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Witnessing the End of American Order

Christopher Bedford of the Federalist documents growing lawlessness in American communities.

The nation’s attention these past two weeks has focused nearly exclusively on Kabul, and rightly so given that the city has become the scene of the largest hostage situation in American history and a vivid image of the decline of Pax Americana abroad.

Yet Americans don’t need to travel 7,500 miles to get a first-hand glimpse of the end of American order. In many of our own country’s major cities, gangs of masked thugs and criminals do what they please — and our far-better-armed police aren’t allowed to stop it.

Take one August Sunday in Portland, Oregon, where two days ago masked gangs roamed freely beating people, including women and reporters, and even opened fire downtown. Meanwhile, the police, who have been threatened with government action if they intervene, are nowhere to be seen.

The results of this intentional breakdown in order are as immediate as they are sickening: Pitched battles between masked and helmeted left- and right-wing mobs raged across city blocks this weekend, with paintballs, pepper spray, fireworks, and beatings in broad daylight — and with limited-to-no police presence. …

… So where are the police, exactly? Law and order have slowly, and then rapidly, broken down in Portland for years, with images of besieged courthouses, lawless “autonomous zones,” open drugs and violent crime, and roving, organized mobs hitting honest newspapers across the United States nearly every week. Indeed, Sunday’s festivities were organized to celebrate a violent clash that had taken place the year before.

Amid it all, local and national politicians have repeatedly attacked and undermined the men and women who maintain order at great personal risk, cutting the police budget by millions and threatening further cuts along the way.

Then on July 19, the governor signed a new law that opened police officers using non-lethal, anti-mob force to personal prosecution.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...