Portland’s Brand of Progressive Hate

Years before Donald Trump was elected president, Jeremy Joseph Christian was building a criminal record that included convictions for robbery, kidnapping and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The Portland man is now accused of whipping out a knife on a commuter train and slashing the throats of three men, killing two of them. The bloodstains hadn’t been cleaned up before Trump was collared as Christian’s political accomplice.

Had Christian killed the two men in the course of a robbery or a drug deal, the usual suspects would have been invoked: He was poor. He has a drug problem. He has a mental illness. He was abused as a child.

But Christian has been tagged a white supremacist because of statements he had made in social media and in Portland marches and protests. The men he stabbed were white so he’s a white supremacist who kills whites.

Had his victims been black, Black Lives Matter would have taken to Portland streets by now, and there would have been some looting and property damage.

The three white men intervened on behalf of two teenage girls (one black, one Arab-American) who Christian ranted at because one of them wore a hijab.

To some Portland activists, politicians and citizens, Trump’s anti-Muslim statements had to be responsible. How else could this have happened in Portland, Ore., of all places?

Last year, 19 candidates ran for mayor in what was mostly a campaign to see who could be the most progressive.

Ted Wheeler won the mayor’s race, and a statement he released after the killings on the train had the depth of a sixth-grader: “We must come together as a community and love one another.”

Actually, most sixth-graders probably understand hatred better than some of our elected officials. Telling someone they must love – or even respect – another person is a good way to nurture resentment and hatred.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill called out to their Muslim brothers and sisters in their statements. Rosenblum and Underhill even invoked Ramadan.

“We honor our Muslim community which was so horribly disrespected on the eve of the Holy Month of Ramadan,” Rosenblum said. “Our entire state must come together to, once and for all, eradicate hatred and bigotry in whatever form.”

Did the killer even know that it was Ramadan? Whatever “disrespect” was felt by Muslims celebrating Ramadan (not all Muslims do), pales in comparison to the loss suffered by the families of the two men who were killed.

Underhill, whose office is responsible for prosecuting the killer, promised the “full resources” of his agency.

That’s a switch coming from him. As of late, Underhill has been supporting a concept called “community prosecution,” which promotes diverting criminal defendants away from being charged in court if their crimes can be linked to drugs or mental illness. Instead of prosecution and punishment, defendants are steered towards diversion programs.

Earlier this year, Underhill was hailed by Street Roots, a weekly newspaper sold by homeless vendors, for his decision to stop prosecuting fare jumpers, who ride the MAX commuter train without paying. What are the odds that Jeremy Joseph Christian was riding for free during the killings? How often had he sauntered on and off the train, insulting other riders as he went?

Then there is Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown.

“I am absolutely heartbroken by the loss of two brave, compassionate lives. … My deepest condolences to the families of the good Samaritans and to the two women who were the target of the suspect’s vitriol.”

She offers equal condolences to the men who got their throats slashed and the two females who were wounded only with words?

“Oregon is a welcoming place to all,” Brown continued. “Safety while traveling through our community is a basic human right that we need to be able to guarantee to everyone, regardless of where they’re from, or what they believe.”

Brown might consider if Oregon in general, and Portland in particular, are too welcoming to violent, warped individuals like Christian.

She has made no secret about her efforts to reform the criminal justice system to be more sympathetic to defendants. A recent example: Brown appointed a new Klamath County District Attorney, and she selected a woman who would bring “a fresh perspective and a record of strong legal advocacy” to the office of county prosecutor.

Who is this woman with a fresh perspective on prosecution? EveLyn Costello, a career criminal defense attorney.

It’s not unusual for a prosecutor to have some criminal defense experience; it can be helpful. But Costello has been a criminal defense attorney for almost 20 years.

Brown apparently wants her District Attorneys to have the perspective of defense attorneys. That’s one way to lower the number of prosecutions and save money on incarceration.

A high profile crime like the commuter train attacks, with middle-class victims (one was a Reed College graduate, the other a Portland city employee)  probably won’t lend itself to a “fresh perspective” on prosecution.

In this case, it will be back to old-fashioned prosecution and punishment, the kind that leads to someone being locked up so they can’t hurt other people.

Then what?

Too many Portland progressives are married to their politics, but they can’t live with the results of those politics. It’s their politics that help create guys like Christian.

