Portland and the City of Shame

Unlike most of the spoiled children protesting at Jamison Park last night – I am a native Portlander, and know that most of the city does not live in trendy neighborhoods and frequents organic and vegan and gluten-free coffee shops.
Like most people in the country – I don’t make very much money.
Unlike most of the people protesting last night – I work with the poor, I don’t live off of some trust fund. I DON’T buy exclusively local and organic, because that is truly unsustainable and foolish. I support genetically modified food; and know that if it were not for genetic engineering, the world’s poor would starve even more than they do. I know that our ancestors ate locally not out of choice, but out of necessity, and died much faster because of it.
I DO believe in private property and the electoral college.
I DO believe in the right to protest – but I recognize the difference between suffering and privilege.

I am remarkably lucky. I grew up in the middle class, with sensible parents who saved for my education. But I also didn’t waste my opportunities drinking and getting high and fucking – which, you can be sure, is the main interest of the protesters last night. I saved my money and did NOT buy the latest iPhone, car or clothes. So I worked my way out of debt, even at an income level that puts me bellow the poverty line.

Unlike the protesters last night.

Among the protesters, a very few have legitimate grievances; a very few cannot find work and want real, recognizable change. A very, very few have no where else to go. These people should be pitied and admired.

The rest are looking for a party. You can see it every single damn day. You can see them tear apart and destroy the park, drink and dope up, and sink to the deepest dregs of the human soul. And then they dare complain that among themselves are people who are so opportunistic to steal what they leave lying around – when they are protesting the police that would stop that from happening.

I have never been so deeply ashamed of the city of my birth, because these people have the disgusting ego to think themselves heroes. They protested one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city – but also where the highest amount of subsidized housing is located. They did not take their fight to the rich – to the southwest or Lake Oswego or the Hills. Perhaps because the Warren Buffets and Phil Knights would be so deeply unimpressed by their childish noise. Like cowards, they took it to the people who are trying desperately to get by, but don’t fight meaningless battles. They are the people who have families to feed, and cannot waste time protesting the only system of government on earth that has not ended in a blood bath in its history.

I am ashamed of this city. I am ashamed of a mayor that is more interested in currying favor than upholding the laws he was sworn to protect. I am ashamed of this city for wanting clean, safe parks and not being willing to support the people that would make it happen. I am ashamed of the journalists that are supposed to uphold truth and instead uphold meaningless credos of popular movements at truth’s expense.

I am ashamed of everyone who made a mockery of the right to protest last night by wasting it on such a stupid, useless battle. There are things worth protesting in the world. There is torture, child slavery, human trafficking, disease and death. You protested because you wanted to destroy a city park and foster impossible, Utopian communism. You hate the rich – but do you give to the poor? You hate the systems of wealth and technology that allowed you to group together and form this idiotic protest in the first place; your cellphones, your facebooks, your twitters. Shame on you all.

You are not the 99%, and shame on you for daring to defame them. The 99% were the people having to watch you trash this piece of nature in the middle of the city – the ones waiting in the cold and damp until sunrise to return to their families exhausted, but with a little more money to get by another day.

The child who is dying of starvation in Somalia is not impressed that you’ve camped in a publicly funded park for the last month – a park that would not exist were it not for the taxes you hate and the government you protest.

The woman who was kidnapped and raped and sold into prostitution in Eastern Europe does not feel bad for you.

The Noble Prize committee is not impressed.

And you have shamed a hardworking nation. A nation whose principles of freedom of speech were meant for something much higher than you have reduced them to. Were meant to guard against real tyranny, not because you felt like impressing your friends.

And I am deeply ashamed.

My father who left at two and didn't come home until six in the morning.


About emilydnelson

A recent graduate of Hofstra University with a B.A. in anthropology, Emily is like every other twenty-two year old on the planet - trying to figure out what the hell to do now. Follow as she struggles with writing, her social work job, and bopping from coast to coast.
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One Response to Portland and the City of Shame

  1. Pingback: It’s Our 100th Episode, YAY! | The Undiscovered Country

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