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When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan

Well folks, it’s official, Donald Trump has declared war on America. Probably should have saw that coming. After all, I’ve long argued that our dayglow duce isn’t an isolationist but merely the world’s shittiest imperialist. After trying and failing miserably to bring fascism to Nicaragua and Venezuela, Trump has set his sites on targets much more suited to his America First brand of colonialism. The one war our asshole in chief has managed to wage successfully after all has been the federal government’s war on undocumented brown children. He may have failed to give Israel Iran but he succeeded swimmingly at giving ICE Aztlan, setting up a veritable gulag archipelago of Chuckie Cheese concentration camps on the Rio Grande that would make Woodrow Wilson wet with envy. Now he’s sicking those same feds on America’s more belligerent third world neighborhoods, turning Seattle and Detroit into Managua and Caracas in a sad and evil attempt to fellate his flaccid poll numbers by publicly thrashing black people and their allies for demanding an end to police state apartheid.

In no metropolis has this spectacle of tyranny been more blatantly grotesque than in the throbbing streets of Portlandia, where a long tradition of protest and direct action has been met with all the bleak and eerie force of an Orwellian dystopia. Crowds of mothers, hipsters, activists, and veterans have been repeatedly provoked into defending their right to free assembly nightly by category 4 storms of teargas, rubber bullets, and flashbang devices, often fired directly into waves of unarmed civilians. A bevy of unmarked mystery meat in full combat regalia has swelled the streets in formation like paunchy, Slim Jim chomping, gestapo in heat. Some of them cruising the café lined avenues in windowless glorified rape vans, kidnapping random baristas and disappearing them like Operation Condor while a swarm of hopefully unarmed drones watched it all unfold from above. This is the kind of war Trump believes he can win. Portlandistan! Where the war comes to you…

Thank god for anarchists, who live to prove pompous bullies wrong. Every time the feds picked a fight with peaceful protesters, furious gutter punks in black weren’t far behind to throw it back at them like a fucking teargas canister, victoriously denying Trump his cheap victory by making fools of his over-armed goons with little more than keffiyehs, firecrackers, and that attitude the Bad Brains use to shout about. Daniel Ortega should be proud. Say what you want about these kids but for 60 days Trump brought the war home and for 60 days these motherfuckers fed it back to him. Now he’s forced to take Portlandistan on the road with his tail between his legs.

We may have won this battle but the war is far from over. The biggest mistake the left can and all too often does make about the Donald’s failed American interventions is to assume that they represent some kind of aberration, a nightmare we can all wake up from once November comes. This notion is absurdly childish. Donald Trump himself is the product of the inevitable decline of American imperialism. Everything he’s done, everything he is, is anything but unprecedented. The only reason Trump has the power to declare war on our fed-up nation is because past regimes provided him the weapons designed to do just that.

It was progressive do-gooders and never-Trumpers like Barack Obama and George W. Bush who militarized the executive office and turned the White House into an iron citadel with a ready squadron of armed drones at El Presidente’s fingertips, not to mention the right to use them on any 12-year-old American with a name scary enough for the papers to overlook. And it was glad-handing neoliberal racists like Bill Clinton and our feeble-minded savior Joe Biden who turned our prison system into the finest plantation money can buy, and our police force into the kind of broken window fucking superbeasts that can keep this chattel industry populated with an endless supply of brown bodies to feast on. If you honestly believe that this shit is going to stop or even slow down with Trump gone then you’re dumber than he is and probably shouldn’t vote for anything less trivial than one of his reality TV competitions. Biden’s gray-care handlers will turn down the more histrionic theatrics and keep this thing rolling on mute while the news conveniently finds something else to get upset about.

This is just what happens when imperialism comes home after decades of failure abroad. It brings all the charming trappings of it’s garish banana republics home with it. With each passing day, as the American Century reaches its bloody twilight, Camelot looks more and more like Pinochet’s Chile or Somoza’s Nicaragua. The NSA, FEMA camps, ICE, warrantless wiretaps, black sites, no-knock raids, unmarked paramilitaries, these are all but chickens coming home to roost, and they expose the biggest flaw I see in otherwise heroic movements like Black Live Matter and many of their left-anarchist allies. They seem to suffer from a total lack of awareness that their struggle extends far beyond this nation’s faulty borders. I have yet to hear any of the supposed leaders of these movements point out that the prison industrial complex, which they righteously condemn, is inseparably intertwined with the military-industrial complex, which they refuse to acknowledge. They exist on a continuum of corporate-state power that feeds the same fat masters and keeps us all in chains from Angola to, well, Angola.

Quite possibly the fiercest foe modern American tyranny has ever faced off against were the Black Panthers that BLM is often derisively compared to, but Huey Newton let it be known from day one that his party was a paramilitary movement developed to combat imperialism both at home and abroad. The Panthers and their allies across the Rainbow Coalition spectrum recognized that America’s most impoverished communities, from Oakland to Appalachia, were nearly indistinguishable from the Third World nations that America sought to crush overseas, and they boldly declared allegiance to those oppressed comrades above their own occupying nation. I see this fire in the streets of Portlandistan, but where is the fury that connects it to our brothers and sisters struggling valiantly against the same beast in Yemen and the West Bank? Why do leaders in Black Lives Matter break bread with Fortune 500 monsters before that of the Houthi dragon slayers? I’m not grandstanding here, I seriously want to know.

I’m a devout anti-imperialist, dearest motherfuckers, the proud citizen of a stateless Queer nation, a third world nation of teenage runaways and streetwalking prostitutes. I want this movement to work, like many marginalized people, in many ways, I need this movement to work. I want the kids in the streets of cities across this fascist police state to win like they did in Portlandistan, only bigger. But a true revolution just isn’t possible if you refuse to address the giant blood-drenched elephant in the room, and I’m not talking about Trump.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.

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