Portland:  Groupthink and Violence

Right From the Start

Portland – not Oregon, just Portland – is one of the most liberal cities in America. Portland (Multnomah County) has about 515,000 registered voters – nearly 54% are Democrats and less than 13% are Republicans.  Many of the remaining 33% simply don’t think the Democrat Party is liberal enough and so they register as Independents, Progressives, Pacific Greens, Working Families or non-affiliated.  (In the 2016 election Portland voted overwhelmingly for Sen. Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT).

It is one of the “whitest” cities in America. The population is nearly eighty percent white, eight percent African-American, slightly over six percent Asian and the remainder scattered among other ethnicities.
It is also one of the most intolerant cities in America.  Like other enclaves (particularly universities) dominated by Liberals/Progressives, groupthink is required.  The Business Dictionary defines groupthink as:
“Tendency of the members of a group to yield to the desire for consensus or unanimity at the cost of considering alternative courses of action. Group-think is said to be the reason why intelligent and knowledgeable people make disastrous decisions.”
Conformity to political thought is required.  In such situations you get bizarre results such as the mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler (D), attempting to cancel a rally in defense of “free speech” in order to preserve free speech.

Then there is the incident in which the Portland City Council decided to withdraw its investment in Caterpillar Company because Israeli authorities use Caterpillar equipment in building security walls to control Palestinian terrorists and to build residential developments in disputed lands.  (Caterpillar has increased in market value by nearly one hundred percent since the beginning of 2016 – not the first investment that one would jettison in a portfolio designed to maximize returns.)  But it gets worse.  Because the members of the Portland City Council – all atwitter with self-righteousness – were dismayed that other corporations may be (may have been in the past, or may be in the future) engaged in something that rankles the other snowflakes in Portland, they decided to withdraw the city’s investments in all corporations – evil empires that they are.  This leaves the city to invest its reserves and pension plans in low yield government bonds.  NewsMax, in a June 13, 2017 report, listed Portland as the third worst city (among large cities) in terms of unfunded future liabilities for pension plans at only fifty percent funded.  Reducing the return on investment from an average of seven percent to less than three percent will simply make that problem worse.  But it’s okay because they feel good about themselves for having blamed Israel for all the problems involving the Palestinians.

But groupthink doesn’t just result in stupid – and I mean really stupid – decisions with taxpayer money; it has an ugly side that is becoming more frequent – groupviolence.  There have been the “days of rage” recurring regularly in Portland over the election of President Donald Trump (R).  Members of the Portland City Council have not only tolerated the lawlessness that has accompanied these demonstrations; they have participated in the events.  So regularly have the Portland Police been instructed to “go easy” on these leftist demonstrators that it is now standard operating procedure.  The treatment is so biased in favor of the leftists that in one instance the police arrested and charged an individual who drew a gun in an effort to protect himself from a mob purporting to represent Black Lives Matter.  In recent years, protests (riots) by these leftist groups have resulted in property damage, arson, assault and disorderly conduct.  Arrests made are almost universally dismissed in the days following these rampages.  The clear message is that those promoting violence – particularly when the violence is directed against policies, with which the Portland City Commission disagrees – are, welcome and tolerated in Portland.

But now it has gone beyond political protests and has resulted in private threats of violence against individual citizens whose only crimes are an attempt to make a living.  Take Kooks Burritos – Willamette Week carried a story about two women who while visiting Mexico became infatuated with the making and use of handmade tortillas.  After learning as much as they could while in Mexico, the two women returned to Portland and experimented with what they learned until they had perfected the process to a point in which they could open their own food “pop-up” (which I take to mean food cart) – Kooks Burritos.  The story ignited a near social media riot including multiple serious death threats to the two women.  So imminent were the threats that the women closed their business and shrunk in to the background – a retreat from Portland’s belligerence.  As Willamette Week described the incident:
“We probably should have seen Kooks coming.
“But we really didn’t anticipate that a short and positive review of a weekends-only breakfast burrito pop-up a couple of weeks ago would ignite an international incident—a rage-filled conversation about cultural appropriation that led to opinion pieces in the London Daily Mail and the Washington Post and on Fox News, not to mention on Mexican social media.”
“It was a perfect storm.
*          *          *
“More than 1,500 comments were posted, with still thousands more on Facebook—some defending, others attacking the Kooks owners, who were derided as white “Beckys” even though one of the two Kooks owners is a quarter Chinese.”
And that was just the beginning.   A group of busy bodies purporting to create “feminist workspace” created a list of other restaurants at which “white people” served ethnic dishes.  Their sin – cultural misappropriation.  In a city that is eighty percent white, who did you think was likely to serve your favorite dishes?

As surely as day follows night, groupviolence follows groupthink.  The need for “unanimity” of thought mandates that alternatives be rejected.  And when you are forced by pressure to reject without consideration the alternatives you become incapable of contesting the alternatives.  But the alternatives persist.  Reactions now are to avoid recognition of the alternatives – universities create “safe spaces”, speakers are shouted down and collaborative governments are used to deny the alternatives a forum within which to be heard.  And there is violence.  Its execution is confined to a limited few but its tolerance is accepted by the adherents of groupthink and the public officials whom they support.  How many times have you heard that a public official “certainly doesn’t condone violence but that (s)he understands the frustrations of those involved”?

History is filled with incidents of groupthink and the resulting violence – Kristallnacht in Germany when local thugs affiliated with the National Socialists (Nazis) attacked Jews and destroyed their homes and businesses; the Armenian genocide conducted by Turkey; the Ku Klux Klan beating and murdering Blacks and burning their churches and homes.  The list can go on forever but in each instance the violence of a few is tolerated by the silence of many.

History is watching Portland, Oregon and its leaders who have succumbed to groupthink and who promote violence through their silence.