By editorial board • 

Responsibility for racist hate runs to the top

The fatal act of white supremacist terrorism perpetrated on a Portland train Friday will not soon be forgotten, at least not by anyone who can muster an ounce of compassion.

The horror will reverberate in the news of the day for months, in the hearts of Oregonians for years, and in the memories of surviving victims, relatives and witnesses for time immemorial. There is no solvent powerful enough to cleanse the stain, no drug effective enough to ease the pain.

Paradoxically, but predictably, attacker Jeremy Joseph Christian is just the kind of person to trumpet white superiority and advocate for creation of a pure white homeland. He is exactly the kind of person to demand the opportunity to bask in that superiority, untroubled by anyone of different color, faith, ethnicity, heritage, belief or background.

That is to say, someone emotionally crippled and mentally challenged, undereducated and underemployed, utterly devoid of empathy and compassion. Someone with a long record of trading in crime, violence and hate.

In his mind, if it weren’t for all those people who look, act and dress differently, he would be rising with the cream instead of sinking with the muck. The fault must not lie with him that he is an underling, but with a fate imposed on him by dark and sinister forces from distant points.

Christian began spewing venom at two girls, a 16-year-old African American and a 17-year-old Muslim, the moment he boarded their eastbound train. When three men tried to defuse the situation, he pulled a knife and hacked them on the head and neck, killing two and wounding one.

They have been widely proclaimed heroes, and rightfully so. They were instinctively moved to action, and two ended up paying the ultimate price.

Giving their lives for what’s great about America were 53-year-old Army veteran Ricky John Best of Happy Valley, who leaves three teen sons and a 12-year-old daughter, and 23-year-old recent Reed College graduate Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche of Ashland, who leaves behind grieving parents. Surviving a slash that narrowly missed the carotid artery was 21-year-old Portland State student Michah David-Cole Fletcher, an aspiring poet who finds inspiration in the cause of social justice.

It’s impossible not to lay some of the coarsening of American speech and conduct, especially among the racially charged haters of the extreme right, at the feet of President Donald Trump. Racism, misogyny and bigotry have been made more acceptable by his speech. His ascension to the White House has clearly emboldened maniacs like Christian, who might previously have been content to continue lurking in the shadows.

Tellingly, as virtually every other relevant American leader was expressing horror over the shocking savagery, Trump spent the weekend picking Twitter fights over German cars, Korean missiles, American reporters and European slights.

He took time Monday to recognize Memorial Day, but it wasn’t until Tuesday, following a cascade of criticism, that he finally issued a tepid statement declaring such acts “unacceptable.” And we find that unacceptable.

Comments

RW

This editorial is misleading. It implies that the killer was a Trump supporter and right-wing. The editorial board is apparently not aware of all of the facts or chose not to mention them in this piece.

#1: Mr. Christian is not a Trump supporter but he has expressed support for Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein (the Green party). From Facebook posts: "Bernie Sanders was the President I wanted" (December 2016) and "I've had it!!! I gonna kill everybody who voted for Trump or Hillary!!!" (January 2017).

From this editorial one could easily assume he was a Trump supporter. I don't know about you, but I don't know too many right wing individuals who would support an avid socialist whom honeymooned in the former Soviet Union or a Green party candidate.

#2: While true he did express hate for Muslims. He also expressed hateful words for Christians and Jews and was against circumcision to the point of writing "I want a job in Norway cutting off the heads of people that Circumcize Babies....Like if you agree!!!" (May 9 2017). If not careful, based on the limited information in this editorial, one might presume Islam was the only monotheistic religion he was against.

This person was clearly deranged and in the end a murderer. However, the News Register editorial board's attempt to pin him as right-wing, and thus by association conservative, is as incomplete as it is inaccurate. The state of political discourse in this country is appalling. One reason why I did not vote for any of the main candidates including president Trump. However, using this tragedy to attack the right wing and indirectly political conservatives, is abysmal.

Rob

http://video.foxnews.com/v/5453758526001/?playlist_id=5198073478001

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2017/05/who_is_jeremy_christian_facebo.html

http://nation.foxnews.com/2017/05/29/jill-stein-weighs-portland-stabbing-trumps-america-doesnt-mention-attacker-was-supporter

Don

I agree with the previous comments by RW.

Based on this and other editorials, the editor appears to be intolerant of those who have opinions that differ from his own, particularly when it comes to President Trump. One Merriam-Webster.com definition of a bigot is: "a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.”

Don

E.J. Farrar

Bravo News Register, this needed to be said. Trump has been blowing the racism dog whistle since he first ran for office. It's no surprise that violent right wing extremists have been emboldened.

OregonDad

E.J. This man was not a right-wing extremist. That is fact, not opinion. And no one blew the racist dog whistle louder than Pres. Obama, always publicly criticizing our nation's police.

I completely agree with RW. Of course, this was a horrible crime, but it was committed by a deranged man who supported Bernie.

gophergrabber

Strange that this killer was a Sanders supporter. If any blame be placed it should be on Portland. The city that loves anarchy and despises personal growth that separates the successful from those that espouse anarchy.

Mudstump

Jeremy Joseph Christian is a mentally ill man who probably felt emboldened by Trump's hateful racist language. He is a self-proclaimed white nationalist. Trump and his rhetoric are responsible for the upsurge in hate crimes by giving tacit approval to the whacko extremists. This sick man considered himself a neo-Nazi. It would be a far stretch to think he wasn't connected in spirit to right-wing extremists. Trump and the extreme right need to own this one and acknowledge that Trump's rhetoric is toxic and unAmerican.