“I’m an Ex-Con. I Like Comix, Cannabis and Metal-In Any Combination. If you are an Employer, Fuck Off,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

When a Willamette Week reporter learned from Christian’s Facebook page that he supported Bernie Sanders for president, the writer deemed the discovery “a distraction,” probably because it didn’t mesh with the reporter’s image of an extreme right-winger.

Portland’s extreme left has shown many times that it can be as ugly as Christian’s anti-Muslim rantings. A glaring example: A week before the killings, Willamette Week ran an innocuous feature about two young, non-Hispanic women who opened a food cart called Kooks Burritos after they finally mastered how to make flour tortillas.

Immediately, the women were accused of “cultural appropriation.” Among the comments posted before Kooks Burritos closed:

“DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, STOP APPROPRIATING OUR FOOD. THANKS, A MEXICAN This is infuriating. What is wrong with people? On what level is this ok??? Its (sic) NOT. Its (sic) insulting to our culture and heritage.” (You know what’s really infuriating? Mexicans are white.)

The story of what happened on the train will continue to evolve as it works its way through the courts, particularly now that Christian has a public defender.

One news account suggested the black teenager, fearing for her safety, may have pepper-sprayed him. The man who was stabbed and survived may have pushed Christian first. Defense attorneys may try to portray Christian as a mentally unstable man who felt outnumbered by three men.

The teenage girls’ families may shift some blame to Tri-Met for not providing more security. The train operator made an announcement ordering the person causing a disturbance to exit at the next stop and threatened to call the police.

Ultimately, this being Portland, blame will likely fall somewhere else besides on the man who wielded the knife. But where?

Perhaps the prison system that failed to turn Christian into a nice guy when he was incarcerated.

Or perhaps the police are at fault. They should have been on the train and stopped him like they did 15 years ago when they shot him in the cheek after he robbed a convenience store.

Maybe that’s the problem – the gunshot wound left him brain damaged. The cops should have never shot him.

Or maybe they should have shot and killed him. He’s white, after all, and it would have helped counterbalance Portland’s racist history – a history that Mayor Wheeler recently cited when he launched his national search for a police chief.

While the mayor is trying to shut down a June 4th rally in Portland by what he calls “right-wing agitators,” he has been silent about a free public event on June 3 that will explore “white racial patterns that prevent us from moving towards greater racial equity.”

This workshop on the Lewis & Clark campus will be offered by Robin DiAngelo, the woman credited with creating the term “white fragility.”

Undoubtedly, she will have something the say about the man on the train and Donald Trump.

– Pamela Fitzsimmons

Related:

A Huge Rash of Homicides

From the archives:

Portland: Weird and White

Streetcar to the Loony Bin

Deep in the Heart of Oregon

 

14 Comments

  • Tb Thomas wrote:

    This is perhaps the most articulate (and infuriatingly accurate) indictment of 21st Century Liberalism, I have read since I realized our country had been subsumed by what I consider a massive personality disorder — willfully acquired by a plurality, if not a majority of American adults.

    While it has not yet been recognized by the DSM (and likely never will be, given that most mental-health professionals appear to be among the afflicted), it falls squarely under the NPD genus (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Its sub-genus would likely be ‘ideological’, ‘ethical’, or perhaps an even more cogent term: ‘Utopian’, since the severely afflicted invariably seek to have their Narcissistic Fantasy Selves validated by force of law.

    And why not? The prototypical contemporary Liberal has not much better to feel good about than the indulgence of their ideological conceits. More often than not, they are the second-stringers when it comes to participation in the affluent side of the private-sector, a reality they find difficult to reconcile without introducing philosophical explanations, and accusations of ‘cheating’ lodged against their more successful brethren.

    But they remain beneficiaries of the abundance of the modern world we enjoy. Thanks to the sacrifice (and brutal pragmatism) of the generation which fought and won World War II, a ‘free-world’ has emerged over the last seven decades, the product of which has been an explosion of invention and innovation which would have been unimaginable to our ancestors of even a few centuries ago. The baseline human condition, and quality of life for Homo Sapiens in almost every corner of the planet, has been elevated exponentially. Unfortunately for today’s Liberals, rewarding those most responsible for that success simply exacerbates their sense of failure, and requires imposing an even higher standard of economic justice than ‘equality of opportunity’ (the founding principle of our country), namely, ‘equality of outcome’.

