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:
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.