Among the stranger sights in Portland political unrest in recent months: the alliance of the Multnomah County Republican Party with the movement of nationalists, militia men and racial provocateurs known as the "alt-right."
An anonymous threat to attack the GOP in an April community parade led to the parade's cancellation—and to claims that the party was harboring white supremacists in its midst.
The Multnomah County Republican Party chair, James Buchal, said those claims were a lie—but then suggested he would use militia groups like Oath Keepers as security for GOP events. And he spoke at the June 4 "free speech" rally in Terry Schrunk Plaza, using the standoff between the alt-right and antifascists as an opportunity to recruit new party members.
A new GOP fundraising letter shows that Buchal is taking the rhetoric further: He's asking Republicans to donate to the local chapter to battle "threats of Leftist violence."
In the letter, dated June 19, Buchal paints a picture of Republicans under attack.
"Republicans have been losing the culture wars for a long time, but violent attacks against freedom of speech and assembly by Republicans may mark the last battle in the culture wars," writes Buchal. "The rise of a totalitarian Leftist culture that rejects the First Amendment and permits no disagreement on fundamental political disputes threatens the end of American ideals. Their propaganda is simple, evil and wrong: they call any and all patriotism a form of bigotry."
For much of the spring, far-right groups have battled in the streets of Portland with antifascist protesters, better known as antifa.
Buchal's letter downplays the spread of nationalist groups and racial trolls loosely dubbed the "alt-right," while borrowing much of their rhetoric that says the left-wing is violently suppressing their right to political speech.
He repeats his plan to hire Oath Keepers as security guards, and claims that protests by antifa are making Portland a dangerous place for conservatives. "Organized bands of masked thugs who call conservatives fascists or Nazis are rising rapidly within the city," he writes.
And Buchal says the Multnomah County GOP is running out of money—as a direct result of left-wing intimidation.
"Most recently, we lost the restaurant venue where we were able to hold our membership meetings without rental fees," he writes, "because of the threat of Leftist violence."
Buchal tells WW he has yet to successfully recruit new active members from the protests or bring in money from the letter.
Buchal says he doesn't identify with the alt-right, or support protesters looking for a fight.
When asked about growing fears in Portland about the threat of violence from right-wing extremists and neo-Nazi groups, he said that was nonsense.
"Projection is a classic psychological phenomenon," he says. "In the city of Portland there's no cultural hostility toward Democrats, and I don't see any threats of violence against Democrats."
His letter says the June 4 rally, held in the wake of two murders on a MAX train allegedly committed by a white supremacist, offered "positive messages."
"We saw many young people who are sick and tired of being called racists and white supremacists for standing in support of Western civilization and cores conservative principles like the rule of law," he writes.