As of this writing, Portland, Oregon, is undergoing its 57th straight night of protests.
In this very Caucasian corner of the universe, The New York Times describes how “throngs of largely white protesters have raised their fists in the air and chanted, ‘This is not a riot; it’s a revolution.’ They have thrown water bottles at the federal courthouse, tried to pry off the plywood that protects the entrance and engaged in running battles with police officers through clouds of tear gas. In recent nights, the number of protesters has swollen into the thousands.”
Except, actually, it is kind of a riot:
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Water bottles and plywood-abuse that isn’t.
You can come up with plenty of reasons why — weeks after protests in most cities have died down — Portland still functions as an ongoing tent revival of violent hipster performativity.
It’s not as if the city has necessarily been calm over the past few years, with an endless series of clashes between antifa and far-right groups making not-infrequent headlines.
Protesters now say the flames of discontent were fanned when President Trump sent federal agents into the city to protect federal buildings, which happen to be popular targets for the rioters (or revolutionaries, if you prefer).
Does Portland need to end the rioting?
Whatever the case might be, I’d ask you to look at this video posted by Andy Ngô — the most prolific chronicler of the strange happenings in Portlandia — and come up with a good (or any) argument about how this advances the cause of racial justice:
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
This is the scene outside the Portland Federal Courthouse — which probably wouldn’t be the place to bring your kid at a time like this, but never mind. Posted on Thursday, it shows young kids being told to recite “f— the police” for the camera.
Lest we think the cameraman coaxed it out of them — a bit of social media entrapment — they’re already carrying signs saying “F— the Police,” “Eff Trumps Goons” and “Eff the Feds and the Police.”
We also have one of the responsible adults in the troupe holding a sign saying “F— Ted Wheeler.” He’s the incredibly permissive mayor of Portland, who apparently is an ideological target of people who’ve brought their children to an area known for riots with placards saying “F— the Police” and yet don’t seem to be facing police interference because Wheeler, among others, cannot muster the political will to end this. That’s gratitude for you.
No word at press time why these parents decided not to go all-in on the placards and merely wrote “Eff Trumps Goons” and “Eff the Feds and the Police.” I guess they figured there were children around and they didn’t needed to be subjected to such vulgar language — unless those children were saying it, of course.
And for the younger set, we also have parents bringing their kids to the nightly riots in a Babybjörn:
It was the video of the kids saying the darnedest things about police officers that seemed to garner the most attention, however:
When you’re a parent or guardian, values matter. Protests pass into history; some accomplish their goals, others are sound and fury, signifying nothing. Whether your child was at that protest will have little effect on the success or failure of the cause. Why your child was there, however, is a different story.
This isn’t Hands Across America. This isn’t the March on Washington or the Million Man March or even that fatuous meta-protest Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert threw for themselves a decade ago. This is Paris 1968 stuff, complete with tear gas and projectiles.
And how are these kids there to participate? They’re props. Not only that, they’re props being forced in front of the cameras by their parents and told to repeat base vulgarities about police officers.
Speaking in defense of the protesters — who were being criticized as having created a “white spectacle” by the head of the Portland chapter of the NAACP — city commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said the movement had brought in “a lot of new, aware folks who have joined into the battle for Black lives.”
If this is part of what awareness looks like — the willingness to abdicate parental values to use your child as a coarse puppet for perverse values — God help us all.
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