Our Opinion: We can do without the Portland projection
Here in Washington County, we know that while we may be part of the Portland area — and while some of us may work, shop and dine out in Portland — we are not Portland.
These days, many of us find ourselves somewhat more eager than usual to remind our long-distance friends and relatives of that.
For the better part of the past three years, downtown Portland has periodically transformed into a stage for kabuki theater at its most obnoxious.
Far-right agitators — predominantly white, predominantly male, many of them from out of town — dress up in Fred Perry polo shirts, military-style fatigues, over-the-top "patriotic" attire and other makeshift costumes, arm themselves, and descend on Portland like locusts, looking for a fight.
Leftists — some of them self-identifying as "antifa," an abbreviated version of "anti-fascist" that has become an umbrella term for black-clad protesters and violent hooligans alike — have continually taken the bait, turning out to the streets to "defend" Portland from these hopped-up yahoos.
And in the middle, there's the Portland Police Bureau and its law enforcement allies. They've taken to using increasingly creative methods to simply try to keep the left- and right-wing scrappers away from each other. At one point, during the latest of these inane standoffs on Saturday, Aug. 17, Portland police pulled a classic switch-a-roo, keeping far-right marchers on the east and leftist counter-protesters on the west from crossing the Willamette River, then letting the right-wingers across one bridge and antifa across another, as the Willamette Week reported.
Thankfully, all this sound and fury, signifying nothing, hasn't yet resulted in a fatality on the streets of Portland when these play-soldiers from the left and the right manage to find one another. And of course, in spite of police's best efforts — which helped assure that Saturday's episode didn't turn into the bloodbath many feared — it's probably inevitable that eventually, if these melees continue, someone will die.
How many of us received a well-meaning call or message from a friend or family member this past weekend, just checking in to make sure we are safe?
Here in Washington County, it was as quiet a Saturday in August as one can expect. In Banks, festival-goers enjoyed the annual Banks BBQ and Truck & Tractor Pull. In Hillsboro, happy baseball fans watched the hometown Hops roll to another easy win. In Tigard, kids participated in a soccer camp at Cook Park.
Are we safe? We should hope so.
Look, it's nice of people to ask. But it's frustrating that they should have to worry at all.
The violent crime rate in Portland is among the lowest of all major cities in the United States. Yet the prevailing national image of Portland is of a protracted brawl between liberals and conservatives. Portland, long known as a bastion of left-wing politics, has become shorthand in many conservative circles for lawless antifa violence. For some left-wingers, it's become a cause célèbre, a call to arms against creeping fascism wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and brandishing tiki torches.
To us, Portland is that city to the east where it's too expensive to live, traffic is really bad and there's never enough parking. And while we may live in varying degrees of proximity to Portland, spending varying amounts of our time there, and with varying opinions on whether it's still a hip place to be or it's devolved into an unattractive self-parody, we are not Portland.
What a thing, then: Portland is saddled with an unattractive national image, and by dint of our geographic placement within a few dozen miles or so of Portland, our loving aunts, uncles and cousins, our college roommates, and our online friends now picture us living in this dystopian nightmare of pointless street fighting between ridiculously self-
important partisans who think hitting each other with flagpoles and hammers is their brave and bold contribution to saving America. And meanwhile, we're out here, hopefully managing to afford our mortgage payments, averaging a sweet 28 miles per hour on our very reasonable commutes, and actually finding free two-hour parking spots in downtown Hillsboro and Forest Grove.
Yes, thank you, we're fine.
We just wish our neighbors would get their act together. Blame the out-of-staters if it makes you feel better, Portland, but you're making all the rest of us look bad. And you're making Aunt Judy worry for nothing.
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