My friend Tom Sundaram reports from Portland

Tom is rather more to the right than I am these days. We are both committed Catholics though, as well as people who love our country. And he, like me, is scared not of the Antifa bogeyman, but of the lawless authoritarian thugs who occupy the White House and who have turned DHS, ICE, and the Border Patrol into stormtroopers and Keystone Gestapo in Trump’s war on the American people. Tom writes:

To all the people asking us if we are okay here in Portland, a general info post:

We personally are fine. We do not live downtown, where most of the protests are happening and where so far all the action has occurred, if you don’t count the absolutely insane fireworks frenzy on the 4th of July. We have not been downtown since the pandemic began, and have no plans to be downtown. For those who do not know, Portland is a lot bigger than the part of Portland you see in Portlandia, and basically everywhere outside of the Pearl district and a short distance from the river eastward has been more or less untouched by the protests. The area of my office is a place where protests have been centered and tear gas has been fired, Laurelhurst, but there has been surprisingly little property damage that I have seen, the park where the protest took place is as beautiful as always, and the graffiti level does not seem very noticeable. Mostly, information has been put out in chalk and hung signs.

As for the protests, we know people who have been there, personally, and we know people who oppose the protests, personally, all of them local to Portland; on balance, though, all firsthand information I have seen of any kind from anyone has indicated that, apart from minor instances of vandalism and a few broken windows, the protests have been principally and mainly peaceful. The federal building that was attacked, and which seems to be the only building many people know of in the city at this point, was attacked in response to the recent arrival of our unwelcome guests from the federal government, and this did involve a certain amount of provocation from said guests, who professed to be here because of earlier damage that was never substantiated to my mind.

As for our concern about the situation, I am personally scared. I am not scared of the protesters. It seems to have escaped the notice of a good chunk of the country that unidentified men in military uniforms, who may or may not be Federal officers but could just as well be random people in uniform because they do not identify themselves, have been throwing people into vans, taking them to Federal buildings, and revealing that they do not have probable cause by their entire behavior afterwards. They have held people for questioning without charges, which is not only illegal according to Oregon state law, it is contrary to the stated will of the Oregon state government, who has to delegate authority to enforce State law, making this a federal constitutional crisis regarding the sovereignty of these United States themselves.

I want to make it very clear that this is a lot scarier to me than anything that could happen to any statue, even were it a statue of one of my family members.

I’m going to say this very bluntly.

Unidentified men with military hardware and weapons in uniforms are exercising arrests contrary to the Constitution. They refuse to provide their names despite the fact that American soldiers operating in foreign countries prominently display their names even as they operate among terrorist organizations. The American citizen is being denied the exercise of their rights in a way that is not denied to actual members of ISIS.

This is in clear violation of your and our Fourth Amendment rights, on people who happened to be in the area when they claim to witness a crime being committed whether or not it is in fact a crime, in violation of both state law and the actual stated desires of the state government. The Supreme Court has made it clear that this does not rise to the level of probable cause in any jurisdiction.

They are detaining innocent people without probable cause without ever providing an explanation, and this is not only contrary to our civil rights, but to the natural law written in the hearts of man by God. It is contrary to the American founding, the memory of which the federal government has the audacity to claim it is trying to protect.

The Founding Fathers argued against the unlawful quartering of troops by a government without jurisdiction against the sovereignty of the local government. Military troops are here claiming to enforce State law, unlawfully in both authority and method, and in so doing, violating the constitutional rights held by every American citizen.

The President has stated his desire to see them sent to other states where protests are taking place. Protests are taking place nationwide.

Everyone is asking us how we are doing out of love and I appreciate that profoundly; that concern is not something that I take lightly. But this clearly comes from the sentiment that we should be afraid of the protests. I am not afraid of the protests. The protests were peaceful until the feds showed up. They remain so for the most part, but peace is the presence of justice. These uninvited, unidentified, unwelcome, law-breaking kidnappers operating despite the explicit lack of a mandate to enforce State law remove the presence of justice from our state by their very presence.

Next week they’ll be in yours.

I have never feared for my country as I fear for her now. I believe prudence requires that every person committed to justice, the rule of law, and the survival of ordered liberty in the United States needs to start thinking and preparing now for the likelihood that Trump will try to either prevent the election or overturn its results, with the cooperation of his criminal party and the MAGA cult of vigilante goons. He is already showing that he is willing to use his Praetorian Guard to attack Americans. He has overturned legitimate convictions of criminals. We are only a nudge away from some kind of phony Enabling Act or Emergency Decree, as well as arrests of his enemies.

