Beating the War Drums

A coalition between the Democratic Party and left-wing militants is coming into view, manifesting as a combined arms approach of state and non-state actors working to suppress political dissent. It is paradoxically authoritarian and anti-establishmentarian, using law enforcement bureaus to effect their designs while simultaneously placing officers and agents in harm’s way.

When Democrats sought to ram their green dreams down the throats of Oregonians in the form of a thoroughly unpopular cap-and-trade scheme, state Republicans quaintly argued for the matter to be placed on a ballot. Sensing that the masses lack the refined palate to swallow their poison pill willingly, Democrats bucked democracy and talks broke down. Minority Republicans had one option: Run.

“Democrats have a supermajority in Oregon,” writes columnist Reis Thebault, “allowing them the rare opportunity to pass the legislation of their dreams—but without Republicans, they can’t achieve a quorum. No quorum, no vote.” It was either run or allow Democrats to create what has manifested as a government slush fund elsewhere, one that would come at the expense of everyday Oregonians. 

Before vanishing across state lines, Brian Boquist, a Republican state senator and retired special forces officer, warned Governor Kate Brown that should she authorize state police to come after him, they should “send bachelors and come heavily armed.” 

Boquist is gruff to the modern ear, perhaps, but his rhetoric pales in comparison to the political tough talk of yesteryear. “Every normal man must be tempted, at times,” wrote H. L. Mencken, “to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

Because the state constitution does not specify who can order the state police to round up fleet-footed lawmakers, or even if they may, Boquist is now seeking a judicial ruling on the matter in a lawsuit complaining that the “use of power by the police state to seize political prisoners (is) reminiscent of fascist Germany and Italy, and communist Soviet Union.”

Suppressing Patriot Prayer

On a more pedestrian level, Portland’s peacekeepers, with the help of the U.S. Marshals, have arrested several members of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group that has denounced white nationalists and supremacists—not that it matters. The head of the group, Joey Gibson, now faces felony riot charges for his involvement in a brawl with Antifa in May. Gibson points out that none of his assailants are facing charges, nor have there been any arrests in connection to the attack on journalist Andy Ngo two months on.

If California’s present is the demographic future of the United States, then Portland, Oregon, offers a glimpse into our totalitarian political future.

Ahead of the “End Domestic Terrorism” rally organized by right-wing groups calling for government action against Antifa, Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler considered asking Oregon’s governor to deploy the National Guard. He settled for having the FBI and Oregon State Police assist his officers. No such hammer was ever brought down against Antifa when they besieged a government facility and plunged the surrounding community into anarchy for a month.

I spoke to Enrique Tarrio, the leader and chairman of the Proud Boys, who helped organize the event. Formerly led by Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys are known for mixing it up with Antifa and staging rallies in deep blue territory. Tarrio, born to a Cuban family in Little Havana, said that though some local law enforcement agencies have maligned the Proud Boys as an “extremist group,” FBI officials have confirmed they are not considered such by the federal government.

Tarrio told me he was in constant contact with a Portland police liaison for a month before the event. But in the days before the rally, police claimed they had no contact with organizers. Tarrio’s police liaison claimed she had no idea why her superiors feigned ignorance and said she got the run around for bringing it up. “Antifa,” one officer told Tarrio, “has their hands in everything.”

Antifa smuggled in concrete slabs to break up and hurl at the Patriot Prayer supporters. Black-clad thugs encircled, threatened, and chased rally-goers. Portland police arrested nearly a dozen left-wing militants, a small victory that rally organizers attributed to media attention and a tweet by President Trump: “Portland is being watched very closely.” 

Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Red Flags

The fact is Wheeler deployed local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies with the Right, not the Left, in mind. The case of Shane Kohfield, though extreme, helps to illustrate that point.

Kohfield is a combat veteran. He deployed twice to Iraq as a Marine infantry machine-gunner. His time on the fighting line left him with post-traumatic stress and a traumatic brain injury. He took up the paintbrush to rehabilitate his mind and body; but now Kohfield appears to have found a cause that could lead him to pick up a rifle once more. 

If Antifa gets to the point where they start killing us, I’m going to kill them next,” said the former Marine. “I’d slaughter them and I have a detailed plan on how I would wipe out Antifa.” (Emphasis mine.)

Kohfield, of course, had heard about the leniency of Wheeler’s officers toward Antifa. He had read the story about Ngo’s savage beating. He had watched a legion of media and political personalities downplay or defend Antifa’s violence. “I figured that the key to de-escalating the situation was to not be the most violent person in the room,” he said. “It was to be the scariest person in the room.”

The FBI became aware of Kohfield’s attempt to be scary after he sent a letter to Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas). In it, Kohfield warned that unless the government puts an end to Antifa’s Wheeler-approved reign of terror, he and other veterans would have to commit “genocide” against Antifa. Subsequently Kohfield was disarmed after police served him with an extreme risk protection order under Oregon’s red flag law

Kohfield went quietly and allowed himself to be hospitalized, saying that he never planned to hurt anyone. “I looked unhinged. I looked dangerous and have the training to be dangerous,” he conceded. 

The Coming Crackdown

Let us say Crenshaw did the right thing in handing over Kohfield’s (admittedly poorly phrased and frightening) letter to the FBI. Why not also speak to the genuine problems that pushed a fellow combat veteran to feel compelled to contemplate defending himself in a violent way? Though Kohfield certainly did not express himself with grace or care, his outrage at the developments in Oregon are not the stuff of fever dreams or of a diagnosed schizophrenic. He is responding (badly) to actual events on the ground that should alarm all people, even people who are more careful with their words. This is the reality for everyday Oregonians living beneath the heel of something between anarchy and tyranny.

Perhaps Crenshaw, like a great many establishment Republicans, really does not care about the plight of Oregonians or that of a former combat veteran like himself. Perhaps he is more concerned with the serious business of political navel-gazing than with lending a helping hand to the desperate and downtrodden. Worse, Crenshaw appears at every turn to buy into the lie that there is an ascendant white nationalist threat, a lie that will and already does serve as a pretense for crackdown on the Right. 

While Crenshaw and his colleagues in the Stupid Party remain comfortably inert, Democrats from coast to coast are cheering on their militants, fundraising for them, and justifying their violent operations. 

Places like Oregon and California are ground zero in this coming confrontation. If California’s present is the demographic future of the United States, then Portland, Oregon, offers a glimpse into our totalitarian political future. 

Seeing as there are few consequences but many supporters and media spots to be had, the Left will only become more violent as it showboats on these issues. The fringes of the Right, up against this lawless non-response, are likely to harden in their view that bullets can achieve what ballots cannot, as the “respectable” Right continues to ignore or join in the leftist denunciations of their concerns. Every lashing out from these elements on the Right will then be used justify tightening the noose around our collective necks. 

War is coming to the Right, like it or not, and so far as we have seen our political leadership is unequipped for the fight. 

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About Pedro Gonzalez

Pedro Gonzalez is associate editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture and an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He publishes the weekly Contra newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @emeriticus.

Photo: Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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