Unfolding yet again in Oregon is an epic struggle of White Americans fighting for their soul. Unsurprisingly the media shares little of the white supremacist and xenophobic ideologies at the root of the prime activists in the Harney County occupation. The mostly armed White men have a track record of violent rhetoric and extremist views that go beyond simple anti-government goals.
Nativism, exploitation of the land, and the meaning of Whiteness are at play. Oregon has long faced this struggle as militia and hate groups have dominated and flourished in Oregon politics and shaping the general social order. While many Whites may dismiss their fellow White militants, no Person of Color is. We know too well and too often how fear mongering by a few translates into paralysis to address racial inequities and a culture of white fragility particularly among Oregon’s liberal white elite.
The contradictions abound, sharpened by the acquittal of officer Tim Loehmann in the shooting of 12 year old Tamir Rice, and the general law enforcement response to community protests in Ferguson, Baltimore and yes…Portland.