This morning I drove up to what I expected to be a small protest on a rainy Saturday at the state capitol. Nearing Salem on Interstate 5 I began seeing vehicles adorned with various patriotic symbols, and stickers on cars from across the Cascade mountains with stickers that read “Re-open Central Oregon.”
When I got downtown I saw hundreds of exuberant demonstrators mingling together almost entirely unmasked, joined by many dozens of flag-waving, honking motorists in cars and trucks waiting in very long lines to pass in front of the capitol building. There were armed Three Percenters, Proud Boys, QAnon adherents; lots of red-hatted Trump supporters; and a surprising number of what appeared to be white middle-class families with adolescents, small kids gripping tiny American flags, and babies in strollers.
Here as elsewhere these protests seem to be growing, giving purpose and energy to the right and far right. Many people, of course, will be driven into the maw of the virus both directly and indirectly as a result.