I had purchased tickets to the Portland Thorns vs. Washington D. C. Spirit NWSL soccer match, not long after the conclusion of the Woman’s World Cup. Saturday, August 17th was a home game for the Thorns, in the newly expanded Providence Park stadium. Providence Park is a great neighborhood sports venue (just up from the Pearl District) for both the Portland Timbers men’s team, as well as the Thorns.
After the headline-generating controversy of the “equal pay” lawsuit, and the Woman’s National Team victory at this summer’s World Cup in France… the NWSL has considerable star-power and draw, with over 20,000 fans in attendance. There were many amazing players on both teams, fresh from the 2019 World Cup extravaganza. Most notably: U S midfielder Rose Lavelle, playing for Spirit and U S midfielder Lindsey Horan, playing for the Thorns. The Canadian superstar forward, Christine Sinclair also made an appearance, playing for the Thorns.
What I didn’t realize when I bought the tickets (great seats… midfield, a dozen rows up), was that on this particular Saturday, the White Nationalist militia group, the Proud Boys had scheduled an anti-Antifa (sounds redundant, I know) rally on Portland’s waterfront… a dozen blocks from Providence Park. On our drive up I-5 toward Portland, we monitored the rally… and the huge counter-protest… on social media.
The Thorns organization had issued an early statement, indicating that they were monitoring the developing situation and that the safety of their fans was of the utmost importance. As we pulled into town, we envisioned (as had happened in the past) running skirmishes and teargas raging through the streets of downtown Portland. However, this scenario was not to be…
A half-hour into the march, the Proud Boys… hopelessly outnumbered by Portlandiers of all stripes… made a hasty and somewhat panicky request to Portland police... that they be extracted from the situation. The Portland police, not wanting to see an escalation of violence, agreed. They allowed the Proud Boys to march onto the Hawthorne Bridge and disband.
The hour-long protest was not without incident. Portland police made multiple arrests of individuals they identified as “instigators.” The obvious matchup was between the Proud Boys and the Rose City Antifa. Picture if you will… big, burly white supremacists marching in lockstep chanting some variation of Nazi sloganry… squaring off against skinny 20 somethings, clad in all-black, making a wide assortment of taunts, slurs, and superlatives.
However, the group who won the day… in alliance with the Rose City Antifa… was the totally amazing and oh-so-stylish faction known as the: “Pop Mob.” Here was an adversary of the Culture Wars who came ready to play. Dressed in flamboyant costumes, including one guy in a full-blown unicorn outfit… others in full-body banana suits… Pop Mob meant business. Their battle tactics were to demonstrate… through the theatre of the absurd… the complete insanity of white supremacy, violent protest and the general ineptitude and absurdity of culture war and identity politics.
The Pop Mob performance artists were equal-opportunity demonstrators. They poked fun at the Antifa and Proud Boys alike. At the end of the day... I believe more violence did not ensue precisely because both the Proud Boys and Antifa were a little embarrassed and downright humiliated at the absurdity of their ideologies... as deftly pointed out to them, by Pop Mob. Both warring factions dispersed without further incident, once the Pop Mob made the scene.
The Pop Mob’s action is a classic “Operation Mindfuck.” The idea of dispersing large, warring factions with the use of humor, mimicry, and ridicule is a brilliant tactical maneuver. As you know, Operation Mindfuck involves subtlety, so that those whose minds are being fucked, don't know whether something's being pulled on them or not. Consequently, both Antifa and the Proud Boys were suspicious that they had been made fun of… but couldn’t quite grasp what to do about it… so they went home.
I am happy to report that the Thorns vs Spirit game ended with a 3 to 1 result in favor of the Portland Thorns. The August 17th Portland, Oregon protest and Culture Wars skirmish ended with the result: Proud Boys: 0, Antifa: 0, Pop Mob: 1. What a blow against the Empire! You gotta love it!