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The notable exceptions

Portland peace demonstration
Portland peace demonstration

Doesn’t take but a few people to miscast the larger number. In Idaho, the Aryan Nations never attracted but a handful of members, yet the entire state wound up besmirched by it. And so, apparently, with last weekend’s peace march in Portland.

We follow up here because our report from last Sunday, when we watched the demonstration, reported nothing of the incidents now making the rounds on (mainly conservative) cable talk shows. What we saw seemed almost institutional.

Several linked to this description from an editorial in the Portland Tribune: “This splinter group of protesters showed its support for “peace” by burning a U.S. soldier in effigy. It exhibited its supposedly pacifist nature by knocking a police officer off his bike — an action that brought out the police riot squad. Perhaps the most disturbing scene of the afternoon, however, involved the man who pulled down his pants in front of women and children and defecated on a burning U.S. flag.”

Not defensible (we’re disgusted by this, just to be clear), and hardly anyone has tried to defend it. It has also provided ammunition for flame-throwers from the right; Michelle Malkin, for example, snapped: “A few fringe actors? Not.”

She’s wrong: We were there, and while we don’t particularly doubt the accurate reporting of the incidents (we’d be interested in seeing more substantiation, though, than we have so far), they were sufficiently isolated and small in scale that we saw nothing like them in a half hour-plus of watching the march from a variety of angles. Out of somewhere in excess of 10,000 people involved, the objectionable actions came on the part of between a dozen and two dozen people.

Since the Portland Tribune editorial has gotten so much national attention, perhaps we should look as well at the online comments it has received. Some were from march supporters (one, noting how damaging the images were asked, “It makes you wonder who paid them to do this”). A slug of others were critical of the protesters – not just the extremists but the marchers, and anti-war Americans, generally. But to say “critical” of many of these comments doesn’t nearly cover it. Some samples from the comments:

“. . . we all know what the ‘peace’ movement is all about– hating America, and taking sides with anyone against us. . . . . a front group for marxist/communists (yes they are still around) and which is funded by North Korea and George Soros . . . It is time to cleanse our nation of this scum.Let’s take ’em on! NOW! . . . 2007 Portland has more animals than the 1800’s fur trade! . . . They are all traitors, cowards and/or perverts. . . . these leftist brownshirts are something far less than human. . . . Imagine admitting that you are a leftist. I’d rather die. . . . I dare any of those fools to try some retarded stunt like that in front of Rolling Thunder. Come on, MAKE MY DAY! . . . They were commie traitors then, and they still are. The only thing that has changed is the level of hatred. This time, I fear these nutcases (and most of them are) are going to reach too far, and when they do, someone is going to react. Can you say ‘civil war’? . . . What most left wingers dont realize, this behaviour is what their ideology breeds, this is the result of the anti-Americanism taught by the left: total anarchy. . . . The Democrat party is home to all manner of people who hate the US. It is the one legitimate vehicle available to those who want to see the US in ashes. . . .”

A question, then, for Michelle Malkin and others of her persuasion:

Should we take these calls for “cleansing” of “far less than human” traitorous opponents of the war, who “want to see the US in ashes” – that is, the majority nationally at this point – as typical of pro-war conservatives?

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  1. Chuck Butcher Chuck Butcher March 24, 2007

    Considering that is their agenda in Iraq, etc, yes. Is it fair? If you think there’s a difference between burning a flag and strapping a human on a board and “drowning” him, yes. If there’s a difference between a handful of idiots and the full force of the US military and government, yes it’s fair.

    I understand the device you’re using Randy, I’d agree with its usage, generally, but in this case I think you invited some rather invidious comparisons.

  2. Bubblehead Bubblehead March 25, 2007

    You’d like a little more “substantiation”? How’s this? ( ). (For those who don’t like to visit links from comments, it’s the video of the protesters burning the effigy of the soldier.)

  3. Randy Stapilus Randy Stapilus Post author | March 26, 2007

    Bubblehead –

    Thanks for the link – just what I was looking for.
    Sometimes descriptions of these kinds of events becomes exaggerated or inaccurate – hence the note of caution. But this incident looks solidly substantiated here.

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