    The fact that these two paradigms, when applied in the realm of human behavior, doesn’t matter to contemporary Liberals. Democracy, in its simplest form, mandates their right to advocate in its favor, and the reality of an uninformed electorate, lacking in the critical thinking skills necessary to recognize its self-destructive consequences, makes for an easy sell.

    Meanwhile, back in the “world of perpetual plenty” we are enjoying now, an ironic consequence of our success has been the demise of the fundamental and catalytic paradigm of human achievement that got us here: survival of the fittest. Everything we have achieved as a species, until now, has been a product of that heretofore immutable force of nature. Our political, economic, and social philosophies have been grounded on it. Our shared perception of and uses for “the future” have been dictated by it — until now.

    Absent clear and present dangers to our survival in the here-and-now, the future has become a disposable resource, to be used for our entertainment, and general self-gratification. For contemporary Liberals, belief in, and demonstration of one’s own ideological superiority, is a luxury of choice, and to them, an irresistible elixir.

    But for many, just posing as such isn’t enough. As a practical matter, many if not most Liberals find a way to mix business with pleasure, and find a profession which validates their superior being-hood financially as well as spiritually. And theres the rub. Thats where people like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Ted Wheeler come from. Pelosi and Reid see enriching themselves at public expenses as their just reward for reaching the pinnacles of government. While Ted Wheeler doesn’t need the money (given his share of the family lumber fortune), he clearly needs the job-title.

    I voted for Ted Wheeler for Mayor. My reasoning: given his background, perhaps I’d be helping elect a Democrat, who understands the necessity for, and value of free-enterprise, and a vital private-sector. Instead, it appears his need for ‘narcissistic supply’ (external validation of his narcissistic fantasy self as “social justice warrior”), trumps his ability to honor the role hard-working and extraordinarily talented (but admittedly self-seeking) entrepreneurs have played, lifting humankind out of the toxic swamps, violence, and misery that defined our species, since the advent of civilization.

    Although I suppose I would fall into the category of a ‘conservative’ by contemporary standards, my brand of conservatism requires a pragmatic response to empirical realities, in this case the radical changes which are taking place in our oceans and atmosphere. At some point in the not too distant future, our private-sector is going to be forced to confront the potentially dire consequences of Climate Change, and there is no guarantee we will be able to turn back catastrophic processes which may already be self-sustaining, particularly in the Arctic.

    That will be a good thing for mankind, or at least for those who survive. Perhaps they will find a way to apply this most crucial lesson of history, in order to create a stable society on the ruins of this one, based on a natural balance between affluence and adversity.

  • Pamela wrote:

    Thanks for mentioning narcissism.

    When I returned to Portland after an absence of two decades, I was struck by the repeated references from city officials and local media to Portland being a “national model” for this or that, as well as the never-ending stories about how special Portland is and how everyone wanted to move here. I guess that’s what a few restaurant reviews in The New York Times will do to a town, especially one as provincial as Portland.

    There are still things to like about Portland (the natural beauty, for one, although the homeless camps are trashing it).

    A friend of mine worked in Wheeler’s campaign and invited me to one of the kick-off events to meet him. I expected to vote for him. I ended up writing in “None of the above” for mayor.

    Perhaps Portland leaders need to declare their city a national model for the failure of progressive politics. Then they will have an excuse to call those failures a disease and claim they’re not responsible.

    Like you said, it’s no longer about survival of the fittest. It’s about who is the most vulnerable.

  • It’ll be interesting to see if anyone makes the connection between this incident and police involved shootings where the suspects are armed with a small knife.

    The victims in this case had overwhelming numbers and apparently attempted to de-escalate by trying to calm Christian down. Christian himself was only armed with a small (3.5″ blade) knife that he had not even displayed until he used it. Yet somehow, he was able to kill two and by the photos of Fletcher’s scars Christian was a small miracle away from notching a third murder. Add to this all that you wrote about the suspect above.

    According to current opinion this is something that is pretty much impossible, at least so impossible that police officers are being expected to confront suspects armed with knives having firearms off the table as an option.

