I had dinner last week with a friend who said she’d noticed something consistent with the protesters, no matter what part of the country they were in.
“They do things like stand in front of someone’s car and, when the car tries to move, claim they’re about to be run over,” she said. “They basically put themselves in danger and then make you responsible for keeping them safe.”
She referred to this phenomenon as safetyism, an idea introduced in Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s The Coddling of the American Mind, which described the concept as a “cult of safety… [that] deprived young people of the experiences that their antifragile minds need,…
…thereby making them more fragile, anxious, and prone to seeing themselves as victims.”
Though I’d read Coddling, I did not specifically recall the concept, and I did not, perhaps, both because it’s become the water we swim in, and because whatever defensive posture it once imagined for itself has long since gone on the offensive.
I thought of this earlier today when I came across a letter written by a reporter at a Portland newspaper, claiming the “publication of mug shots and personal information of people who have been arrested and charged with crimes at protests” was putting the arrestees in danger.
Leaving aside that mug shots are part of the public record and easily found online, I wondered how those committing the crimes had, just like that, been recast in the role of victim. I wondered whether they’d heard the old saw, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”
If it were true, as the reporter cited, that “one of the people [her paper had interviewed] has since left the state for fear of his safety,” I wondered whether he actually were afraid or whether proclamations of fear was the ante currently required, the dumpster fire you set…
…exonerated not by remorse but a public quailing, or an apparent quailing, in the face of repercussions.

*Hey, wait a second,* I imagine some people saying. *Publishing someone’s photo and personal information seems a little out of bounds.* I agree.
You may have noticed I have not linked certain details here. I try to keep the work on point, and unless I’m reporting a story and citing facts, I don’t see the mileage in plastering people’s photos online.
Is it the case that journalists at established and independent outlets put old pictures of me online, citing how my work puts people in danger (or that I’m a hack)? Sure. The same claim was recently made by an editor, who said my reporting jeopardized his reporter.
It’s all-danger, all-the-time out here, one difference I see being: I have never felt in danger, not when activists stole my phone, or roughed me up, or said they had eyes on me, or when in the past I’ve gotten death threats.
And about those last: they’re really not scary, made as they are almost always by people who don’t have the stones or the skills to come at you with their complaint, to engage in discussion; they hide inside their anonymity, inside their riot gear.
Things have been quiet for the past few days in Portland. Part of why, are the horrific fires engulfing much of the west coast, including more than a million acres in Oregon. The air is gross and dank and ominous.
Portlanders have been advised to stay indoors and all public parks have been closed. These factors have slowed the peaceful and not-peaceful actions the city has seen for 108 days straight.
With untold number of homes in danger, maybe young people are taking a break from saving the world save their family’s possessions. Maybe they’ll become less afraid when called upon to handle that which is unquestionably unsafe.

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More from @NancyRomm

17 Sep
I wondered last week whether Portland’s notorious rainy season might move in early and dampen activists’ enthusiasm for setting fire to police stations. Instead, Oregon got wildfires, which have burned more than a million acres and left at least ten people dead.
The smoke was so bad over Portland that residents were advised to stay indoors and all city parks were closed.

Can we credit the noxious conditions for bringing the nightly protests all but to a halt?
Maybe, though I think a hesitancy crept in earlier, after the August 29th shooting death of Aaron Danielson, by self-styled antifa supporter Michael Reinoehl, himself later killed by police seeking to arrest him.
Read 22 tweets
13 Sep
No, activists are not setting wildfires around PDX, tho my buddy is pretty sure 3 idiotic teenagers set a fire on Elk Island near his house 2 nights ago. We did have someone set fire to a gas line of a hotel; it didn't take but could have been cataclysmic archive.vn/pjaJM
I've read up a bit on the perpetrator, who is under arrest. He's had trouble with the law since at least 2012 (b & e; harassment); he's 36; his FB profile + photos do not fit any variation of the activist profile we've been seeing. Which could mean any number of things!
He could be a random hooligan, using the mayhem in the city as cover. Could be someone who locks onto any part of the movement in order to find a place to land/gain a sense of identity; I feel strongly this was the case with Michael Reinoehl (and will be writing more about that)
Read 6 tweets
2 Aug
My dad, who died in February, was a floor broker on the AMEX and later NYSE. Such crazy places; I clerked on AMEX a few summers. I'm not sure if from the outside they look sophisticated but man they are not; they're ridiculous and bawdy and loud/1
I did my Facebook monthly check-in and saw this: "I was a summer intern working for your father on the NYSE on 1986. I was just talking to my children about something he told me that I kept with me forever when I looked him up online and saw that he passed earlier this year..."/2
"He treated me with respect at a time I barely deserved it... I learned a lot from him. I just wanted you to know that I appreciated him. Prayers from here." My goodness! What did he tell you?/3
Read 9 tweets
31 Jul
Have had a lot of people ask me, "What will happen in Portland, now that the feds are clearing out?" I've also had several people tell me. My gut reaction, that things would cool down bc demonstrators need an "enemy" to demonstrate ag, seems to have held true at the courthouse
What's interesting: still no local police presence, though some part of the city is working in the bg, e.g., Lownsdale Square, staging ground/tear gas relief + comfort station, appears to have been cleared out. (This was it last Saturday.) reason.com/2020/07/25/por…
Better shot of what park looked like, and speaking of Riot Ribs: they're gone, after taking in $330,000 in donations in 20 days. Here's their letter as to why they closed shop RIOT RIBS 🔥 PRESS RELEASE  For Immediate Release						   To us, serving food was never about the money. We have everyaccess to the monetary donations because of the sense of urg. And about that...
Read 13 tweets
12 Jul
I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a chef friend from Portland, Oregon. For those not keeping up with the current cannibalism of Portland’s food community, it is engaged in an intramural suicide mission, “You can’t cancel me if I cancel you first.”
The names of the purportedly guilty are posted daily in the public square, aka, the once-adorable/now-abominable website Eater.

Sometimes, however, people can hear in advance the knives being sharpened.
My friend did, and contacted the key knife sharpener, demanding to know what evidence the sharpener had. The sharpener mentioned racism, misogyny, an allusion to fat-shaming, and then, with each claim stamped out, resorted to saying the conversation made her feel “unsafe.”
Read 10 tweets
25 Jun
Just after I turned 11, I took a cooking class in the home of a woman in my Brooklyn neighborhood. Once a week, she taught four other girls and me to cook.
The recipe I remember making most is fettucine alfredo, and I remember it because I made the dough from scratch, cut it into strips, and left it at my dad’s new place, with the note, “Daddy, I made the noodle dough and it is in the freezer, sleep well.”
Reading this, I do not think my father thought, “Well, my mom’s Italian so the kid’s safe there, but I don’t know if the ingredients are authentic so I better dump it in the trash.”
Read 20 tweets

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