The nation’s attention these past two weeks has focused nearly exclusively on Kabul, and rightly so given that the city has become the scene of the largest hostage situation in American history and a vivid image of the decline of Pax Americana abroad.
But Americans don’t need to travel 7,500 miles to get a first-hand glimpse of the end of American order. In many of our own country’s major cities, gangs of masked thugs and criminals do what they please — and our far-better-armed police aren’t allowed to stop them and protect the rest of us.
Take one August Sunday in Portland, Oregon, where two days ago political gangs roamed freely, beating people, including women, and even opening fire downtown. Meanwhile the police, who have been threatened with government action if they intervene, were nowhere to be seen.
The breakdown of law and order was crafted in the offices of politicians, and its results are as immediate as they are sickening: A beautiful port city is now a frequent host to pitched battles between masked and helmeted left- and right-wing mobs spanning across city blocks; paintballs, pepper spray, fireworks, and beatings in broad daylight; and while innocent civilians flee the violence under a cloudy gray sky, the only sounds audible are of rioting — with nary a police siren in the distance.
VIDEO THREAD (content warning – violence) Today Proud Boys and other right-wing groups fought black-bloc-clad counter-protesters Sunday afternoon outside their "Summer of Love" rally in Portland, Oregon.
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) August 23, 2021
It’s long not been safe to be a reporter in Portland: Just Sunday, Antifa targeted independent journalist and photographer Maranie Staab. “You f-cking endangered people by flying to f-cking Colombia and endangering everyone by opening them up to COVID, you little slut,” one masked and armored man screamed at Staab, referring to her June reporting on violence in South America.
Minutes later, Antifa members pepper-sprayed her, knocked her to the ground, and reportedly broke her phone and damaged her camera, yelling, “How many times do we have to f-cking tell you?”
After other reporters moved her away from the mob and helped her wash out her eyes and mouth, an Antifa member sprayed them (and their cameras) with more paint. Once again, police were nowhere to be seen or even heard.
Yesterday I attacked by “antifascist” protesters in blackbloc.
To threaten & assault members of the Press is not anti-fascist behavior.
⁰⁰To do so under the guise of social justice is a disgrace.
To do so anonymously & from behind is pure cowardice.
— Maranie R. Staab (@MaranieRae) August 23, 2021
That same day, during riots and demonstrations downtown, a man opened fire on Antifa members, who reportedly fired back. Police were nowhere to be heard or seen, though they arrested the man minutes later.
Man with handgun opening fire now pic.twitter.com/tkN3Wf5g0w
— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) August 23, 2021
Around the 16 second mark, you can briefly see the at-large antifa shooter. This is part of the shootout that happened in downtown Portland on 22 Aug. Antifa say they went to save black children from a white man who talked about lynchings. pic.twitter.com/4kB5v7zGiV
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 23, 2021
So where are the police, exactly? Law and order has slowly, and then rapidly, broken down in Portland for years, with images of besieged courthouses, lawless “autonomous zones,” open drugs and violent crime, and roving, organized mobs hitting honest newspapers across the United States nearly every week. Indeed, Sunday’s festivities were organized to celebrate a violent clash that had taken place the year before.
Amid it all, local and national politicians have repeatedly attacked and undermined the men and women who maintain order at great personal risk, cutting the police budget by millions and threatening further cuts along the way.
Then on July 19, the governor signed a new law that opened police officers using non-lethal, anti-mob force to personal prosecution. This, independent journalist Andy Ngo reports, was “the final nail for an effective permanent police stand down.”
Sources tell me the final nail for an effective permanent police stand down was when Oregon Dems passed a law banning most use of crowd control tools. Officers who violate Bill 2928 can be criminally prosecuted. It was passed in support of the BLM-Antifa riots last year. pic.twitter.com/8CyXtqodlN
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 24, 2021
Therein lies an interesting connection to the most recent disaster we’ve been watching abroad: In Portland, city leaders demand say their refusal to back their own police or enforce their own laws “is a national problem that demands national resources,” adding that “the idea that Portland, or any city, can single handedly defeat white nationalism is a fallacy.” Across the country in Washington, White House leaders pretend 10-15,000 stranded Americans, a captured military base, hijacked American equipment in enemy hands, and outnumbered soldiers and Marines in a civilian airport surrounded by the Taliban is just what all withdrawals look like.
All of this is completely false, of course — both these crises, in their immediate senses, have been created by the foolish decisions of the people directly in charge of them. We don’t need a time traveler from 2010 to teach us how to maintain peace in our cities, just as we don’t need Alexander the Great to teach us to remove civilians and equipment before the military departs and to hold bases until they aren’t needed anymore.
Our country here and abroad is held captive by radical and lying politicians unwilling to tell the truth or face it. Drive into your closest major city anywhere in the country and there’s a good chance it’s gotten a lot worse than it was just a few years ago. Look at any foreign paper and see that our word is worth a lot less than it was just a few weeks ago.
Neither of these is, or were, inevitable: They are the conscious decisions of a country in decline. We don’t have much time to put things right, but we know what we have to do to fix these things; the answers aren’t arcane. It already might be too late, but it’s worth the fight.