I DON’T KNOW Portland very well, but I do know that it has lots of young people with thoughts about rights and how life should be in a democracy and, frankly, they, too, are pissed at President Trump and what he has done to build on his “law and order” political foundation.
It’s what he has left these days. Everything else the man touches turns to dung or gets lost in a confusing explosion of rhetoric or tweeting. He’s unhinged, and these kinds of things are attempts to show he is not, that he is just serving as the nation’s police chief, which I don’t think is part of the presidential role.
We have police chiefs on the local scene to do that job.
For the most part, that works well even in some of America’s more troubled cities. There are problems, of course. Chicago’s police seem unable to stop weekly mayhem that claims dozens of lives as various street gangs battling over drug selling turf shoot it out, creating a heart breaking series of collateral damage deaths and injuries. I don’t know that sending in an army of federal officers dressed like Star Wars characters could touch that problem. Maybe people should be less interested in creating a drug market the gangs are trying to exploit. That would help. But that’s too obvious.
There have been lessons about this that stretch all the way back to prohibition. We just never seem to have learned them. So the grim accounting continues, sad deaths of innocent victims, not so innocent victims, people sitting on the porch, whatever. It’s not a federal problem, or at least not a problem the feds can solve. It’s local. It’s racial. It’s traditional. It was planted and grew right here in Chicago.
I suspect much the same kind of thing applies to Portland. It’s problems are home grown, whether they involve race, drugs, violence. Name it and you name a uniquely local problem that outsiders aren’t going to touch, no matter what camo gear they wear or carry.
But there is an even more troubling aspect to this “invade Portland” scene, and that has to do with the culture’s capacity to accept creeping facism without so much as a peep. Everyone in Portland should be damned well upset about this, and in the rest of Oregon, and in every other big city in America that is having its problems. They need to be addressed locally, where trust can be maintained. Nations have been through this before, all the way back to Rome, I suspect. Corrupt leaders always want an outside threat to combat because it gives them so much control over the lives of their subjects.
We aren’t Ancient Rome or a Papal Nation State or anything else. We are the United States of America, and we should be acting it. We need to dump this budding fascist from the White House and get back to a normalcy we can all be proud of, one that, at least, tries to live up to the dream of what the nation might become on its best day.