Freedom Foundation

Call It ‘Selective Anarchy’ – Because in Portland, Only the Left Is Lawless

One day after a Trump supporter was shot and killed in downtown Portland by a man who claimed to be “100 percent ANTIFA all the way,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement blaming right-wing white supremacists for the bloodshed.

No mention was made of the so-called anti-fascist extremism fueling the now-deceased shooter, but that’s hardly surprising considering Brown and her colleagues are so desperate to appease the far-left that they’ll do anything even let their cities burn to give the impression it’s still about racial justice.

So when Attorney General William Barr designated Portland, New York and Seattle this week as “anarchist jurisdictions,” he got it partly right. There is anarchy.

But it’s much worse than that.

In reality, what we’re seeing is selective anarchy in which a group of 21st-century carpetbagging politicians have exploited both a global pandemic and a national tragedy to do what they’ve always wanted to ignore the law when it suits their ideology and impose an entirely different set of rules on everybody else.

If you ask them, mobs of crazed rioters who burn and loot Portland on a nightly basis don’t spread COVID-19, but social gatherings of more than 10 people do. Small business owners are fined tens of thousands of dollars for daring to reopen their shops, but rioters who break shop windows can walk away scot-free.

And yes, a white man claiming to be Antifa shot and killed another white man, but right-wing white supremacists are somehow responsible for that bloodshed, too.

It’s shameful to think that politicians in cities like Portland, Seattle and New York have co-opted a movement that, for some, was legitimately about racial justice and have instead turned it into a political chess match in which anybody calling for law and order is somehow pitted against the cause.

But that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Is anybody surprised, then, that the top legislative aide to Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek was arrested during the riots? What about the fact that she was set free without bail, or that Kotek defended her while ironically calling for “peace and accountability”?

They shouldn’t be.

After all, no amount of chaos and destruction is unjustified for those whose ideology is deemed “correct” in the eyes of the far left.

And no amount of tyranny is too much when imposed on those who think differently.

Consider the case of Glamour Salon, which was fined $14,000 in May for violating Gov. Brown’s lockdown edict. Or Slidewaters, the family-owned water park represented by my organization that was slapped with a $9,000 fine and forced to lay off 150 employees in July despite seeing no reported cases of COVID-19 while it was open.

For those touting the ideals of “peaceful protests,” ask yourself: what captures those ideals more perfectly than peacefully reopening a small business in protest of the government’s overreaching lockdown?

And aren’t the leaders of Portland, Seattle and New York the same ones singing the praises of protests in the first place?

Of course they are. And they’re not even stopping at peaceful. As Attorney General Barr correctly recognized this week, they’re willing to turn a blind eye to violence and allow their cities to descend into undisguised anarchist havens.

But here’s the thing – it’s not for everybody. In cities like Portland, lawlessness is only for the righteous left, not for the everyday Americans who desperately need to reopen their businesses to make a living. Sadly, they dare not defy the edicts of Brown, Inslee and Cuomo, lest the heavy hand of the law reach down and snatch away their livelihood altogether. Their right to peacefully protest has been stripped away.

Two sets of laws for two classes of Americans.

It’s happened before, of course including on the basis of race and such realities need not be ignored. But a different brand of injustice is still injustice.

In Portland, the sad reality is that anarchy has been allowed to flourish precisely because it’s selective. Like the COVID-19 pandemic, it has provided an opportunity for a select group of dictatorial politicians to show their true colors by imposing the law on some while letting others break it as long as it serves their political interests.

So yes, it is anarchy. But not pure anarchy.

At the end of the day, it might be closer to tyranny.