'Little Beirut': America's most patriotic city

Carla Axtman

Irony has a way of showing its wicked self at moments so opportune...so ripe and juicy..that not taking a bite from it would be a sin. Or at least, a missed chance to have a little fun.

Portland, Oregon: America's most patriotic city

Take this, for instance:

We won't keep you in suspense: Portland, Oregon, is America's Most Patriotic City. But unlike in 1889, when a newspaper called Portland "the most filthy city in the Northern states," the evidence for the ranking isn't overflowing-sewers obvious. After all, how do you gauge patriotism?

We calculated the percentage of registered voters who turned out for state and federal elections from 2004 to 2008 (Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections); money spent on military veterans per capita (Department of Veterans Affairs); percentage of residents who volunteer, participate in civic activities, and/or work with neighbors (Volunteering in America); and finally, sales of fireworks and U.S. flags (SimplyMap and americanflags.com respectively). And before anyone e-mails us from Jersey City, there are no unpatriotic towns.

Some readers may recall that staffers of President George H.W. Bush referred to Portland as "Little Beirut" because of the protests encountered by Bush on his trip there.

So apparently that old adage is true: Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Or perhaps being deeply engaged in one's community is a catalyst to an ardent defense of it by protesting when it seems the community (and all that it stands for) is being threatened.

Perhaps if President Bush's staff had done that calculus, they could have understood the very patriotic nature of the Portland community. Or perhaps "patriotism" means something very different to them than it does to us.

Well done, P-Town.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    And let's not discount the whole flag-waving thing. The largest flag store in America is over on Northeast Broadway.

  • (Show?)

    In the comments section of the article, Gary from Portland has an interesting take.

  • (Show?)

    What is the source of the "Little Beirut" moniker? I was interviewed by a Bloomberg reporter yesterday about Dudley / Kitzhaber (note, the business press is going to cover this race closely), I used the adjective, and beyond saying "Karl Rove" and the Iraq war, I really wasn't sure of the source.

    After all, Little Beirut doesn't connote really really liberal, which is what I think Rove meant, it connotes ethnic and religious divisions.

  • (Show?)

    Ouch -- this is going to stick in the throat of the Portland haters in local right-wing media.

  • (Show?)

    I've always considered patriotism, in a Democratic Republic, to be better defined by the level of support you provide your fellow citizen. The more willing you are to pay into the system and help facilitate opportunity (meaning you keep your fellow man healthy, off the street, and fully able to take advantage of opportunity) for everyone, the more patriotic you are. Contrasted with patriotism in a dictatorship, which, of course, is the level of support for your leadership. If your definition of patriotism is waving a flag in support of your leader even though you know what he's doing is wrong and isn't using what you pay in to help all of your fellow citizens, you are a fine example of a dictator's patriot. In that sense, I don't really think Portland is as patriotic as it can be, especially when we still have so many people here who won't pay a tiny sales tax to support our schools, or raise the corporate tax to average national levels and use that to build better homeless shelters and provide better public health care.

    • (Show?)

      I'll welcome a sales tax when they drop my income tax and property tax. Please tax me on my consumption rather than my production.

    • (Show?)

      Yes Bill, there is a great divide between the extremes. Yet demonizing the side one disagrees with (which you decry, yet are so good at yourself) does nothing to bridge that divide.

      Our founders had a healthy mistrust of an all powerful government. Much of the disagreement comes from the role and proper emphasis government should have. How fortunate we all are to have a country where these disagreements can take place without violence and bloodshed.

      Have a happy Independence Day.

      • (Show?)

        Kurt:

        You and many others like to make the inference that progressives such as Bill and myself, unfairly demonize people/political parties etc. simply because they disagree w/ us, which is of course silly. These BP apologists and gay-bashers continually demonize themselves w/ their cruel and unempathetic values/principles/priorities.

        America doesn’t suffer from a lack of progressives trying to “bridge that divide” w/ right-wingers. We don’t suffer from a lack of bipartisanship or courtesy…we suffer from a right-wing greed-based, me first screw everyone else system that has nearly run this country into the ground and is quickly destroying the planet.

        There’s a very important place in our political discourse to speak in clear, moral, and truthful terms like Bill has. Sometimes the truth hurts, but we have to recognize these people for who they are. There’s a reason the today’s most popular conservative figures are morons like Glenn Beck, Rush, and Sarah Palin. It’s because the quality of today’s conservatives/GOP is for the most part completely pathetic and certainly not deserving of respect.

        Always can count on you to consistently defend the right-wing scumbaggery. Not very patriotic.

  • (Show?)

    Everyone has heard us called "The People's Republic of Portland." This just goes to show how much is in the eyes of the beholders and how data can better illuminate reality. Go Portland!

  • (Show?)

    What I like is that we volunteer.

  • (Show?)

    I'm guessing a lot of our community "espirit de corps" stems from being such a homogeneous place. I recall in 2000 Multnomah County voted 75% Gore; 25% Bush, and the rest of Oregon voted 75% Bush; 25% Gore, resulting in Oregon's 50/50 deadlock (second only to Florida). Also, Carla, the conclusion speaks well of vote-by-mail.

    • (Show?)

      Kathleen, Does this really speak well on MultCo? We agree because we're all the same, white, middle class, democrat?

      And our demographics and homogeneity are why our (and MN and IA and KS etc) have high turnout, not vote by mail.

  • (Show?)

    This is more interesting than the usual throw-away "best of" list. It used a methodology that includes things both liberals and conservatives think are patriotic. It captures both flag-waving and communitarianism. The results are a fascinating bi-modal distribution of ruby red and sapphire blue cities.

    It offers a nice chance to reflect on the nature of patriotism and try to find connections between very avid examples on both sides of the aisle. I like it.

  • (Show?)

    Anyone who's spent a 4th of July at any good vantage point (Mt. Tabor, Rocky Butte) knows that the most impressive private displays of fireworks are illegal, and that they are happening everywhere.

    So, according to the poll, Portland might rank high in sales of legal fireworks and, also, we have the thousands of scofflaws, on top of that! (Maybe we are the #1 pyromaniac city).

    Would this hurt Portland's patriotic ranking- that there is evidence of thousands of citizens openly defying law on the 4th of July?

    (Not that I really care about the ranking).

  • (Show?)

    Actually went and finally read the story. Wow. What a dumb list.

    Could retile this "America's Whitest Cities that have Legal Fireworks Sales" and you'd get just about the same lust.

    Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Hartford, Kansas City ...

connect with blueoregon