Jeb Bladine

Good to see spirited debate on this. Whatever one thinks the editorial implies, it does not label Christian as right-wing, but rather as a mentally ill white supremacist. Any interpretation of his politics should be suspect based on his self-definition of himself as a nihilist, defined as, "a person who believes that life is meaningless and rejects all religious and moral principles."
It's fair comment to criticize the editorial for drawing President Trump into the story, recognizing, however, that the editorial simply said Trump should take responsibility for "some of the coarsening of American speech and conduct."

Jeb Bladine

Good to see spirited debate on this. Whatever one thinks the editorial implies, it does not label Christian as right-wing, but rather as a mentally ill white supremacist. Any interpretation of his politics should be suspect based on his self-definition of himself as a nihilist, defined as, "a person who believes that life is meaningless and rejects all religious and moral principles."
It's fair comment to criticize the editorial for drawing President Trump into the story, recognizing, however, that the editorial simply said Trump should take responsibility for "some of the coarsening of American speech and conduct."

RW

How else is one suppose to interpret "especially among the racially charged haters of the extreme right"?

RW

treefarmer

The toxic “us v them” strategy of king Donald is tearing our nation apart. (And poisoning the international environment as well.) Bullies have been emboldened and encouraged on the playground and in the streets. Until we find a way to get the cancer out of the White House, it will continue to metastasize and stories such as this one will become more common. How long can we survive this assault on the values and character of America?

Also – “…..mentally ill white supremacist…..” is redundant.

Bill B

seems to me we have as many if not more "maniacs" on the left. Note todays shootings and the many violent protests. Again the news register leaning left!

RW

Well said Bill. Today's shooter was a Bernie Sanders supporter as was the maniac in Portland. It's hard not to notice the News Register calling out Trump and the "right" while I fail to recall condemnation of the "left" for the picture of the bloodied, severed, head of the president (Kathy Griffin) in an ISIS like pose. What about the partially taxpayer funded "Shakespeare in the Park" play in central park that portrays the assassination of President Trump?

kona

Remember the glowing tribute that Steve Bagwell gave for Hillary Clinton prior to the election and endorsing her for President. I don't like Donald Trump but let's hope the newspaper can show some appreciation for positive things the President accomplishes.

From the newspaper opinion, "It’s impossible not to lay some of the coarsening of American speech and conduct, especially among the racially charged haters of the extreme right, at the feet of President Donald Trump."

Would that also mean that "It’s impossible not to lay some of the coarsening of American speech and conduct, especially among the racially charged haters of the extreme left, at the feet of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton?" Has the newspaper ever observed the "coarsening of American speech and conduct" of the left leaning groups at all the protests?

sbagwell

A republican weighs in from the U.S. Senate, where he has a front-row view of this course, crude and bellicose bully:

President Trump’s rhetoric is “partially” to blame ratcheting up political tensions in the U.S., Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” connecting the commander in chief to Wednesday’s shooting at a GOP baseball practice in Northern Virginia.

“The president is at least partially — again, not any way totally, but partially — to blame for demons that have been unleashed,” Sanford said, noting that although Trump was not responsible for the shooting, his coarse rhetoric and encouragement of violence have fostered aggression and a lack of civility in the heated political climate.

“If you let these forces play out, I think we end up at a very, very bad spot,” Sanford said. “What happened yesterday was symptomatic of it.”

kona

There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump was not, is not presidential material. The problem was a long time coming however. A significant number of people reached the conclusion that Washington politics were disgustingly poor that they were willing to try any change possible. Donald Trump is the result. We should be encouraging positive results rather than illuminating everything negative. I hold the different factions of the news media responsible for doing their part. Their negative speculation is harmful. Their extensive coverage of protests are slanted and harmful. No doubt, President Trump has contributed the situation.

Bill B

Some time back I believe Mr. Bladine spoke to the issue of bias in the media. Seems to me that the News Register is now no exception.

sbagwell

The purpose of an editorial page is to express an opinion. Forthrightly displaying an opinion is what that section of the paper is all about.

When opinion begins to color what appears in the news pages, that's a problem. When it's confined to clearly labeled opinion pages reserved for that very purpose, it's not.

This was an editorial expression of the newspaper's institutional opinion. It carried the label and reflected the placement appropriate for such expressions.

That does not suggest some form of insidious hidden bias. It suggests a plain and simple opinion, with which you are free to agree or disagree.

In your case, it's disagree. And we have no problem at all with that.

Steve

Bill B

I get all that, but unless I missed it I have not seen any editorials from the paper or from "guests" that favored a conservative approach.

sbagwell

Conservative and Donald Trump are two entirely different things.
We have a long Republican tradition editorially. But it was always more Eisenhower, Rockefeller, McCain or Romney Republican, that is the say, responsible, forward-looking, problem-solving Republican. It was never mindless, extremist, far right, strangle government conservative.
We have always tried to support thoughtful, well-informed, well-intentioned candidates with well-established track records in responsible public service. For an example close to home, we would point to Ron Noble, whom we backed strongly in November.
Trump is as lacking in those qualities as anyone on the planet. In our view, he sets a terrible example for this honorable land and its proud traditions.
Our problem isn't his conservatism. It's his utter unfitness for high office, which seems well-established at this point.
Steve

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