Saturday, August 17, 2019

Casting My Eyes Westward

I haven't been to Portland, Oregon in twenty-six years, when I stopped in the city while on a three month road-trip with some college roommates throughout the United States. We stayed with my roommate Pete's old high school friend, who was a student at famously lefty Reed College. It was a great stay, we went to a local punk club one night and visited the 24 Hour Church of Elvis. I spent an afternoon at Powell's Books, and had a great conversation with one of the clerks about the oeuvre of Portland native Beverly Cleary, who is still with us at the age of 103. I loved Portland- it was quirky and lively, though it wasn't perfect. As a Northeasterner, it was a bit disconcerting to see panhandlers my age on the street, but then again, I was the product of a stable middle-class family, so there weren't too many kids who had to flee abusive homes in my circle. I pretty much had my eyes open in my mid-twenties, when I worked a job which took me to some of the less desirable zip codes in New York City.

It pains me that Portland has become an obsession for violent right-wingers, for reasons which Arun Gupta has articulated in this article. Put succinctly, it's a liberal city which happens to be overwhelmingly white, and white supremacists tend to see overwhelmingly white communities as fertile grounds for recruitment. Today's right-wing rally was promoted by an Infowars asshole who loves to threaten violence but has a bad track record when it comes to facing pushback. Thankfully, this invasion of Portland was already a shitshow before it began, with the arrest of several PNW righties, attendees being 'catfished' into revealing their lodgings, and dissension among participants. Thankfully, there weren't any major incidents during the various demonstrations in the city, which lasted under ninety minutes. There are, though, attempts to frame the narrative through deceptive editing of footage, largely courtesy of the individual dubbed by Arun Gupta (who is on fire!) "America's Most Dangerous Grifter".

While it looks like the right-wing rally was pretty much a big bust, my instincts tell me that the dangerous time is now, when a bunch of raging assholes whose sometimes long-distance travel to engage in violence was frustrated, will be roaming the city looking for vulnerable individuals to assault, such as young people of color or perceived LGBTQ people. This sentiment is echoed by observers on the ground. These assholes didn't pay hundreds of dollars not to engage in violence.


mikey said...

It's true the cops did a pretty good job of keeping them separated.

But I was disappointed in Antifa - I wanted to see at least a FEW nazis in the hospital...

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

There was a skinny middle aged tweaker who was flattened. Righties tried to make him look like a victim, but he had his hands taped up for a fightin'.

Also, the neo-Nazis who had to ride home in a bus full of pepper spray couldn't have been too happy.

I'm actually surprised by how well the police handled things.