Funny thing, the first thing that came to my mind while reading this was a wonderful book by Erik Larson *, entitled In The Garden of Beasts. In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt had a difficult time finding someone in the State Department who wanted to be ambassador in newly-elected Chancellor Hitler’s Berlin (imagine that!) so he picked a University of Chicago Professor, William E. Dodd.
The book to me was fascinating in that it profiled the Dodd family against life in Berlin, as it was changing with the Nazis seizing control. Control not only of the government but public life and thought.
I think I will have to read it again as it has been a few years.
And in that book was a section detailing one of the ways the Nazis seized control of public thought. As one example, during a parade anyone in the crowd who refused to give the Hitlergruss was severely beaten by Nazi thugs. It became such that in German society schoolchildren would give it in classrooms, and it replaced a handshake in Berlin society. As Larson said, it got to be a bit comical to an outsider’s eyes. But if you were a Berliner and didn’t give it the penalties could be severe.
So I am reading in the WSJ about the beating given journalist Andy Ngo.
The far-right group Proud Boys and other men’s-rights activists planned a rally in downtown Portland. Left-wing groups associated with the extremist Antifa movement such as PopMob and Rose City Antifa organized a counterprotest. Mr. Ngo, a freelance writer from the area, showed up to cover the protests.
Mr. Ngo says that while he was recording with his GoPro he was hit in the back of the head, then beaten by several Antifa activists. Footage filmed by an Oregonian reporter shows someone in a black hoodie punching and kicking Mr. Ngo, and others surrounding him and throwing things at him.
After escaping the mob, Mr. Ngo went to the hospital and was treated for head injuries including a subarachnoid hemorrhage, or brain bleed. A photo on Twitter shows his bloody face and battered eye.
Mr. Ngo was also hit with milk shakes, which have become a common Antifa projectile. Portland police on Saturday tweeted that they had received a tip that some milk shakes contained quick-drying cement.
Worse still was the absence of the Portland police and the tepid response of the mayor to this violence:
Portland has a history of indulging protests from the political left, as Mr. Ngo has previously reported in these pages. On Monday Mayor Ted Wheeler finally tweeted some general and mild statements that violence in Portland is “unacceptable” and those who “committed violence” should be “held accountable.” If they aren’t, there will be more mob violence.
2019 Portland is certainly not 1933 Berlin but the mayor’s response and the lack of any arrests is disturbing.
Since these thugs rely on wearing masks for anonymity one would think a law disallowing masks in crowds would be common sense.
Apparently not for mayor Ted Wheeler.
Common sense seems to be in short supply these days.
** I have read several great books by Erik Larson and can recommend them. In addition to In The Garden of Beasts, I’ve read The Devil In The White City, which profiled the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair against the backdrop of a serial killer who made Charles Manson look like a Girl Scout. His book on the last crossing of the Lusitania is also superb. On my reading list is yet another book by him on the 1900 Galveston TX hurricane.
He is a great author.