Our Opinion: Paper opposes violence on right, left
The Tribune covered the violent far-right vs. violent far-left protest in downtown Portland on Saturday, Aug. 17.
Since then, we have received queries about how we identify the activists on both sides, the observers and others involved.
Because the violence has rocked Portland several times over the past several years — and likely will again — we decided to address readers' comments.
The longstanding feud has involved violent factions of far-right groups including the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer. These groups have been linked to violent and racist rhetoric, and largely consist of people who don't live in Portland, but who perceive Portland as a sort of haven of liberalism; thus a good place to come and throw punches.
On the far-left side is a group of anti-fascist activists who go by the term "antifa." They often dress in all black, wear masks and their goal is to meet the far-right in Portland, with some seeking to get into violent confrontations. Much of the violence appears to be staged and calculated for each other's videographers; the objective being to get on YouTube and impress somebody.
Their form of protest has included vandalism and the smashing of downtown windows (though not at the Aug. 17 event, thankfully).
The Tribune denounces both violent factions wholeheartedly.
Other players in the protests are the nonviolent left and nonviolent right who come to the demonstrations with signs, or in costume, simply to speak out, often against racism and fascism.
We have praised those groups. Nonviolent protest is the most American of communications.
Some readers have misinterpreted our position on the so-called "antifa" to include everyone on the left in our condemnation. No. We condemn those who seek violence.
"But I'm anti-fascist," a few people have written in to say, or have said to our news staff. These are neighbors, friends, teachers and others. "If the newspaper is opposed to 'antifa,' and if 'antifa' is a portmanteau word for 'anti-fascist,' then you're writing about me?"
To be clear: No. We condemn only those who come to Portland streets — from the right or the left — with the strict goals of inciting violence and vandalism.
Moving forward, the newspaper will strive to be clearer on these issues. We rarely use the term "antifa" in articles, since it is a new term not widely understood by all readers. We will include the terms "violent right" and "violent left" in future stories about these issues.
We also make this declaration: It's time for the nonviolent right to condemn the violent right. It's time for the nonviolent left to condemn the violent left.
We have real and important political and social issues to deal with in our city, our state, our nation.
Those who seek to do so with their fists, or with thrown bricks, are the enemy of that discourse.
It's not enough to say, "The 'violent-other is at fault; the violent ones who agree with me ... well, who can blame them?'"
We do. Readers should, too.
We offer a full-throated condemnation of everyone who comes to Portland seeking violence and vandalism. We could agree with you on the issues 100%, and you'd still be 100% wrong to speak through violence.
There are great debates to be had on the topic of liberalism and conservatism; immigration and inclusion; human rights and civil rights.
There is no debate to be had about those who use violence as their voice.
They should get out and stay out.
Leave the city for those who truly want to debate the great topics of our times.
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