by Bob Barr
There was a time when America’s big city mayors were real leaders. While few of them we so arrogant as to claim the title of “America’s Mayor” as did Rudy Giuliani, as a breed they exemplified the “take charge,” “get it done” attitude that voters respected and appreciated. Now, in the Snowflake Era that is seeing our country’s college campuses turn into adult day care centers, a number of elected mayors have transitioned to timid, “touchy-feely” office holders afraid to take bold action to protect their citizens and the institutions within their jurisdictions. Portland, Oregon’s Ted Wheeler personifies this new breed of Snowflake Mayors.
Wheeler’s timidity to respond to violence by Antifa thugs last weekend, sent conservative reporter Andy Ngo to the hospital with potentially permanent brain injury.
Not surprisingly, Antifa gangs in Portland, and in Berkeley, California and elsewhere, are responding to the fecklessness of officials like Wheeler, and are becoming increasingly bold and more violent in their activities. And why not? Law enforcement under the command of officials like Wheeler are ordered to stand aside, “exercise restraint,” and allow Antifa gangs to work their will; especially against conservative speakers and organizations.
Perhaps the only surprise in all this is that Wheeler appears so clueless about how the real world operates, that he was surprised by last weekend’s violence in the city he is supposed to lead. The Mayor turned to Twitter to express his surprise that “some” people disrespected Portland’s status as a “beacon of free speech,” when an Antifa gang beat up Ngo, who was simply covering events as a bona fide journalist.
Of course, there was nothing new or surprising about Antifa’s antics last weekend in Portland. These groups have a clear, and recent history of engaging in lawless and frequently violent behavior in that city and others, where police and elected leaders turn a blind eye to their activities.
There, in fact, are numerous examples of how Antifa thrives in such situations; like undisciplined teenagers taking full advantage of the “safe space” given to them by fearful parents. The problem is, we now are dealing not with individual families, but with major metropolitan areas in which elected leaders are in effect turning over the keys to their cities to organized groups of malicious, leftist thugs.
Two years ago, in Berkeley, California – a sister Snowflake City -- Antifa thugs caused an estimated $100,000 in property damage at the campus of the University of California because they objected to an appearance by a conservative speaker. Similar to Wheeler’s approach to mob violence in Portland, Berkeley’s police were told to stand down in face of the violence.
This “stand down” policy by left-wing mayors is not a phenomenon limited to cities on the west coast. During the Charlottesville, Virginia Alt-Right march in 2017, police were ordered by local officials to stand down; thereby allowing Antifa and march participants to battle on the streets, resulting in one death and several other injuries.
In spite of what should have been clear warning signs to Wheeler last weekend, he continued to approach Antifa demonstrations with the same, do-nothing strategy that has become his trademark. Obviously, to Wheeler -- and perhaps to a majority of the city’s voters -- it is more important to cultivate Portland’s image as a city with a gentle soul and a caring hand (at least for left-wing groups), than it is to uphold the rule of law and to protect the lives and health of citizens and visitors.
No tourist in their right mind would visit Portland today. Nor would any sane person think seriously of moving to a city where expressing conservative political or social views (or daring to don a “MAGA” hat) now is considered to be “asking for it.” Wheeler has, for all his blustering about Portland being a beacon for free speech, created a veritable war zone for anyone who does not toe the progressive line. Such an environment does not make for a friendly or healthy place to visit, or in which to live or run a business.
The Pansy of Portland can tweet all he wishes about what wonderful liberal ideals Portland stands for under his brand of leadership. But the reality is that Portland, like its sister Snowflake Cities, are cities that have been shorn of true leadership, and abandoned to lawlessness and violence.