It is considered wrong, I am told, to tell someone else the right way to protest.
And there are a lot of ways.
People are pissed off. There are a lot of people who are so pissed off they wouldn’t recognize progress if it offered them a sandwich. They’ll string up a decent politician for something he said fifty years ago. They’ll howl for his hide if he offers them 60% of what they demand plus a soup kitchen to be named later. There are people getting off on such a perpetual state of blinding rage that their positions are frozen.
There are plenty of enraged people on the right, of course, the original home of black-and-white thinking, but they’re mirrored on the left by pious progressives who still, in 2020, claim we should vote for a unicorn because there isn’t any real difference between Democrats and Republicans. And also that anchovies and ham would be good on ice cream.
They come in all ages. A lot of the younger ones can keep a righteous boner going all night as long as they light something on fire. Around the corner here we have a graffiti gang busily scribbling over the landscape with the self-importance that comes with their rage and age. Some are particularly impressed with themselves. “Why refuse the mask? You’ve been wearing one your whole life,” scrawls one, with all the insight of a precocious ten-year-old. The Black United Fund building is routinely decorated with screeds against cops and landlords and capitalism and although the building has needed a paint job for decades, it’s also possible they could have squeezed out a few more scholarships for Black students if they didn’t have to pay for cleanup.
One must never tell someone else how to protest. So I am told. But you know what? Ham and anchovies would be really shitty on ice cream, and there are some really shitty ways to protest.
A really good way to protest is peacefully, persistently, and in huge numbers. Over and over. And that’s what’s been happening in Portland. That is the story here, or would be, if the sanctimonious late shift could be persuaded to confine their fireworks to Mommy’s trash can. And so, by the light of another pointless dumpster fire, an idea reared up in the darkest heart in the nation, and an anonymous paramilitary force was parachuted in to bang some heads and disappear some citizens, while much of the country was fed a fiction of friction in service of the great leader’s favorite narrative: his unique ability to solve problems he made up himself.
So, hell. We had been winding down, but of course we had to send in the Wall of Moms. And the Wall of Moms, like all great theater, got noticed: too much, maybe, deflecting attention away from the original message that Black Lives Matter. BLM protestors have rightly wondered where their white allies were in every march since before Ferguson, but now that white peple have shown up in droves, we’re in danger of taking over. It’s a fine line, and one we’ll never get just right. But here’s the thing. It had to happen. The wall of Dads with leaf blowers had to happen. The wall of veterans had to happen. Because we’ve got goons to deal with now, dominating a dab of downtown real estate at the corner of Tiananmen Square and Argentina. And they must be confronted, and so must the sad little coward who sent them. Because the truth is if he fucks this country any harder, he’ll have to send it hush money.
I haven’t joined the Wall of Moms, although the urge is strong. I’m still safeguarding my health. And after all, I can’t claim to be a Mom.
But maybe I can, after all. Maybe that’s a spark I still carry inside. Because I swear to God, the first thing I thought of when I saw the video of those cosplaying soldier-boys gassing and shooting and whacking my fellow Portlanders was this:
Don’t make me come down there.