Open Letter: Oregon Republican Leadership Must Stand Up for Equality and Love as Well as Liberty

Some Oregon Republican leaders failed in their response to the horrendous actions of Jeremy Christian. We are not surprised. Failing to adequately address hateful actions and rhetoric has become a trend with many in today’s GOP leadership. Today, all Republicans must do as Oregon House Minority Leader Mike McLane did on the house floor and state that “hate has no place here.” All Oregonians deserve to know that the leaders of both parties are ready to stand up for all people in this state, regardless of race, religion, birth place, or anything else.

We left the Republican Party after the rise of Trump, and with him, the return of organizations who believe it is acceptable to openly espouse white nationalism and other bigoted beliefs. The degree to which such organizations previously had quiet support is unclear to us, but there is a dangerous new emboldening of such groups, and a failure by many in positions of responsibility to properly denounce their hateful affiliations. We support the right of those organizations, and the individuals who share their views, to speak, but we denounce what they say and we denounce the violence that foments in their wake. We call on all of Oregon’s Republican leaders to do so as well. Unequivocally. Jeremy Christian’s terrorism was a foreseeable outcome of the normalization of racist and bigoted rhetoric. We understand that he may not have been affiliated with the far-right “free-speech” groups, but he certainly believed he belonged with them and he (rightly?) believed that they shared his hateful views.

So, what was wrong with the responses from some in Oregon’s GOP? Oregon GOP Chairman Bill Currier did not issue a press release regarding the slayings of Rick Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai- Meche. He did not issue one regarding the hateful rhetoric used by the perpetrator during his attack, or one regarding the perpetrator’s known participation in recent Portland “free-speech” rallies. Instead, he spent his time slamming Mayor Wheeler’s request that the rallies scheduled for June 4 and June 10 be cancelled. Those rallies, which Chairman Currier defends, are a “Trump Free Speech” rally put on by Based Stickman and Based Spartan, and an “Anti-Sharia” rally. Based Stickman and Based Spartan got their nicknames from the pseudo-armor costumes they wear at rallies and the violent acts they committed against people protesting their hate-filled rallies. These events are happening weekly all over the country and “free-speech,” in this context, is used to defend their right to repeat lines from President Trump; namely, that Muslims should not be allowed in the country and that Mexico is sending us its rapists and murderers. Here in Portland, Jeremy Christian attended these rallies before committing his hate-filled crime. We hope that Currier does not fully grasp the genesis of these organizations, or that Jeremy Christian was a participant at these rallies, but that information is easily available. Regardless, it is vitally important that Currier distinguish the Oregon GOP from those groups rather than rising so quickly to defend to them.

Worse than the Oregon GOP’s response was that from Multnomah County GOP Chairman James Buchal. Buchal advised the media that he is “thinking about” using militia groups as security forces to defend right-wing rallies. In an article from The Guardian, Buchal acknowledged considering inviting two armed mobs to Portland to “protect” his rallies. He does not believe the Portland police are adequate protection, so he would intentionally bring an army into the city. Buchal says that the left feels justified using force to stop hate speech, so he apparently thinks he is justified in showing force to propel his message. How is this the leadership of the Oregon Republican Party? Yes, these groups have the right to hold their rallies, but does Mr. Buchal really think it’s a good idea to bring a militia into the city? What does he think will happen?

Freedom of speech is existentially important to our country. So is the inherent equality granted to all Americans as stated in our founding creed and protected by the Constitution and its Amendments. The Republican leaders who call for the protection of free speech must also denounce the hate and anger seen at these rallies. They must denounce the hate-spreading organizations by name. They must make it clear that these organizations are not endorsed by, or approved of, in any way, by the Oregon GOP. It is possible to defend free speech while speaking out against a hateful message. A party whose leadership does not do both is a party not worth participating in. If the Oregon GOP is not prepared to denounce the growing hateful rhetoric, then the Oregon GOP needs new leadership. We re-affirm the right to free speech. This year, today, now, though, our leaders also need to have the decency and the courage to stand up for equality, tolerance, love, and living together peacefully.

For Your Consideration,

— John Boylston, City Councilor of King City and 2016 candidate in the Republican primary for HD 26
— Patrick De Klotz, 2016 Republican candidate for HD 38

  • Diana Lynn Braddock

    So why do the democrats not respond as like when protesters riot and block traffic. That is done in hate for Trump. Calling out Republicans and not Dems for the same kind of hate is Hypocrisy!

    • William Butterfeld

      Because the riots and blocked traffic are not even close to what Christian did. However boorish the actions of some on the left may be, the answer is not to import violent racists… and our party needs to address that. Publicly and emphatically.

  • Ken Taylor

    Sadly, the authors are creating an issue.

    • Pretty sure Buchal added fuel to the issue with his armed militia concept and the timing of it. Look around the world at places where political parties align with militias. Do you see any of them as good models of civic engagement? I think one of the problems the Republicans have in Oregon and nationally is that many see the national front populism that propelled Trump and the Brexit is a powerful, if not a dominant force in the Republican coalition. So even if there is a split between those who see it as their path back to power and relevancy (like Buchal, I guess) and those who find it abhorrant (like the authors), very few of people are willing to try to slow down that moving train, even if they don’t agree with it.

  • The information about John Boyston running for HD 24 has to be a typo. HD 24 is McMinnville, Dundee, Yamhill, Carlton and rural Forest Grove, not King City.

    • Reagan Knopp

      You are correct. I have updated the post to reflect that Boylston ran for in the HD 26 Republican primary.

