Remind me never to visit Portland, Oregon. Long associated with the brand of outré hipster leftism deliciously satirized in TV’s Portlandia, Oregon’s largest city is now a zone of mass political violence. It isn’t quite Beirut-on-the-Willamette, to be sure. No suicide bombs are ripping through the farmers’ market at Shemanski Park, and the city’s radicals don’t store rockets in schools and hospitals.
Even so, Portland is fast emerging as America’s answer to those benighted lands where “politics” involves roving gangs of masked fanatics terrorizing the average citizen, checkpoints operated by the henchmen of competing extremisms, cityscapes divided by unbridgeable ethnic and sectarian fault lines, the central authority indifferent to the mayhem and powerless to stop it.
Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s the local paper, The Oregonian, reporting on recent Antifa violence:
A driver who pushed through a crowd of demonstrators in downtown Portland while they pounded on his sedan and yelled for him to stop says, contrary to their accusations, that he never tried to run them over. . . . The incident, which unfolded Saturday during a march to protest a fatal police shooting the previous week, was relatively minor by Portland standards. It spawned no injuries, arrests or riots. Police, who were nearby but mostly unseen, made no effort to intervene.
Video of the incident shows [the embattled driver’s] silver Lexus slowly turn east onto Salmon as a handful of protesters trail alongside his car. Some can be heard yelling. Others appear to strike and hit his vehicle. At one point, a masked demonstrator dressed in black throws his body onto the hood of the car as it inches down the block. The demonstrator eventually slides off to the side of the car and [the driver] hits the gas.
The driver, Kent Houser, is the perfect sort of everyman caught on the wrong side of the culture war. The 74-year-old was trying to reach his wife in Portland’s Eastside when he had the misfortune of running into the throngs of black-clad, hammer-and-sickle-bearing Antifa goons. He walked away from the incident covered in shards of broken glass and significant damage to his vehicle. He was lucky.
Astonishingly, Portland police justified their failure with a statement that seemed to subtly validate Antifa aggression: “We recognize the strong community concern and interest regarding how police officers respond to crowd control situations,” the unfortunately named Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a statement. “There is no cookie-cutter response to these events.” Actually, in civilized cities, police confront and hold accountable thugs who act this way in broad daylight.
But Portland isn’t exactly civilized. Welcome to Antifastan.