Aaron Lee

Fighting right-wing extremism begins at home. In Portland, that means we need to have some real honest conversations about Patriot Prayer, the militant right-wing group based in Vancouver, Washington. For the past few years, Patriot Prayer’s top priority has been visiting Portland to incite violence, taunt the city’s lefty leadership, and collect praise from right-wing blogs. City officials continue to grapple with the best way to combat this violent group—but the responsibility doesn’t rest on them alone. As we charge into the second half of Trump’s term, let’s start changing the way we talk about our local alt-righters.

Adjectives Matter

Patriot Prayer is not just a group of rabble-rousing conservatives who enjoy waving American flags. Patriot Prayer is a far-right extremist group whose members use racist and misogynistic rhetoric to threaten minorities. Yes, the group’s membership includes women and people of color—but also includes members of the self-identified white nationalist group, the Proud Boys.

False Equivalencies

We’re past the “good people on both sides” angle with this crew. When Patriot Prayer visits Portland, they’re often greeted by locals who promptly ask them to take their bigotry and leave. These progressive counter-protesters often include members of the anti-fascist (antifa) community, a group that dresses in all black and is equated to alt-right militia groups by conservative leaders (including Donald Trump).

A quick reminder: According to the Global Terrorism Database, terror-related attacks by right-wing extremists have risen from 6 percent to 35 percent since early 2000. The share of attacks by left-wing extremists has dropped from 64 percent to 12 percent in the same period. In 2017 alone, we saw 65 attacks orchestrated by right-wing extremists—and 11 by left-wingers. While some members of antifa get physical when Patriot Prayer comes to town, it’s often their way of defending our community from dangerous interlopers.

They Want Our Attention

Patriot Prayer, like other alt-right groups, love the spotlight. They’re hungry for media coverage to validate their existence and spread their hateful rhetoric. They want locals to live in fear of their visits and they want the nation to believe Portland is some violent pit of anarchy they’re humbly obligated to battle. You know what they’d hate? If the public and media pointed that spotlight on their enemies—actual Portlanders who are fed up with them using our streets as a battleground. There are a number of local progressive groups—like Demand Utopia, Popular Mobilization, and Democratic Socialists of America—doing the hard work of organizing against Patriot Prayer’s toxic visits with nonviolent action and education. Let’s give them the megaphone.