    Now imagine having it be your job to confront angry mentally ill people armed with knives about once every week or two. This horrible example of what can go wrong is exactly why cops do what they do and why they (very rarely) shoot people who are armed with knives or (very, very rarely) who are doing nothing more than refusing to take their hand out of a pocket. Real violence is chaotic, fast, and ugly. You don’t get any retakes from a different camera angle either.

  • Pamela wrote:

    I’d like to see the media and some of Portland’s many copwatchers make that connection.

    Just two days before the attack on the commuter train, The Portland Mercury reported this story on its cover: “Why Are Cops Armed in a Mental Health Center?”

    Inside, the story by Dirk VanderHart detailed how police are refusing to disarm themselves when they are called to the Portland’s new facility for people with mental disorders.

    The Unity Center for Behavioral Health keeps a sign posted: “We do not allow weapons at Unity” and provides lock boxes for police to store their weapons. But cops have declined to ditch their guns when they don’t who or what they’re dealing with. (Don’t you love the name Unity Center? What could possibly go wrong at a place with such a peaceful-sounding name.)

    Like you say, real violence is fast and ugly. I think ordinary people are more inclined to understand that than activists like Greg McKelvey of PDXResistance.

    McKelvey, a third year law student at Lewis & Clark College, has been anointed a community leader by the media, and he is trying to influence Portland’s “national search” for a new police chief. In an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting several days before the attack, McKelvey said one of the qualities he would like to see in a new police chief is an embrace of de-escalation or go-slow policies in tense situations.

    As you note, cops who confront mentally ill people know how quickly things can go wrong.

  • Pamela I am just curious about how comfortable you are with Donald Trump in the White House? Is he like the enemy of your enemy?

  • Pamela wrote:

    Tom, I’m not anymore comfortable with Donald Trump in the White House than I would be if Hillary Clinton were in the White House.

    But I also don’t think the president of the U.S. is the most powerful person in the world.

    I voted twice for Obama. While I don’t regret voting for him, I stopped getting my hopes up about any of the occupants of the White House. (I do like the fact that Melania Trump isn’t eager to live there and has yet to decide on some special cause to foist on the rest of us.)

    America’s biggest enemy isn’t any one person. It’s this political philosophy that has turned our once pioneering spirit into a nation of soft tribes. Did you see that there is now a special collection plate for one of the uninjured girls on the train? Considering that we’re coming up on the anniversary of D-Day, maybe somebody should give her a copy of Cornelius Ryan’s “The Longest Day.” She’s about a year younger than what was once the military draft age.

    So, Tom, would you feel more comfortable if Hillary were in the White House? Would the attack on the train have never happened had she been president?

    For a deeper perspective than I can provide, check out Larry Norton’s oldtownperspective blog. Try not to read it late at night, or it might keep you awake with thoughts of nuclear war. I don’t know that Hillary in the White House would be more reassuring.

  • Excellent as always.

  • Pamela wrote:

    Thanks, Larry.

    The big national news this past week was Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Something that received less attention, but to me was also important, was The New York Times’ decision to seek buyouts of roughly 100 editors.

    The Times is the only news website I subscribe to (even though I seldom agree with its editorial page), and I think our shrinking newspapers are contributing to this country’s decline on so many fronts. Social media is no substitute.

    I can see why you monitor the foreign media. The Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova makes lightweights out of Washington, D.C.’s various spokespeople.

  • Wow! I have virtually cut myself off from the news media like the Times. The buyouts is important news. Buyouts the new firings.

    For a time, I was one of those bagels, cream cheese and the New York Times on Sunday persons. But now, I haven’t even glanced at a New York Times.

    I would agree that the shrinking newspapers are contributing to the US decline, but maybe not in the same way you might mean.

    Newspapers had an important role in our country, but when they started losing readers they lost their journalistic way. Newspapers, not just the Times, became more ad revenue oriented putting aside journalism.

    Before the internet, the print media had a monopoly on ad space. Journalists were free to be journalists. They were, in a sense, not beholden to anyone.

    Thus, once upon a time just like a fairy tale, you could believe what was written in print, especially when it was the Times and the Washington Post.

    News fit to print, hardly. Amazon owning the Post, fake news abounds. Independent journalism in the hands of the very few.

