RE: The Recent Murders in PDX
Although at this point I think everyone is aware of what happened, I wanted to talk about the recent attack in Portland, OR. On Friday, May 26th, two girls, 16 and 17, took a MAX train headed for the mall. On their way there, they were confronted by an intoxicated 35-year old man, who began hurling insults at them due to the color of their skin and for one of the girls, the hijab she wore. Three men on that train stood up and intervened. The man hurling the insults pulled out a knife and slashed their throats. Rick John Best, an army veteran of 23 years and an employee of the City of Portland, died at the scene. He was 53 years old, and left behind a wife and four children. The second man was Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, a graduate of Reed College who had earned his bachelors of economics last year. He died at the hospital at the age of 23. The final man is Micah David-Cole Fletcher, a 21-year old sophomore at Portland State University. He survived and was released from the hospital Monday. The following charity campaigns have been launched to help provide for the victims and their families:
- (gofundme) Rick Best Memorial Scholarship Fund
- (gofundme) Max Stabbing Hero Army Veteran
- (launchgood) Muslims United For Portland Heroes
- (gofundme) Tri-Met Heroes
- (gofundme) Tri-Met Heroes Recovery
- (youcaring) Survivors of the Max Attack
I turned 23 years old on Thursday, and I take TriMet to work every day, and the thought that it could have been me is hard to ignore. As a member of the community, I’m painfully aware of the fear and the anger surrounding this event. Many of us here are shocked that such a thing would happen in a place like Portland, where we pride ourselves on striving towards being as open and accepting as possible. We’re afraid that the next time something like this happens, it will be our selves, or even our own son or daughter caught in the cross fire. Let me be clear, this isn’t just a one-off or a fluke. If you remember, there was the recent incident in Montana, where an elected official assaulted a reporter who interrupted him with a question. Or perhaps this Tuesday, on May 30th, when a man in California stabbed another man with a machete while screaming racial slurs. I look further back still, to Sandy Hook and Charleston, SC. These acts are not external threats, inflicted by some foreign enemy. These are acts by Americans, onto Americans, and that is perhaps all the more terrifying.
In times like this, I think back to a quote from the great Edward R. Murrow:
We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.
We cannot resign ourselves to the tyranny of violence such as these incidents. We cannot live our lives in fear, and more importantly yet we cannot tolerate violence in our communities. It cannot be acceptable to attack someone for asking you a question. It cannot be acceptable to attack someone because of the color of their skin, their gender, or their religion. It cannot be acceptable to murder someone because they stood up to you. Violence is a poison that stills the heart of our democracy. It destroys everything that has made America great, and hearkens back to the darkest and most vile moments of American history. We, as a community and as a nation, need to stand up when we see hate. We the people need to say something, and we will not be silenced by hate and violence. I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, White or Black, Christian or Muslim, what language you grew up speaking, or who you voted for. Your liberty is not won through fear. No, it can only gained with blood, sweat, and courage. We must be willing to work with one another, and we must have the courage to love our neighbors, despite our differences. This week, we give thanks to three martyrs, men who stood up and proved with their blood that, beyond a doubt, we are not descended from fearful men.
I’ll close with one more quote from Mr. Murrow. It was first uttered in June of 1953, and yet it remains ever-relevant today:
If we confuse dissent with disloyalty — if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox — if we deny the essence of racial equality then hundreds of millions in Asia and Africa who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the … confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought.