Earlier this week, PBS published a piece about three conservative women in the city of Portland. It’s an unusual perspective in a city that is overwhelmingly progressive. As you would expect, many of the locals aren’t kind to those with a different opinion. Helen Church became more active about her political beliefs after her son’s middle-school teacher told him that anyone who supported Trump was a racist:
Up to that point, Church’s activism consisted mostly of writing letters to local and state representatives, and sometimes the White House. But as she watched people on the left continuously denigrate Trump supporters, she also became more active online. She joined dozens of pro-Trump Facebook groups, and as she spoke up, she said, she began getting messages from women who told her they admired her courage…
As Church became more active, she was targeted online by people with opposing views; some even threatened to come to her house and hurt her. The comments unnerved her, but she mostly tried to ignore them. She knew that bullying happened on both the right and left.
That worked until one day last spring, when she posted a comment on a story online about how the Affordable Care Act had hurt people she knew. After she posted it, she recalled, she got a private message from someone calling her a racist and saying it was clear she wanted children to die.
Church, who also was criticized by someone on the right for not being patriotic enough, considered killing herself and might have if her husband had not intervened. Another woman featured in the story is Kathryn Townsend who lives in Washington state. She became a frequent attendee at conservative rallies after witnessing members of Antifa shouting at a Gold Star mother, i.e. someone whose child had died while serving in the armed forces. Eventually, she lost her job after Antifa posted information about her online:
Rose City Antifa listed Townsend as a person to watch in what the group called the area’s “racist rage revival club.” The listing included her photo and a warning that Townsend, who lived in Gig Harbor, Washington, a few hours from Portland, but visited regularly for rallies, was known for traveling “across state lines.”…
A few weeks later, as Rose City Antifa encouraged its followers to contact the employers of the pro-Trump rally-goers, to try to get them fired, Townsend’s employer received an anonymous message. The message asked if the company was aware a violent right-wing extremist worked there. Being listed and targeted at work scared Townsend, who offered to resign her position. Her manager accepted.
The last person featured in the story is Athena Brown a transgender woman who gradually got tired of the political correctness she experienced on the left and became a Trump supporter. But as she became more vocal about her views, she lost friends in droves:
In mid-2016, Brown decided to see if there were any Republicans in Portland with whom she could connect. She went to a Multnomah County Republican street fair, where she met a group of women who were immediately receptive. (The county includes the city of Portland and some surrounding suburbs.) “There was plenty of warmth and acceptance,” she said, more than she’d ever felt on the left. “I’m a trans lesbian atheist, and they are conservative Christian. But not one single time has my gender come up, unless I’ve brought it up.”
When Brown came out as transgender in 2013, only two friends stopped speaking to her. When she came out as Republican, soon after her trip to the street fair, she remembered being blocked by roughly 100 people on Facebook, mostly from the LGBTQ community, she said.
Portland is one of the most progressive cities in the country with one of the most active and most violent Antifa movements. It is also intolerant of people with a different opinion. That’s not a problem limited to the left of course, but it is one the left often pretends is limited to the right. In other words, the left’s self-image as tolerant and diverse doesn’t seem to hold up well in ultra-progressive Portland.