Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer, American Front, Crew 38, and, Alas, Numerous Others




Today, exactly one week after two larger than usual mass murders, downtown Eugene will simultaneously become the site of a God, Guns, and Trump Rally, a gay pride parade, and a large crafts fair. The Trumpers (who created the above illustration) have promised to bring their AR-15s. They can do this because Oregon is an "open carry" state. Antifa has vowed to confront the Trumpers, and while its members aren't known for using guns, they are known for using their fists. Next weekend, the right-wing demonstrators and their left-wing counterparts will move 110 miles up the road to Portland. 

Since Trump was elected, the local papers have become peppered with hate crime incidents. In the worst one yet, a self-described white nationalist stabbed two people to death and injured a third on a Portland commuter train in 2017. Hate crimes in the nation as a whole rose under Obama only to take off like a rocket under Trump. When asked this week if his rhetoric was partially responsibility for last week's El Paso murders, Trump said that his words don't push people apart but bring them together (he had previously said it's the "America-hater Democrats" who push people apart). Conservative talk radio agrees, and while it and Trump seldom deign to mention right-wing hate crimes, they both argue that Antifa should be singled out for a domestic terrorism designation, although the group's members have yet to kill anyone.

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists fifteen--nearly all of them conservative--hate groups in Oregon*, which are two more than in my historically racist home state of Mississippi. Liberal Eugene  has seen a 380% increase in hate crimes in four years,** although when I came here in 1986, it was an alternative-minded hippie town that many dubbed "The Berkeley of the North," because of its left-wing radicalism. Some of the notorious Weathermen were from here, and the town's Selective Service office was broken into and its files burned. The Grateful Dead hit town every summer; Ken Kesey wrote books and created scandals; nudists enjoyed a publicly-owned beach on the Willamette; and both drug use and nudity were common at the Oregon Country Fair. Then came the bomb-making anarchists who, like many, believed that violence is the threshold to utopia. Now it's right-wing hate groups and--barely noticeable by comparison--Antifa.

I've learned over the years that few things are as bad as our fears make them out to be, yet they can be even worse. I still haven't decided whether to join the protest, which starts in an hour. This might well prove to be yet another day when America demonstrates that it loves guns the way addicts love meth. I am afraid that if I go, I might become one of the dead people whose names scroll across the evening news, yet I'm somehow more afraid of staying home. I need to be a part of this.


*https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map

** https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/2019/07/oregon-had-the-6th-biggest-rise-in-reported-hate-crimes-in-the-nation-over-a-4-year-period-study-says.html

An interesting article about the Portland Antifa: https://www.wweek.com/news/2019/08/07/portlands-antifascists-punch-white-supremacists-are-they-also-helping-trump/

8 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Sigh.
Our Liberal party has been labelling the Greens and their supporters as domestic terrorists.
If you do go, and I understand why it is calling you, I do hope you can stay safe.

Tom said...

You'll have to let us know if you go, and what happened if you did. But whatever, be safe. Why can't everyone just get along?

Emma Springfield said...

I understand your longing to go. We are from a generation who used demonstrations as a tool to bring our ideals to a place of attention. I think most of the demonstrations are an excuse to cause physical harm to those who do not agree with them. I hope you decide not to go. There are other ways to support your ideals.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Since all of this is pushed along by mediaI wonder if protests of this nature work any more. My guess is to stop buying any goods except real necessities and work as little as possible at you job so production slows: if all do this the economy will feel it. Money is power and the workers keep making rich more rich.The protest needs to be more than a walk. That method is a waste of time now. Stop shopping and reduce labour as a way to hurt the profiteers. New approaches are needed. Why ? Because recent protests have failed. Remember the kids last March? Even crying kids do not get the job done.

Strayer said...

Did you go? I read that a guy who showed up at an El Paso latino community center, with loaded guns and a knife, yelling hate, is now on his way to Portland. His truck is covered in Trump stickers, even has a mural of Trump made out like the Terminator on the back. He had latex gloves when detained. He was released since they stated he hadn't yet committed a crime. Now he's somewhere in Oregon allagedly. We seem to attract the crazies.

Strayer said...

He's allegedly headed to Portland for the routine Antifa/Proud Boys street brawl. The mayor has told such people "we don't want you here" like that will work. The police have promised this time will be different if they brawl. I hope so.

Andrew said...

Not amusing but an interesting thing I saw this morning was for all Muslim men in the US buy a large firearm and in open carry states, carry them around, openly and everywhere.

Snowbrush said...

"Not amusing but an interesting thing I saw this morning was for all Muslim men in the US buy a large firearm and in open carry states, carry them around, openly and everywhere."

Andrew, although, unrestricted "open carry" is legal in Oregon, it's only legal in 25 of the other 50 states.