly, starring Michael Moriarty and Robert De Niro, is an enjoyable watch.

  12. Laches

    Thanks for providing some thoughtful, reasoned perspective on this incident, which has been in very short supply.
    On Twitter it’s been #TeamWoke acting like this was a Klan march and whipping up mobs against these kids, their parents, their teachers, their friends, their pets, etc. vs. #TeamMAGA, painting these kids as blameless victims and praising them for their model behavior.
    Both of these perspectives are hysterical nonsense based on the video I saw. What makes me sad is that the hysterical nonsense wasn’t just coming from flaming nutjobs, but some sane grown-ups who should know better.

    1. SHG Post author

      Even after the initial video was subsumed in the longer videos and the nearly two hour video, people stuck to their guns. We’ve been post-factual for a while now, but rarely is it as flagrant as this instance. Video doesn’t inform our views, but is merely an excuse to justify them.

      1. Laches

        Post-factual indeed. Today I’ve seen a few folks admit that they rushed to judgment and upon viewing the longer videos, they realized there was some important context missing from these reports. Predictably, each of admissions has been met by hundreds of replies of “What is wrong with you! Can’t you see these kids are literally Hitler!”
        The ability to be rational is like a superpower these days.

  13. Sacho

    Do you still stand by your stance that the young man’s decision was foolish and disrespectful, in face of the unedited video? Seeing Phillips for what he is – a liar and provocateur(things the teen didn’t necessarily know at the time), it’s hard to give him any respect. The students also allege that his group were chanting “go back to Europe”, giving them a reason to stand their ground.

    Perhaps the kid made the right decision for the wrong reasons, as he claims he was just confused and not sure what to do in an interview. The elder saw the confusion in the kid’s face, and decided to go with righteous indignation(bang the drum in his face), instead of care and guidance(converse with the kids, explain what’s going on, ask them to move?). Perhaps an elder deserves more respect and deference than a kid who doesn’t have a clue, but then it’s also the elder’s responsibility to act with more understanding.

    I think the kids met the natives with the same respect as they were offered.

    1. SHG Post author

      Tribalism compels us to see one side as right, the other as wrong, and the tribe dictates which is which. Reality isn’t that simple. Believing is seeing, and people see what they want to see.

    2. Roald

      The new video shows, to my eyes and with my biases, that Phillips waded through the group, which parted as he approached, but this young man did not move when Phillips approached. For what reason he did not move we do not know. The unedited video indeed shows, again to my eyes, that the young man was foolish and disrespectful. We see what our biases allow us to see. But those on the right should recognize that as well. The unedited video exonerates the young men only to your biased eyes; different biases than mine to be sure.

  14. Ryan

    I recognized the kids grin as well. He is trying to look serious but he is struggling not to laugh at the ridiculousness of what’s happening around him. This kid just had black israelites yelling at him, his friends are chanting away with pep songs and God knows what else, and then out of nowhere a chanting chief gets in his face drumming away. Ain’t that America.

  15. the other rob

    Re. the update: An Antifa chick once told me that she believed in “punching a Nazi”. I smiled and replied “Knock yourself out.”

  16. Neil

    I’ve looked for mention of Nathan Phillips cause, but there is none. The only issue framed is what constitutes the due and proper respect the young man owed Nathan Phillips. In another age, the burden of giving and getting proper respect would have fallen exclusively on Nathan and his antagonist,
    and we might have recognized this as ‘protecting their honor’, or ‘saving face’. I would prefer that such questions of honor and due respect remain the exclusive issue of those immediately involved. In our age of toxic masculinity, the twitter mob desires to settle the honor issue, even threatening violence. Despite the original antagonists managing to end the confrontation without violence, the ambiguous resolution of the honor question prompts the mob to action. Gone are the days, portrayed in Ridley Scott’s film “The Duelists”, where people had the sense and self discipline to remain bystanders to other folks conflicts over issues of honor and respect.


    Being an “elder” which is to say retired with a news habit, I have spent some ten hours on this particular event and the energy is beginning create another personal obsession. So with all readers’ indulgence I vent as follows: 1) a picture turns out NOT to be worth a thousand words; there are many reasons teen boys smirk and teen girls simper and they all have to do with insecurity, not aggression: 2) Nelson Phillips is indeed a professional provocateur who likes to confront kids and has lied six way from yesterday about this event; 3)as an elder (not as elder as me) should he not have stopped drumming in the kid’s face and said “Hi, my name is Nelson what’s yours?” and even “Would you mind helping me up the steps?” What use after all is the respect for elders but they nurture teach the young? Well, on this day commemorating MLK, a truly great preacher, my last preachy hope is: disdain the immediate pleasure of the internet; cultivate critical thinking.


        Yeah, I did. Retired Judge with extra time on my hands recovering from knee replacement. Plus the weather in Seattle this time of year is really boring.

        [Ed.Note: Fixed your “reply,” but only this time.]

  18. dsp

    I don’t understand why the kid’s actions were disrespectful. In the culture in which I grew up, his behaviour seems perfectly normal, and to “lower his gaze [and] back off”, as you say, would not have been perceived as respectful at all, but rather weird. I think this may be a ‘culture clash’.


    Scott is a super ASS HOLE, who spends so little time on seeing the FRAMES in a PIC video, his views are so often off the mark.
    What else can be added, with a smirk like his which conveys arrogance, contempt, and
    disrespect for most of mankind, hidden behind a facade of a SNAP CHAT on about nothing much, &
    spending more than 25 seconds on his SO called SPACE of vapidness is really about as much
    as one should allocate to Mr ELDER Moments city slicker. Scott giving sermons on respect, huh, bring on some Aretha tunes.

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