And the Cult, which days ago was declaring masks an assault on their freedom, thinks beating, gassing, and rounding up innocents and disappearing them is awesome.

We cannot give in to violence because that is exactly the excuse Trump is hoping to foment in order to order a crackdown on his enemies. I am hopeful the military will continue to resist his attempts to use them against us. But he now has a Praetorian Guard loyal to him, not the Constitution, and they are already making war on test targets to see what they can get away with. The testing has an end: war on the American people under the oldest excuse in the book: Order. Trump understands what Goering understood:

“[I]t is the leaders of a country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or fascist dictorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace makers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

This flag-hugging con man is transparently acting out that playbook. It is up to us to not be part of the 30% of the electorate who fall for that stupidity with that unlearning incomprehension of the fish who still bite worms on hooks 300,000 years after the invention of fishing.

We have to be smarter. We have to fight smarter. We have to resist and not tire and not let our sadness, fear, and fury at this guy let him dictate our reactions. Portland is showing us some of that creativity. Peaceful moms with sunflowers and hands in the air are as humiliating to this criminal and his goons as this guy was to the PRC:

Tank Man - Wikipedia

When this fascist cult beats and gasses peaceful vets

And when those vets respond with non-violence and calm appeals to reason…

…Trump and his Keystone Gestapo fail. Because they cannot gin up the excuses for seizure of power they need.

This, and prayer, are the weapons of our warfare.

We are at war. Fight.

Fight with love. Fight for love. Fight this nihilist predator by offering your body a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual worship. Fight lies with truth. Fight injustice with justice. Fight mercilessness with forgiveness. Fight fear with courage. Fight despair with hope.



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39 Responses

  1. Secret Police Forces of the Ministry of the Interior. That’ll show them commies what freedom means.

  2. For anyone doubting:

    Snopes lays out all the evidence they have so far. Looks like “kidnapping” isn’t technically true (that we know of), the bit about unmarked vehicles is true, and the part about green army men not identifying themselves is in dispute, but Mark Pettibone’s account (the main story making the rounds) seems to be more or less substantiated.

    Oregon Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit against Homeland Security and the Oregon DOJ’s Criminal Justice Division is opening an investigation.

    1. Thanks for sharing those! I think of “kidnapping” as one of those words, like intimidation and robbery, that has a legal definition and a widely-understood moral definition – unjustly grabbing someone, restraining them, and carting them off against their will.

      I think it’s valuable to use the colloquial/moral term in reference to law enforcement grabbing up whomever they’d like and taking them wherever they’d like, with no explanation or probable cause, evidenced by the fact that they just catch & release. It’s an act with no purpose but to control and terrorize the victim and anybody who witnesses it, and it’s morally indistinguishable from a non-law-enforcement officer doing the same thing (which we would all easily recognize as being kidnapped). But it’s also important to remember that doesn’t mean they can/should be charged with kidnapping in particular.

      This whole situation is deeply terrifying. A transparent decision by the president to militarily occupy any cities that broadly oppose him. I know they’re heading for Chicago, and they just landed in Seattle unannounced last night, hours after DHS Acting Secretary explicitly told their mayor he had no intention & saw no reason to deploy there.

      I’m just waiting for our next Kent State massacre. If it doesn’t happen in (majorly white) Portland or Seattle, it surely will in Chicago, which conservatives are already trained to view as a war zone.

      1. @ dove truffle. There are legal procedures they are supposed to follow, but they are not. Whether they are charged with kidnapping, or some other crime related to their failure to follow the law, is the question.

  3. Saith Snopes:

    To recap, it’s accurate to state Trump was responsible for the deployment of federal officers in Portland, and those agents were involved in at least two documented cases in which people were detained via unmarked vehicles (Pettibone’s experience and the viral video). However, we could not prove — nor disapprove [sic] — whether the officers in those cases had detained the suspects without telling the suspects what federal agency they represented. One federal unit, the CBP [Customs and Border Patrol], pushed back against allegations that its officers were not clearly presenting themselves.

