It was only a year ago that everyone who didn’t share your feelz was racist and sexist. Good times. Now, they’re fascists and nazis*. This is a problem, because they’re running out of horrible names to call people, but that doesn’t mean they can’t stop a rose parade in Portland.
Across the nation, peaceful protest against President Trump continues. But a violent fringe has been using Trump’s rise as a justification for political violence, as if his authoritarian impulses justify authoritarianism from his opponents.
This tiny faction knows that most of their compatriots on the left are committed to nonviolence, so they frame their aggressive actions as a narrow exception to the rule.
Is it a tiny faction? One would suppose, despite the lack of any metric by which to determine it one way or another. We would certainly prefer to believe the faction to be tiny, because if not, then mass hysteria has turned America into its worst nightmare.
Most famously, they insisted that it was okay, or even righteous, to punch white supremacist Richard Spencer because he was “a Nazi.” That position impels the debate down a slippery slope. And now, activists in Oregon caused the cancellation of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade, a community event in the southeast quadrant of Portland, by threatening to forcibly drag “fascists” off the parade route if they weren’t excluded.
The “punch a nazi” question is what makes this a lot harder to pawn off on a tiny fraction. An awful lot of people who believe themselves to be on the side of truth and justice were pretty clear that they thought it was totally cool to punch a nazi, even if it wasn’t actually a nazi but just an insignificant poseur who said bad things. They were other full of love and tolerance, except when it came to a guy who uttered awful words and otherwise posed no threat of doing anything about it. Yet, punch away. It was fine. It was different.
But who were these fascists, these nazis, in Portland that were also an exception?
Who exactly did they want removed from the parade? The local Republican Party of Multonomah County.
We have a putative two-party system, Republicans and Democrats. Both traditionally pretty bland, plain vanilla political parties, often indistinguishable. Were the Multonomah County Republicans anything special, different? Nope. Just plain vanilla, but some people didn’t care for that flavor.
“You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely,” the anonymous email said, telling organizers they could cancel the Republican group’s registration or else face action from protesters.
Threats of facing “action” are kinda vague, especially when they come from an anon email. After all, only a coward would sent an anonymous email threatening vague action. Or a 12-year-old who snuck on the computer when mommy wasn’t watching. Or a nutjob. Or…the Antifa on Facebook!
The fascists know that we’ll keep shutting their marches down, they are now planning to march within other parades to protect their message of hate and white supremacy – it WON’T work. Nazis will not march through Portland.
The group we’re disrupting is #67. It is registered to the Multnomah County Republicans, but these infiltrators are the same folks from Lake Oswego, Salem, Vancouver, and even Berkeley. These are the folks that attacked a woman at PDX, they harassed Latinx parishioners with slurs and threats at a local church, they spew hate, threaten and curse young women at women’s health clinics. They seek to intimidate and harass our Latinx, Muslim and LGBTQ+ neighbors and friends. Their Trump flags, their red MAGA hats and their hate group badges are all intended to normalize support for an orange man who bragged about sexually harassing women and who is waging a war of hate, racism and prejudice against our Muslim, Latinx, Black and Native neighbors. They will attempt to march from the Eastport Plaza to Yamhill, but nazis will not march through our city.
A litany of horribles, but was that really done by the Multonomah County Republicans? More to the point, is this “tiny faction” really fighting the Final Solution or political disagreement with their values, and have they gone off the deep end to the point of violence over it? Nazis will not march through our city? These are the Republicans, the Grand Old Party. You may not want to vote for them, but nazis?
The parade organizers decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Rather than throw the Republicans out of the parade, they decided to cancel the parade itself. They didn’t need the headache and didn’t want to become the Berkeley of Portland. It was just a fun, local parade. Now it wasn’t fun anymore.
As Conor Friedersdorf notes, however, the threats won the day.
So long as threats of violence succeed in causing events to get shut down by their risk-averse organizers, more threats will be made. One wonders who this faction on the left will next label a Nazi or a fascist in order to justify their own use of fascistic tactics.
The difficult tactic, that you don’t negotiate with terrorists, comes to mind for just this reason. Acquiesce to threats of violence and it creates an obvious incentive to perpetuate violence, or at least the threat of it. The difference, of course, is that there “fascistic tactics” are for good, which takes them outside the rule that you don’t use violence to silence disagreement.
But Conor concludes with a question to which he knows the answer. We’ve seen it happen with those called racist and sexist for not adhering to the progressive orthodoxy, and we’re seeing it happen again, if only by a tiny faction. Then again, if it bleeds it leads. A tiny faction, left unquestioned by the progressive nazi punchers, is enough. And the stench it emits won’t easily go away.
*Note that the word “nazi” is spelled here with a lower case “n.” That’s to distinguish real Nazis, as in the ones under Hitler in Germany, with the use of the word here. That the Antifa seek to call their adversaries nazis doesn’t make them so. It’s just a word they use.