Portland and the Evolution of Mob Rule

Imagine that you are an alien.  You have just touched down on Planet Earth, and you are eager to familiarize yourself with Portland, Oregon.  Why Portland?  It doesn't matter.

You check out Portlandia, the sketch comedy television series, starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.  The show portrays the city as a bastion of liberal culture, a utopian metropolis where the woke sip soy lattes and smoke copious amounts of weed.  Portland, according to the show, is a mecca for peace-loving hippies, a place where inhabitants have a Panglossian view of the world. 

You, the alien, arrive there only to find chaos.  Portland is not a mecca for peace loving hippies; it is a mecca for intolerance and violence.  It's a city where mob rule reigns supreme.  The City of Roses doesn't smell so sweet.  You try to escape, but your spaceship has been vandalized by mask-wearing thugs. “Damn you, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein,” you scream.

How did Portland, roughly the size of Kansas City, become ground zero for Mad Max–type warfare, a place where woke vigilantes appear to run the show?

The recent attack on Andy Ngo highlighted the power that mob groups, especially Antifa, currently hold in the city.  Although the thugs who attacked the Quillette editor and photojournalist did not quite manage to crack his skull, they did manage to induce a brain hemorrhage that resulted in hospitalization.  The irony here is that just before the group attacked Ngo, its members chanted, “No hate! No fear!”  Obviously, Antifa group members struggle with the concept of irony.

However, they don't struggle with the concept of violence.  When ideologically driven people come together, armed with weapons and agendas, violent outcomes are to be expected.  

Gustave Le Bon, a French polymath and influential figure in the field of social psychology, held that crowds existed in three stages: submergence, contagion, and suggestion.  During submergence, the individuals in the crowd lose their sense of individual self and personal responsibility.  This is quite heavily induced by the anonymity of the crowd.  Contagion refers to the propensity for individuals in a crowd to unquestioningly follow the predominant ideas and emotions of the crowd.  Interestingly, in Le Bon's view, this effect is capable of spreading between "submerged" individuals, much like a disease.  Suggestion refers to the period in which the ideas and emotions of the crowd are primarily drawn from a shared unconscious.  This behavior, which arises from a sort of latent desire, is uncivilized in nature.

Uncivilized in nature.  Is there a better description to sum up recent events in Portland?

Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, is the overseer of the uncivilized.  A fierce Trump critic, Wheeler appears to be an Antifa sympathizer.  After all, he has politicized the police force.  Shortly after the attack on Ngo, Portland Police chief Danielle Outlaw held a 20-minute press conference to defend her officers.  She made a passionate plea for policy changes.  When asked why officers were so slow to intervene in the Ngo attack, she seemed to imply that their hands were tied.  U.S. senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) criticized Wheeler with a tweet that said, "To federal law enforcement: investigate & bring legal action against a Mayor who has, for political reasons, ordered his police officers to let citizens be attacked by domestic terrorists."

This is not the first time Wheeler has appeared to side with thugs.  In 2018, he came under fire over a viral video showing Antifa protesters blocking traffic and harassing drivers.  Wheeler ordered police to watch from a distance without getting involved.

"I was appalled by what I saw in the video, but I support the Portland Police Bureau's decision not to intervene," he said.  Imagine if Proud Boy members were blocking traffic and harassing drivers.  Would Wheeler have ordered the police to stand back and watch from a distance?  One assumes not.

The video, which was posted by Ngo, showed protesters, including members of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, blocking an intersection and attempting to direct traffic at while officers on motorcycle watched from a block away.

At one point, the activists chased down 74-year-old Kent Houser after he made a right turn against their wishes.  The group pounded on his silver Lexus, breaking a window in the process.  That very same day, Mr. Wheeler insisted that "motorists should feel completely safe" coming into downtown Portland.  All motorists, Mr. Wheeler, or just the ones who conform to rigid ideologies?

You are probably familiar with the concept of trickle-down economics.  But what about trickle-down ideologies?

This works when those in power with an agenda turn a blind eye to grave injustices.  This abdication of responsibility trickles down, resulting in vigilante justice and the dissemination of highly subjective narratives.

Earlier this year, Ngo (there's a pattern here) carried out a brilliant bit of investigative journalism.

In the Portland area alone, according to Ngo, trans and LGBT activists have incited a panic with reports of attacks on LGBTQ individuals.  However, when investigated, the details gathered by police differed dramatically from what was disclosed in viral social media posts.  Ngo found that many of the alleged attacks never occurred.

Take the February 10 "attack" on Sophia Gabrielle Stanford, for example.  She launched a GoFundMe page, describing herself as the victim of a "brutal and aggressively blatant hate crime."  She claimed that unidentified assailants had "beaten her unconscious with a bat."  The GoFundMe page stated that Stanford had suffered a "serious concussion" and would need "intensive physical therapy, CT scans and counseling."

According to Ngo's piece in the N.Y. Post:

In the early hours of Sunday, Feb. 10, emergency services received a call about a woman, identified as Stanford, found on a sidewalk with scrapes on her face and knuckles, claiming that she may have been assaulted.  The responding officer, Edgar Mitchell, noted that Stanford smelled of alcohol.

"I asked [Officer Zachary Roe] what happened," the report states.  "Roe said the individual admitted to being intoxicated, and Roe believed the person fell and hit her head."

Stanford either could not or would not state her name to the police. The responding officer was unable to discover Stanford's name and claims that she made a threat: "If you don't treat me right, my people will get you," she said, according to the report[.]

When Ngo reached out to Stanford, she ignored him, blocking the journalist across social media.  In the weeks after Stanford's story went viral, as Ngo notes, a number of "hate crimes" were reported across Portland.  This inspired a panic in the city's sizable LGBTQ community.  As a result, training workshops were organized.  Attendees were taught "how to spot a fascist."  Hmmm...white, male, short hair, and privileged-looking, I assume.

No assailants were ever positively identified.  Is this really surprising?  As the Mercury reported, "survivors" declined to talk to the media about the alleged assaults.  Why?  If you were the victim of a vicious hate crime, wouldn't you want justice?

As I have reported before, hate crimes are nowhere near as rampant as many media outlets would have us believe.  However, false narratives are.

But try telling this to Ted Wheeler, an advocate of diversity, equity, and inclusion "training."  He was quick to side with the "survivors," stating that he was "deeply saddened" to hear about acts of reported violence.  "We know this is not new.  We know these things happen all the time.  As the mayor of this community, I'm aware of these issues and take them very seriously," he said.  As Ngo demonstrated, many of the supposed attacks never actually occurred.  In Portland, however, facts matter not one iota.

As Auberon Herbert once said, "liberty means refusing to allow some men to use the state to compel other men to serve their interests or opinion."  One wonders what Herbert would have to say about Mr. Wheeler, a man who has politicized the local police force and allows Antifa members to run riot, to wear masks, and to assault journalists.

This is a man who, by refusing to take action, is enabling extreme anonymity and zero accountability.  Portland is a city in disarray, and Ted Wheeler is largely to blame.

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