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October 7, 2004
Are Portland Liberals Racists?

At the end of a Washington Post puff piece on teenage Democrat volunteers in Oregon, Evelyn Nieves writes in an unsupported and frankly weird allegation that seems to contradict almost everything she had previously written. Nieves reports on grass-roots efforts to get out the vote called "vote-mobbing", which just means that volunteers approach shoppers at malls and try to engage them in marketing questions designed to drive voters to the Democrats and possibly expand the volunteer ranks. In Portland, as Nieves writes, this is hardly difficult:

There's no question that Portland is Democratic territory. It put presidential candidate Al Gore over the top in Oregon in 2000, beating Bush by more than 100,000 votes in a state that Bush lost by half of 1 percent of the vote. Portland is full of tie-dyed, punked-out lefties, aging hippies and run-of-the-mill liberals, and they all seemed to converge Sunday afternoon at a peace rally in the northwest neighborhood that features the famous Powell's City of Books store.

ACT was helping the Young Voters Project vote mob at the rally. But asking people wearing "Dubya the Warmonger" buttons if they were registered to vote was like asking the people in the Portland marathon if they exercised. Asking them who they planned to vote for was like asking delegates to a Christian Coalition convention who they're supporting. Two of the volunteers, Ed and Roberta Schwarz, new to vote mobbing, found themselves getting kidded a lot.

"I'm voting for 'W,' of course," a young woman carrying a billboard with statistics on the number of dead and injured in Iraq told Roberta Schwarz.

So we're not talking about missionaries amongst the heathen, here. In fact, earlier in the article the two teenagers complained that everyone they approached was already registered (presumably Democrats) and that a good number of them had already signed volunteer pledge forms. But then Nieves finishes with a discordant statement from two of the young women that she fails utterly to explain:

The Oakland students, who were spending the weekend camping out at a Presbyterian Church, planned to join other volunteers with the Young Voter Project on Sunday night in calling people who aren't on the voter rolls despite having registered. They felt good about being in a state where the presidential campaign was alive and kicking.

"I'm not feeling as discouraged as I was yesterday," Floyd-Mayo said. "Yesterday, we experienced a lot of racism."

Floyd-Mayo and Simms are African American.

Racism? In Democratic Nirvana? This was Sunday afternoon in Portland, Oregon, the place where Nieves just assured us that Birkenstocks and tie-dyes represent business casual. They had been in Portland since Friday evening, having ridden a bus for several hours from Oakland to get there. So what happened on Saturday deep in the Democratic stronghold that exposed the two to "a lot of racism"?

Nieves never explains it. She leaves the reader to imagine hordes of Republicans in starched dress shirts -- whom she just wrote do not exist in Portland -- swarming all over Floyd-Mayo and Simms to insult and intimidat them. However, it seems more likely that the Birkenstock-wearing contingent had all of the opportunity to mistreat the two young women, considering Bush supporters are, according to Nieves, non-existent in the Portland area.

Even more likely, the two teenagers have learned the Democratic impulse to cry "racism" without any support whatsoever in order to intimidate people and shut down debate. Nieves obviously knows how to do that with her reporting. It looks like the Democratic training process in Oregon has produced their usual results.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 7, 2004 5:07 AM

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