    Our own Oregonian is a great example of the decline of the print news. Once a fairly decent paper, on the decline and bought out by a large chain, Advance Publications. They began eliminating real journalists and hiring what they have today. Today, it is an internet publication not worthy of the read.

    But that has been the print media’s excuse – the internet. Print media didn’t understand the internet and didn’t care to learn.

    I found this – something I wrote in 2013: Self-fullfilling – as quality sinks readership and viewership declines | Eurasian Challenge to US hegemony

    Sorry, I am going on too long, but I wrote a lot blog posts on print newspapers during the decline of the Oregonian.

    Journalism on the large scale is gone, thankfully there are those that still produce writings that can be rightfully called journalism. But is it enough to reverse the decline.

    Pamela, you are one of those journalists. Thanks for your excellent posts.

    Feel free to edit.

  • I know they gave the Nobel to Dylan and that they don’t award it posthumously. However, now there is hope as that towering anthem of punishingly intelligent and sensitive progressive thought now has a living author:

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/06/15/533049527/yoko-ono-to-receive-songwriting-credit-on-imagine-48-years-later

    Imagine that.

    Progressives are learning wehat it’s like to have hair pulled:

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/protesters-interrupt-trump-inspired-julius-caesar-theater-production-1014455

  • There’s an old joke about a boy who complains to his mother that his little sister keeps pulling his hair.

    “Oh,” responds the mother, “she doesn’t know that it hurts.”

    A few minutes later, the mother hears the girl scream and runs into the other room. “She knows now,” the boy explains.

    There’s a lesson for Deplorables in that old joke, if they’re smart enough to absorb it.

  • Pamela wrote:

    Thanks for that old joke. Poor old Yoko and her hubby apparently never had their hair pulled — until Mark David Chapman showed up.

    Would Ono and Lennon have written such a stupid song as “Imagine” had they known how things were going to turn out? Probably. Look at all the people who lapped up that song and never considered that multimillionaire Lennon had no desire to give up all his possessions. He didn’t even want to share songwriting credit with the wife.

    Imagine a world so phony. It isn’t hard to do. Especially if you live in Portland, Oregon.

  • “..would you feel more comfortable if Hillary were in the White House? Would the attack on the train have never happened had she been president?

    I would sleep better with Hillary in the White House of course. Trump is a dangerous idiot. No I don’t believe a Hillary presidency would have stopped the attack on the train. I do wonder though if he’d still be alive if he had been black instead of white.

  • Pamela wrote:

    Would Jeremy Joseph Christian have been killed had he been black instead of white? There’s a chance he would have been shot by police if he had been black, especially if he didn’t immediately cooperate, since blacks are perceived as cop-haters. Then again, Portland police have been under much criticism, they may have tried not to shoot him to avoid controversy.

    Ultimately, though, it wouldn’t have mattered if Christian had been killed whatever his skin color. That’s the sad reality. All the money in Oregon’s state treasury will not cure a man like Christian. Let him go through the judicial system. If he’s found guilty, give him a humane death.

    This case, though, illustrates why a Hillary presidency could have been just as scary as Trump’s, only in a different way. Her choice of federal judges would likely have been favorable to the Justice Reinvestment and Restorative Justice crowds who, for the past few years, have dominated in the national news media, especially with NPR and The New York Times. It’s all about End Mass Incarceration Now.

    Even when the truth reveals there hasn’t been been mass incarceration, our national journalists can’t abandon their most cherished beliefs. For example, in the April 10th New Yorker, Adam Gopnik reviews the book “Locked In” by John Pfaff, a Fordham University law professor, whose research forced him to concede that there are very few nonviolent drug offenders in prison.

    He found that “drug offenses” are often used to prosecute violence associated with drug dealing, because drugs can be used as tangible evidence. Witnesses to violence involving drug dealing, however, can refuse to testify making the crime difficult to prosecute. (Are blacks involved in drug dealing more prone to violence? Could that be why blacks are disproportionately sent to prison?)

    Pfaff can hardly bear to concede that his politics might have been wrong in the past, so he finds a new politically correct enemy: Prosecutors who prosecute.

    Gopnik for his part, though, seems to prefer another path to reform suggested by Pfaff: The public must start caring less about crime.

    It all comes down to who’s getting gored. Had Christian killed two poor or homeless folks, would we be having this conversation?

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