  • Bob Clark

    President Trump is a kick in the pants, kicking the country out of a level of complacency. Sure he has big, obvious warts. But I am glad he is president and not Queen Hillary or Spurn the Bern Sanders. The latter are just more of the same bloated entitlement malaise, enlarged by President Obama.
    Kumbaya (pushed by Progressives since Trump’s election) definitely should be part of our cultural make up but reality necessitates defensive strength and action (elevated with President Trump) in balance.

  • Davis_OR

    The authors of the letter and several commenters above really miss the point of political leaders issuing statements. They need involve themselves only when policy questions or political operations are at issue. Otherwise, such statements offer neither clarity nor solace and appear only to reinforce a desire for relevance. Since Mr. Christian’s actions were neither politically motivated (i.e. attempting to express a political point of view) nor politically inspired (i.e. resulting from a desire to act on political messages), no statements from any party leader are required or even desired. Thus, Ms. Braddock is much closer to the truth in her expression of disdain toward Democrats who refuse to call out protesters and rioters who damage property and wreak violence in the name of some “resistance” than is Mr. Butterfield who vainly tries to compare those actions firmly rooted in politics with those of Mr. Christian.
    Certainly, Mr. Christian’s actions were reprehensible, immoral, and criminal and as such must be condemned as much as they will be adjudicated. But please, don’t request that politicians, political parties, and political hangers-on involve themselves in the fray when such will only serve to muddy the waters and stir up more strife where none is needed.

  • greatjoy

    So, how often are Democrats called on to denounce their members when they do violent acts? Why are the Republicans supposed to denounce Democrats who do violence? The media was extremely desirous of tying the murderous actions of a man to racism and islamophobia and “right-wing”–and for days has hammered it into our heads–until finally we get relief from the propaganda campaign by learning that he was a Bernie Sanders supporter. He is therefore leftist, socialist, Democrat, and has nothing to do with normalcy, the Republican Party, or anything to do with Trump. In what way is Trump or the Republican Party “liable” for the actions of a man on the MAX? Calling for Republicans to make certain statements to prove that we are for equality, and not for hate, assumes up front that we actually ARE those things, and we must prove that we are NOT, by saying so. I have attended a Trump rally, and it was a chance to sing the National Anthem, say the pledge of allegiance, and hear various citizens use the open mike to call us to live as Americans have been advocated from the beginning by our founders–giving glory to God for liberty, and thanksgiving that we are able to undo some of the vicious things the Democrats and Obama saddled us with. Like slaves that can get a chance to gather to sing about liberty, we rejoice that we can gather–and we get attacked–called “alt-right” (whatever that new term means) and the other list of name-calling the Democrats do to us. I always have a hard time believing people have “left the Republican Party because…” when I believe they actually know nothing about the proud history of the Republican Party, and actually have never even read a single Platform, let alone the 1st platform, declaring our desire to ban slavery, or the 2nd Platform that Lincoln was elected on, that re-iterated the intention to free the slaves, and followed through, giving his life for their liberty…but now, the general population believes he never intended to do that because that is what Democrats teach them…we are constantly lied about and this call for statements about a man who did violence on the MAX is just another propaganda-filled pack of lies. We will probably never learn about how many lies went into that propaganda campaign. Meanwhile, I just looked up the history of what islam did to the hindu population of India when they invaded, and killed more than 400 million–creating mountains of heads. History has a way of making everything clear. This history is part of a book by an islamist very proud of the killing of hindu “infidels.” Islamists were like “salt in a platter of food” as they did the killing…kind of like the “lone-wolf” designation we are so often told are the people we should never pay attention to…unless, suddenly there is someone who is “alt-right,” and his name just happens to be “Christian” too. Then we are supposed to make statements about how awful his actions are…but the islamic terrorists whose Qur’an commands them to kill “infidels” and who chant for hours about killing Christians and Jews…those we are supposed to ignore? Just like we are supposed to ignore the connection of Hitler and al-husseini, a socialist and an islamist who created The Final Solution, and who are supposedly the “right” and the kind of people the “alt-right” are part of…a re-definition of giant proportions, that has the rioters claiming they are “anti-fascists” when actually they have no idea who the fascists are, and their name starts with D, not R. Are fascists not the ones in the govt, who are growing govt for the purpose of controlling people? Yes, I do think the Democrats have done a good job of that. And their media campaign views Republicans as the “soul-mates” of fascists around the world. They have hated Republicans ever since we started out to free their slaves. A good exercise in education would be to READ the statements made by the Democrat states as they seceded from the union the day Lincoln was elected, in protest of his plan to free their slaves. Then read how they started the KKK for the purpose of killing Republicans, which at that time included most of the black, freed slaves. Talk about needing to make statements about equality…and not hating…look at Democrats.

  • Frank Martin

    Amazing how you are calling that Free Speech is important..

    Just not for certain groups…

    • SocraticMeathead

      I don’t know how you got that from this article.

  • waterwench

    Hate has no place in America, and I wish we could all agree. God bless those three heroes. Richard,Taliesin and Micah saw a dangerous man harrying and bullying two teenage girls, one of color and one wearing hijab, on a Portland train, and they saw the fear in their eyes and stepped in without thought for their own safety to create a shield of protection and love. They paid for their bravery in blood, but it was the blood of true patriots. No one will remember the snake who wielded the knife. We all despise the unreasoning hatred, cowardice and unAmerican bigotry that led him to attack two young girls in the first place. Richard and Taliesin, Rest In Peace. Micah, may you heal fully and live the life you were meant to.