We’d walked all the way downtown anyway, so I said, Well heck. Let’s go watch the rallies.
What rallies, Dave wanted to know?
That would be your Patriot Prayer rally, with guest appearances from the Proud Boys, plus the other contestants, Antifa and a group of Reg’lar People like us.
Who are the Proud Boys, Dave wanted to know?
I’d looked them up. According to Wikipedia, they’re boys who are proud of being white, and also they don’t masturbate, in case that prevents them from getting off the sofa and going out to find a real woman.
Dave elected not to pursue.
Patriot Prayer is a right-wing group based in nearby Vancouver, Washington, where people from Portland go if they want to escape the tyranny of taxes and decent civilization. “Patriot Prayer” is one of those names you cook up if you want to rattle the opposition with otherwise inoffensive words. Like if I started a group called “Divine Uterus.”
We walked along the waterfront; I’d heard that was where the action was. There were blue flashing police lights in the distance. The closer we got, the more people seemed to be wearing outfits. Everyone gets an outfit! We were puzzled. Some of the people–all right, they were all men–were wearing American flags. Some of them had bandanas over their faces. Some had, what do you call them, flak jackets? Big puffy vests anyway–not at all slimming. Everyone was playing dress-up.
“I can’t tell who is who,” I told Dave. The folks who had cut up flags into clothing might appear to be our vaunted Praying Patriots, but maybe the flag was being worn ironically. There didn’t seem to be much violence in the air at this point, just a lot of milling about, although the Patriots had promised to come packing.
Per my query, a gentleman explained he was wearing a bullet-proof vest to protect him from the counter-demonstrators.
“Couldn’t you just stay home?”
Evidently not. They were here to demonstrate free speech, or something. I’m all for it. ACLU supporter and everything. Their little get-ups looked more like a provocation than protection but in either case that’s free speech too. I’m not sure why they’re worked up about it. We do have free speech. Could it be they think free speech means nobody is allowed to object to it?
The gentleman next to the large bullet-proof fellow was saying something about the state of our country that–I’m sorry, I know it’s not polite–made me laugh out loud at him. Kind of a lot. Also I may have blown a fart noise at him. Twice. Whereupon he loudly informed me that I’m in fucking denial.
“Language, son, language!”
I believe the inciting comment was “It was Obama who divided us, as soon as he got in.”
Huh. Well, he did flush out the bigots pretty fast, I’ll give him that.
But, sonny! Why get all het up about free speech and then spend it on profanity? Never mind. I have other questions.
Why call yourself Patriots and then turn around and desecrate the flag?
Do you have star-spangled underpants on too?
About that Prayer. Didst thou know thou art to enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly? Of course thou did. Everyone knowth that.
Isn’t this a beautiful day? Isn’t it nice to get out of the basement for a while? Did your mom pack you snacks? I hope your mom packed you snacks.
Dave began to steer me away. He is not a macho dude and has never, and would never, intervene in any fight I might want to pick. Unless he senses I’m in actual danger, which hasn’t happened yet. Nevertheless, he doesn’t care for my interest in picking fights with Nazis.
We walked a bit from the epicenter of things and only then discovered that all of the dressed-up boys were far-right types, and then there was a four-lane street with police in it, and then on the other side was the crowd of anti-fascists and Reg’lar People like us. It’s like the Revolutionary War. Everyone gets spruced up in their uniforms and colors, and then they stand in a line and face each other, and maybe there will be some blam-blam. It always seemed like a silly way to conduct a war, albeit orderly. When Dave and I came up on the backside of our merry Patriots, we were accidental guerrillas.
Anyway that was the whole problem. Here we were, just a little late for the ceremony, and there wasn’t an usher to direct us to the correct side of the aisle. Our friends were over there, and here we were with the batshit brigade. Oh, well. Do you, Dave, and you, Murr, promise to defend the Constitution and fight the forces of autocracy and hatred for as long as you both shall live?
Be careful out there. Sometimes the loonies can be dangerous and crowd mentality always makes me a bit edgy. Glad the "patriots" were good for a laugh, though.
I hear that. Somehow I'm drawn to these things. And in case you think I actually asked all these questions, no. I did laugh and make fart noises. I was busy admiring a young woman standing nearby who was engaging with the fellow in the top photo whilst recording him with her phone. She was staying very, very calm. I have, unfortunately, found that if I even begin, I soon escalate to hot red rage accompanied by persuasive argument such as "You fat dumb fuck."
