Photo by AP
Despite much-hyped, big-boy threats of murder and mayhem, this weekend's appearance in Portland, Oregon of several hundred neo-Nazi Proud Boys came to a relatively quiet end after meeting with a much larger contingent of antifa and other defiantly mellow protesters, a huge police contingent, road signs (somehow) declaring "Fuck Nazis," and a quicker-than-planned departure in teeny mini-buses. For weeks, police and officials had been gearing up for a violent confrontation as white supremacists bloviated about bringing knives, clubs, guns, or "Big patriot fists and boots will do just fine,” to protest - big irony and cognitive dissonance alert here - the "domestic terrorism" of antifa and other anti-fascist protesters. The two opposing forces had already faced off in Portland, which boasts the complex mix of a progressive populace with racist, right-wing police and often weak political leadership. Seeking to avoid violence this time, officials kept both groups mostly apart with a network of concrete barriers and a massive, riot-gear-bedecked police presence, leaving many combative fascists left wandering the streets in search of an enemy. Many residents just stayed home, there were a few bloody scuffles with antifa, and police arrested 13 - in a say-what? twist, mostly anti-fascist protesters.
Still, the largely benign mood was reflected in the sign, "This Is Oregon. Be Nice." Along with antifa forces, the over 1,000 protesters featured giddy giant unicorns, anti-fascist dancers and marching bananas holding aloft a garish banner of a peel with, "Don't tread on me." A fundraising campaign for Causa Oregon, which supports immigrant families, also raised thousands with $1 dollar donations for every "fascist baby man" who showed up. The already-beleaguered fascists ended the day after a mere 30 minutes of blustering: They decamped across a previously-closed bridge escorted by police - prompting the hashtag #PetrifiedProudBoys - and clambered onto adorable little buses. Some people charged police were complicit; police said they'd "facilitated a de-escalation of potential conflict." Predictably, both sides claimed victory. Progressives dismissed the Boys' threat as emptily ugly; Nazis gloated they got the attention of the White-Nationalist-In-Chief, who stirred the clueless, hateful waters by musing from his golf game maybe we should declare anti-fascists "ORGANIZATIONS OF TERROR" - a move Portland's mayor deemed supremely unhelpful. For many, the hero of the day was the guy who waded into a toxic sea of threats, sneers and MAGA hats to pointedly declaim "Fuck you" to every loser he encountered. At first, viewers thought he added the invective to a dog in their midst; later, people realized he'd rightly absolved the dog with a gracious, "You're cool."
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke
Portland hero wades into armed white supremacists to say "Fuck you!" to each of them individually. Then says "You're cool" to the dog. ❤
— Alicia Ní Chuinn (@thefinalguinn) August 18, 2019
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Photo by The Oregonian