  4. My son, his fiancee, and their friends have been peacefully protesting in Portland where they live and work. My son has a history degree. He read the “Great Books” at his conservative Catholic college. (When Mark Shea came to Portland to give a talk on Mary, Mother of God, he biked from work to go hear his talk). I think his fiancee has an English degree. They are both professionals and artists who constantly have their noses buried in books. Such beautiful young people! They hope to have a baby soon. Their favorite hobby is to take long bike rides in nature. They do things like hosting “board game night” with their friends who are teachers, doctors, artists. They all cook together from time to time, some bringing produce from their own gardens to share.

    Sounds dangerous, eh?

    On Wednesday the 15th of July, our son sent us (Mom, Dad, and oldest five kids) this jarring message on our group chat, where we usually share nature shots, birthday greetings, jokes, memes, house projects, culinary creations, pets…

    “So much for the 4th amendment. The feds are disappearing unarmed protesters up here. Neither the mayor or governor want these unmarked federal troops here. Just red meat for the Maga cult and their imaginary war on “ANTIFA”
    Absolute MADNESS.

    1. Sometimes, they take a few minutes to show up, especially if they are longer. WordPress doesn’t work like disgusted, where the comment is posted immediately all of the time.

  5. I cheer on this pro-life President, the pro-life bishops and clergy and all their supporters (like the Little Sisters of the Poor) who are all backing him, this President who is blatantly attempting to trigger a Kristallnacht.

    Remember Operation Jade Helm? when the Obama Government was trying to take over Texas”, and that half of all Tea Party supporters are concerned with an imminent Texas invasion ?
    Now, of course, it’s Obama government who is doing this in Portland. Christains have to elect prolife Republicans to stop it

    Remember death panels ? In Texas where overfull ICU’s having to triage COVID running who gets admitted?
    – Of course all because of Obamacare. Christians have to elect prolife Republicans to stop this

    And remember that esteemed defender of liberty, the Becket Fund? Who threw a hissy fit and filed case after case to the Supreme Court to dismantle Obamacare because it hurts the fee-fees of Little sisters of the Poor?

    Kids in cages? Silence
    Military style takeover in cities? Silence

    No Biden. This should continue, till the American Christians land USCCB lose all shreds of moral credibility.Otherwise they will get away with this charade, this pretension. Using their influence and actions in aid of evil, and using words and lip service for good.

    They must become completely exposed and naked, undeniable to history, like the German Church

    1. Sooooo… your hatred of Christians is so great that you want innocents to suffer and die just so you can hate their persecutors and killers more? Seem counter-productive. I think any person of sense, intelligence, and sanity already understands who the guilty are here. Now we need to defeat them and drive them from power, not revel in our superiority while they continue to harm the innocent.

    2. Don’t worry, American Christianity has already lost any shred of moral credibility. So you can throw your insane strategy in the garbage.

      1. @neko and mark

        I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure he’s attempting to do satire, but not succeeding in that particularly well. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell.

  6. Let’s see… the Russian collusion hoax didn’t work. The Ukrainian phone call impeachment didn’t work. I know…let’s get a bunch of thugs out on the street to loot small businesses–we’ll call it a ‘protest against…I don’t know…how ’bout RACISM?
    I mean, there’s got to be SOME way to elect a pro-abortion, pro-Chinese-Communist candidate with Alzheimer’s who’s got a history of lying about his credentials and plagiarising other politicians’ speeches to the presidency. This is what democracy looks like!

    1. Enjoy your Bubble. Yes. Your Cult is invincible. You should definitely keep believing that and living in that world without engaging reality. Don’t mind us. We’ll be over here not organizing to smash your cult and all the evils it stands for. Keep bragging loudly. We are totally cringing in the face of your power and glory and not gaining in strength for your overthrow every day.

      1. Mark, people who disagree with you aren’t necessarily ‘evil’, nor are they after ‘power’. Sometimes I think you’re just having a laugh, spinning out this hyperbolic ‘I hate Trump!!’ line–is it real? Is it satire? Only Mark knows for sure! But if it is, it’s pretty darn good.

    2. Yeah Tony. That must be it. The failure of the Senate to hold a trial, with witnesses and evidence presented, has absolutely nothing to do with the credibility of the impeachment by the house. In fact, the failures of the Senate simply proves that the impeachment of the house, and the charges contained there in, were simply a hoax.

