On Nov. 16, Oregon House Republican leaders issued a statement urging Oregonians to stand together in the wake of a divided election season. House Republican Leader Mike McLane and Deputy Leader Greg Barreto's press release included these statements:
"Over the past week our state has witnessed an increase in ugly rhetoric and violent behavior. Protests in Portland have led to violence and property destruction. Students in our schools have seen a spike in prejudiced and hateful words and actions. Oregonians have pit themselves against Oregonians. This behavior is not only wrong, it runs counter to the values of the Oregon we know and love.
"Too often in times like this, we are quick to point the finger at the other side. It can be so easy to let the lowest common denominators among us define our opinions of entire communities. But if we allow ourselves to only see the worst in each other, our state and our country will never heal from the divides that are currently threatening to tear our communities apart.
"As Oregonians, we are committed to putting an end to the violence and hatefulness that has scarred the conscience of our state over the past week."
We're committed to "putting an end to the violence and hatefulness," too. Beginning the morning after election day, the Source Weekly began to receive calls and reports of incidents that ran the gamut from petty jabs shouted on the streets to reports that can only be categorized as hate crimes. While it's clear that racism and bigotry have not suddenly been invented with the election of Donald Trump, it's the President-elect's ongoing rhetoric against immigrants, disabled people, women and Muslims that have quite obviously fueled this new onslaught.
While Oregon's House Republicans haven't come out and explicitly denounced Trump's rhetoric, we read between the lines. Even Republicans, it seems, have already had enough. Even they, who by party affiliation are lumped in with the rest of Trump's entourage, can see that "prejudice and hateful words and actions" are bad for all of us. It needs to stop, and we commend the Oregon House Republican leadership for saying something.
While it's clear that their statement was in part directed at the fringe group of Portland protesters who destroyed property during the days-long demonstrations, it's also clear that even our local Republican party is dismayed at the current state of affairs on other fronts. From this, we predict ongoing divisions in a party that, while they've won the day in the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate and the White House, also includes people who will continue to balk at hateful rhetoric—and that may certainly mean divisions in the Republican Party in the years to come. We give kudos to the Oregon House Republicans for standing up against hate and violence, when so many of their counterparts are saying nothing or just going along to get along.
Now is not the time to sit and watch. Now is the time to speak up in the face of hate. Now is the time to stand together, to question our leaders, and to continue to question them even when they make it to the highest office in the land. Especially when they make it to the highest office in the land.
And indeed, let us not "let the lowest common denominators among us define our opinions of entire communities."