[Ed. – Don’t be misled by the headline. The author, a diehard liberal, still clings to the myth that lefties are the calm, cool intellectuals in politics — the adults in the room. The only reason he devotes a column to admonishing one sect of liberalism, Antifa, is to remind everyone that violence is a conservative thing and that Antifa’s efforts to stop the ‘white supremacists,’ while noble, is stooping to your enemy’s level.]
What’s eroding in Portland is the quality Max Weber considered essential to a functioning state: a monopoly on legitimate violence. As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifascists don’t want the government to stop white supremacists from gathering. They want to do so themselves, rendering the government impotent. With help from other left-wing activists, they’re already having some success at disrupting government. Demonstrators have interrupted so many city-council meetings that in February, the council met behind locked doors. In February and March, activists protesting police violence and the city’s investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline hounded Mayor Ted Wheeler so persistently at his home that he took refuge in a hotel. The fateful email to parade organizers warned, “The police cannot stop us from shutting down roads.”
All of this fuels the fears of Trump supporters, who suspect that liberal bastions are refusing to protect their right to free speech.