I agree with Jono. These people do not care about free speech. They just care about the freedom to blow your head away if they disagree with you. Civilized debate with details on the issues just confuses the hell out of them.
I agree with both of you.
That's some batshit stuff you got goin on in your country there. Someone did predict another civil war to clean it all up, can't remember who, but it sounds like a damn fine idea. Muskets of course, not those AK thingies. Sporting chances, n all.
Honestly, I don't know how we've avoided mass rioting yet. I do know that the ultimate powers in this country actually want that to happen.
Nothing says Patriot better than a Yahoo wearing the flag as clothes.
Definitely dig the Michael Jackson touch on the shoulderpads, though.
I'm all for free speech but I'd never pick a fight with Nazis!!
…but I wouldn't WANT to pick a fight with anyone else…
These prayer types generally have no sense of humor, no ability to identify (let alone appreciate) irony, and generally see the world as only good guys (ironically, them) and everyone else as bad. The bad is seen as so bad as to justify violence. I agree with Jono, and also am relieved that you got out safely from that side of the street.
Well you have Dave to thank for that. Of course, if we'd been on the other side of the street, that's where we would've gotten hurt. The police got a little out of hand in that direction.
You must be braver than I am. My motto is always, "Don't poke the crazy." Glad you survived to write about it.
I truly didn't know exactly where I was. I assumed all the players would be in the same arena and I was just trying to figure out which crazy belonged where. Now I hope we didn't inadvertently augment the crowd count for the assholes!
Let me add my caution to that of the rest of your readers. There's no reasoning with some people, and the patriots group appears to be made up exclusively of those people. And there's no point in risking your life or any part of it to them either. What's that saying? . . . discretion is the better part of valour . . . Live to fight another day, in some other way!
I'm not much of a fighter. I do it here. Not that they're reading. It is a little frightening to me to discover how fast I can get my blood up when I listen to these guys. Kinda makes me realize what it would've been like to be a man, all testosteroney and all.
I hear you. That's why I try not to engage either in real life or online; my blood pressure can't take the white hot rage!
Ain't it just so? Even online can do it. Weird.
So it was a peaceful gathering with no actual hurting apart from a few feelings?
Well alright then. I'll be on my way. I'm headed to the ice cream shop, wanna come along?
Yeah, some hurts. Evidently caused by the police.
Oh, and yes ma'am to the second!
Too bad that ilk of crumbums came to your lovely town.
Interestingly, the fearless leader Joey Gibson was there on a campaign rally. Running for Senate in…Washington. I heard he got a whole 2.3% of the vote. They like coming here because it's supposedly a hotbed of liberalism. But we have a very racist heritage here in Oregon.
That last picture is damn frightening. Since there are women in that one, is this the Antifa crew? Dayum, they're all loony as hell.
As disturbing as that last picture is, the one that caused the little hairs on the back of my neck to prickle as they rose is the one with the short males, one of whom is wearing a Little League helmet. Who have we become?
Yup, think so, but it's not my photo. And, two, right?
“Could it be they think free speech means nobody is allowed to object to it?” That seems to be the crux of it. And the new Religious Freedom iniative the administration has created? Bet that means, “This is a Christian country and you’re free to become one or leave.” We’ve gone from saving the West from the fascists in one generation to perpetrating in the next. I despair of the gene pool.
I haven't heard of the Religious Freedom initiative. I do not have high hopes.
The Religious Freedom division of the justice department is modeled after "The Handmaid's Tale." Tell Dave we knew about the rally even here in far away North Carolina.
I am given to understand that Portland is now specifically a target for the far right, due to our being thought of as a Hotbed of Liberals. This reputation comes to us from shows like Portlandia and there's something to it, in that I can usually disparage Trump in front of complete strangers with impunity, but on the other hand, we've got ourselves a thoroughly racist history here and a lot of de facto segregation. Anyway, I guess we ain't seen the end of it. Next time I'll wear my pussy hat.
The dudes with the combo US-Confederate flags seemed to be confused about history. They seem to have missed the part about secession. Or maybe it's an unfamiliar concept to them.