Portland's Riots Are About Politics, Not Justice

I’ve been of two minds about the increasing violence that we’re seeing in deep-blue, Democrat-controlled cities like Seattle and Portland over the past few months. On the one hand, the riots and violent demonstrations that we’ve seen in dozens of cities since the death of George Floyd is unlike anything that I’ve witnessed firsthand in American history (I wasn’t around for the riots in the 1960s), and the deep cultural and political divisions have only grown wider as the coronavirus and our response has resulted in widespread unemployment and economic hardships on tens of millions of Americans. Revolutions don’t happen when we’re fat and happy, after all. They generally require stress to be placed on a nation until it breaks, and this is a pretty stressful time that we’re living in.

On the other hand, even in a city like Portland, where riots have become a nightly feature around the federal courthouse, we’re talking about a couple of thousand people at most who are actively taking part in the demonstrations, with a fewer number actually committing acts of violence. Portland’s about as left-leaning as you can get without tipping over, but only a handful of the city’s 653,000 residents are turning out to try to burn it down. Thanks to the media’s love and reliance on chaos and anger, the riots in Portland and other cities have been amplified, but the number of would-be revolutionaries hasn’t really grown in response. They’re a real phenomenon, in other words, but they don’t pose an existential threat to America.

To help me sort out my internal debate, I welcomed Townhall.com columnist Kurt Schlichter to Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. today, and I’m glad that I did. Kurt’s squarely on board with the school of thought that the riots are now a political response to President Trump and the 2020 election, and have little or nothing to do with the death of George Floyd or even calls for criminal justice reform. The Portland NAACP said as much recently when its president called the nightly riots a “white spectacle.”

“Spectacle is the best way to describe what Portland’s protests have become,” he told KATU News Monday. “Vandalizing government buildings and throwing projectiles, these things draw attention, but I want to make it very clear, that we are grateful for allies that are on the streets, and we applaud them for the courageous efforts that they’re taking to stand up for Black lives. However, it’s not just the protests, it’s how it looks to the rest of the world that takes this spectacular moment in history and makes it spectacle.”

He went on to say demonstrators should “summon a tone of seriousness.”

Oh, I’d argue the  antifa-types, anarchists, and wannabe Trotskys and Lenins who think that they’re the vanguard of the revolution are serious, but those truly committed revolutionaries don’t care about how their violence is being perceived. As Kurt points out, there’s a growing concern on the Left that the continued riots and civil disorder in these cities is quickly growing tiresome for many Americans. Our mutual friend Ed Morrissey has been covering the effort to abolish the police in Minneapolis, for example, and what a disaster that’s become.

In Seattle, they’re apparently talking about dismantling the entire local criminal justice system. If you watch the show on a regular basis, you know that I’ve got no problems pointing out failures of the justice system, but there’s a big difference between working to reduce plea bargains and scrapping both plea bargains and a trial by jury altogether. A majority of Americans may be in a reformist mindset at the moment, but they’re not revolutionaries ready to storm the Bastille.

So, I don’t want to overstate the threat that our nation faces in these tenuous times, but I don’t want to understate it either. Not only is the media (broadcast and social) amplifying the violence and turning into a nihilistic piece of political performance art, but as Attorney General Bill Barr pointedly told members of Congress today, “What makes me concerned for the country is for the first time in my memory, that the leaders of one of our two great political parties, the Democratic Party, are not coming out and condemning mob violence and the attack on federal courts.”

Those who are intent on violently tearing this country down and building utopia on the ashes make up a pretty small percentage of the population, but their own Marxist ideology tells them that they don’t need to be a political majority to overthrow the existing order, so it’s not like the lack of interest on the part of a majority of the American people will dissuade them. I don’t think they could actually achieve their goal, but with the media egging them on and Democrat politicians offering muted objections (at least until Election Day), they can make life pretty miserable for residents of their cities in the meantime.

Be sure to check out the entire conversation with Kurt above, which also includes a little discussion about his new book. Stick around after for more Second Amendment-related news of the day, including a Montana woman who held an armed intruder for police after she discovered him asleep on her couch.