"Down with the Wall of Moms!"
"Death to the Leaf-Blower Dads!"
In George Orwell's classic novel 1984, members of the Inner Party stood in front of their telescreens daily to revile Big Brother's enemies and exult in his power. "Long live Boss Trump!"
Just so Fox News' excited coverage of Portland's "Wall of Moms" in their Covid masks and bicycle helmets confronting Trump's mercenaries in full combat gear. A second group calling themselves "Leaf-Blower Dads" are using lawn equipment to force tear gas barrages back into in the faces of the Storm Troopers who fired them.
Classic American ingenuity, if you think about it. Also a reminder that in Portland, the majority of dangerous, violent "anarchists" Boss Trump warns against are unarmed women and suburban men with yards and garages who know their way around Home Depot.
But they're not having an invasion of Trump's personal Gestapo: paramilitary forces wearing no insignia, with no badge numbers or names, and accountable to nobody.
People are coming out in thousands to defend their community from an invasion. There's also a "Wall of Vets," and "Teachers against Tyrants." That's why Portland's mayor, Oregon's governor and its two U.S. Senators have demanded the Federal agents' removal. They'd had the situation under control before the troops arrived. Which is not to nominate protest leaders for sainthood. There are opportunists and fools of every political persuasion.
Also, history teaches, provocateurs all too willing to smash windows, loot and burn for purposes of their own. During rioting at the Chicago Democratic convention in 1968, some of the angriest hotheads turned out to cops impersonating anti-Vietnam war activists.
In Portland, however, Boss Trump's crowing about his agents tear-gassing Mayor Ted Wheeler as he addressed protest marchers ("They knocked the hell out of him," he boasted on Fox News) was received with contempt: the bravado of a flabby blowhard who's hidden behind bodyguards all his life. He has approximately the same chance of winning Oregon's electoral votes as I do—and I'm not on the ballot.
If that offends you, dear reader, riddle me this: what would have been your reaction if a phalanx of anonymous, masked Federal agents had assaulted, say, a Tea Party demonstration during the Obama administration?
If you're a conservative, it might be like Paul Rosenzweig's, a career Republican who was one of Kenneth Starr's keenest sleuths in the Great Bill Clinton Sex Investigation. Writing in The Atlantic, he argued that invading Portland "is a complete corruption of conservative ideals. There is nothing conservative about unconstitutional police activity, and there is nothing conservative about unilateral federal intervention in state affairs. Those are the acts of an authoritarian."
Rosenzweig and co-author Arthur Rizer also quote Tom Ridge, former Republican governor of Pennsylvania and Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush: DHS "was not established to be the president's personal militia."
See, while prating about being a "Law and Order president," Trump is doing everything he can to provoke violence, hoping it will frighten suburban voters into holding Joe Biden somehow responsible—despite Biden's history as a pro-cop liberal throughout his long career. Also to somehow distract voters from the 150,000 Americans who have died due to his negligence and incompetence in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Of course when Richard Nixon successfully played the "Law and Order" card in 1968, Lyndon Johnson was president. Nixon's opponent was Vice-president Hubert Humphrey. So far polls show that Trump has had no success convincing anybody outside his hardcore base that others are responsible for the violence he's working so hard to provoke.
But there are three months to go, and discord is spreading across the country. Seattle, Oakland, Louisville, Aurora, CO, etc. Rival groups are carrying guns and itching for a fight.
In Austin, a man carrying an AK-47 got shot to death by a man in a car suspected of trying to run civil rights marchers down. The mayor of Richmond, VA has alleged that "white supremacists marching under the banner of Black Lives Matter" violently disrupted an otherwise peaceful protest.
The only things restraining Trump are his cowardice and fear of getting caught. "Rightly or wrongly," writes my man Charles Pierce "this puts the responsibility on the protestors themselves…it's time for the burning of police stations and other acts of violence to stop. It's time for folks to stop hurling themselves mindlessly into the face of faceless law-enforcement."
Way past time, actually. In Portland (and elsewhere), activists could foil Trump by simply staging demonstrations some distance from Federal property. Let the Trump Troopers gas each other. Activists need to shout down apostles of violence; turn vandals and arsonists over to legitimate law enforcement. Above all, emulate John Lewis, the great civil rights icon lying in state, who understood the folly of rioting and the overwhelming moral authority of non-violent mass resistance.