      1. ‘Credibility of the impeachment by the house’? Geesh, and here’s me thinking it was just partisan political theatre! At least Bill Clinton actually committed perjury.

      2. Bill Clinton got the trial. There is the difference for you. In this case…

        Let’s see. the mueller report suppressed. No trial in the senate. No witnesses, no evidence. Trump told his toadies not to testify under oath, because a lot of people not trump did testify under oath, and the house agreed there was sufficient smoke to think that a fire would exist.

        You have your own reality. Welcome to it.

  7. Congratulations, America, on catching up with Poland. After 39 years, you have your own martial law declared against your citizens.

  8. What happened to these earlier claims about “subsidiarity” by some conservative Catholics? Of course, they were about social justice and helping the disadvantaged, not about maintaining “law and order” in a number of cities considered unable to control their populations… that in spite of my limited knowledge about the US, seem to be situated in areas with democratic tendencies. I am afraid that your country is coming to the last part, the steeper part, of the slippery slope towards the kind of dictatorship that seemingly used to be approved of, or even favored, in, for example Chile and Argentina (among others) by previous US administrations.


    At times like this, when the empire abroad starts to come apart, domestic blowback is a common consequence. Empires, and imperial failures, rarely stay out of sight and out of mind if they become an ongoing pattern. The tools of empire don’t stay overseas, trained solely on those designated as the empire’s enemies; they find new targets, new uses, in the hands of people looking to grab the shreds of power left behind as the empire collapses in on itself…

    When we see Border Patrol agents wearing camouflage and helmets, carrying M4s with optics, rigged up like they’re about to go on patrol in Ramadi or the Korengal Valley (or deal with a migrant caravan in the southwest), that’s empire coming home. The viciousness of their handling of immigration during the Trump era, complete with threats of gunfire, concentration camps, and consistent dehumanization, has been a preview of their handling of American citizens. So too have been the various misdeeds of American soldiers overseas…

    ..the equipment and us vs. them way of approaching conflict are straight out of the imperial frontier. The fact that these paramilitary policemen aren’t actually soldiers isn’t as relevant as the ways of thinking about force and power, and who constitutes a legitimate target for violence, that empire produces.

    All empires fall. When they do, the violence and terror they’ve wrought on others has a way of coming back around.

  10. Thanks for sharing your friend’s experience. Trump won’t leave willingly unless it’s a landslide. We are in the fight of our lives. Vote. And as John Lewis said, be willing to cause ‘good trouble, necessary trouble’.

    1. There is also another threat that is not often mentioned here: I have read elsewhere that, particularly in states where the governor is Republican, a lot of effort is being displayed to eliminate voters – often mostly of color. I have seen the figure of 1,913,613 ballots thrown away for a number of excuses. Also, it seems that voting machines break down more often in areas where Democrats appear to be very popular. In other places, also, there can be all kinds of difficulties for voters to get to the polls, or very long waiting lines. I could give links to anyone interested.

      1. Something to add to my previous comment. The article dates back to 2018, but was brought back today by, since it is, more than ever, pertinent, and the situation threatens to consolidate Trump’s dictatorship:
        The Current
        Laws to suppress black vote in U.S. are being drafted with ‘horrific efficiency,’ says author
        Social Sharing
        Ruling on Voting Rights Act has allowed ‘re-assertion of Jim Crow,’ says Carol Anderson
        CBC Radio · Posted: Sep 18, 2018 2:20 PM ET | Last Updated: September 18, 2018

      2. Hi Marthe, yes voter suppression, gerrymandering and other corruption is alive and well. Our southern white Christian Republicans have made voter suppression a fine art. Which is why removing trump is only half the battle. We must vote large and hard to remove all Republicans.

  11. Trump, Fox News & right wing media:

    Portland is on Fire!!! The city is being burned down by leftists, They are coming for your town next!!! Re-elect Trump and Republicans, or your future will be hell.


    “As a Portlander, I wanted to counter the narrative that our city is no longer safe since it’s being overrun by violent protests. So, I made maps for perspective on them.”

    1. Such a great map. Portland city blocks are also TINY, so if people are used to places like NYC they might still not understand the scale – each block is about 200ftx200ft. Outside that area, there’s a small radius with a lot more graffiti than usual, but a little spray paint in a major city isn’t exactly a national emergency. That’s it.

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