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Anatomy of An Assault in Portland, City of Professed Benevolence
As we watch the horrors and massacres in Israel, one person's terror closer to home
I am glued via my laptop/texts/WhatsApp groups to the horror unfolding in Israel. My dear friend Yael Bar tur, who lives in New York City, was home in Tel Aviv for her nephew’s bar mitzvah when the Hamas-driven carnage began. I have no words (yet) for some of the reactions we are seeing to the murder and desecration of civilians, whether by the killers themselves, or those who without shame celebrate and support the carnage.
What did it cost these students in Long Beach, in Cambridge, to come out with these statements? Nothing. As Yael wrote this morning:
But by far the most loathsome type of person is the useful idiot. This is the same person that thinks words are violence, but microaggressions are scarier than Hamas. They think Silence is Violence but violence is necessary for “liberation”. They want to “Decolonize”, yet can’t point to Israel on the map. They have an “everyone is welcome here” sign, but they oppose the Abraham Accords. The word “normalization” is triggering to them. They think arming terrorists is a human right, but arming police officers is genocide. They don’t want to condemn brutal massacre because they think Muslims support it so they will be offended, which shows how racist they truly are.
Yael sent me the essay, which you can read in full here, while taking cover in the stairwell of a hotel. Follow Yael on Twitter, and also, The Free Press, which is covering events with clearer-eyes and more honor than many of our news outlets.
Closer to home, I cover the assault of a doctor in Portland, Oregon, and how the city’s ostensible goodwill policies nurture addiction, violence and death. The lead:
It was a great first date, two-plus hours of conversation and martinis at Portland's Driftwood Room, with its Rat Pack vibe and lighting that makes everyone look 25. Mary Costantino was twice that, as was her date, a fellow physician from out of town. By 10:40 he was walking Costantino to her car, on a block she'd been on thousands of times. She'd lived in the neighborhood 20 years; the city's best public high school, which her sons attended, was in eyesight. The couple held hands and chatted as they moved down the street.
And then Costantino wasn't moving. She was on the ground, her vision blurring, her mouth full of blood.
"There was no yelling, there was no sound of feet hitting the pavement," she recalls, of the July 28 incident. "It was just us walking and talking and then I was hit on the side of the head."
More like her face. What Costantino says "felt like a brick" turned out to be a metal water bottle, hurled by a man who, surveillance video would show, looked like any number of men on the streets of Portland: white, 30s, beard, dark hoodie, backpack. A man who, when confronted by Costantino's date, shouted "She knows what she did!" before stumble-running into the night.
Costantino registered none of this. She was concerned with getting the bleeding under control, bleeding and shaking that made it difficult for several minutes to unlock her phone and call 911. She did not hear her assailant yell that she had somehow harmed him. It was only later while watching the video that she noticed his hands.
"They were in hypertonic extension," she says, of her assailant's fingers, which he held splayed and tensed and away from his body. Having tended to people in drug and mental health crises, it looked to Costantino as though her assailant was in the midst of a psychotic episode.
"I recognize this as a physician a mile away," she says. "And the fact that he backed off when my friend confronted him, this poor person has seen some hard, hard times. This person needs to be in a safe place for himself, be fed, be nourished, be medicated, be cared for."
Instead, he and thousands of others living on the streets of Oregon’s largest city are on their own, despite the safety nets Portland has in place to help the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill. Which is among the reasons Costantino does not so much hold her assailant accountable as the city itself.
"It is inhumane, how we are allowing people who are psychotic or on drugs to live," she says. "It's inhumane."
Read the whole thing here, and if you appreciate this sort of journalism, please consider becoming a paid subscriber. Thank you.
Back now to Israel. Pray for peace.