The day after this right-wing attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue, the Oregonian newspaper ran an editorial praising the leader of Patriot Prayer, the Vancouver, Washington based right-wing extremist group with white supremacist ties.
A number of groups have called for a boycott of the Oregonian’s advertisers, until the publication issues an apology and/or retraction.
On social media sites, multiple local journalists and activists expressed outrage and shock that the Oregonian editorial staff would publish an article praising Patriot Prayer Leader Joey Gibson.
According to the Oregonian, Gibson is just mis-understood. He’s really for free speech, love, and unity. And, though not mentioned in the article, the extermination of immigrants, people of color, Muslims, and Jews.
In defense of the Oregonian’s decision to print the piece, editorial page editor Laura Gunderson writes, "Increasingly, I hear from readers who are angry when they read opinions that differ from their own. An Opinion page that readers universally agree with is neither advisable nor attainable."
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury counters: "The Oregonian has lost their focus. Giving a voice to people who live only to stoke violence and hatred is unforgivable. To claim otherwise is not being balanced, it's being complicit."
Here’s a sampling of reader comments on the Oregonian website:
In a letter to the editor, Christopher in Southeast Portland writes: “The misunderstood Joey Gibson" by Elizabeth Hovde [Hov-dee] is at best a very shallow and misguided view of Joey Gibson, Patriot Prayer and human nature as a whole. At worst, this glowing propaganda puff piece is just that: A propaganda puff piece meant to put bunny ears on a hungry wolf… To say that we as a people do not understand the power of words to incite extreme violence is patently false. Words have the ability to inflict the worst types of violence we have ever witnessed. Never forget the Holocaust started with a few words in a book written in a jail cell by a single man with a grudge. Words are just tools, use them to build bombs or to build bridges.”
And from other comments on the article itself: “Ms. Hovde should be deeply ashamed publishing this garbage piece, just days after we've seen radicals like Gibson murder innocents in a synagogue and send pipe bombs all over the country.”
And another: “My father and many Americans fought Fascism in World War Two. They would be spinning in their graves if they saw its being supported here in America.”
And another quoting American writer James Baldwin: “We can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”
One of the more concise comments on the article: “Excuse me, I just vomited after reading that.”
Let's hope the commenter used Sunday’s Oregonian to clean up the mess.