State Map of Oregon

Nearly four in 10 Oregon residents agree with statements aligned with white extremist views, according to a poll commissioned by a major progressive group released Thursday.

A majority of state residents support the ideals of a multicultural democracy, according to the survey conducted by DHM Research.

The poll was commissioned by the Western States Center, a Portland-based nonprofit that says its mission is to monitor extremism in the region and work to “strengthen inclusive democracy.”

The poll showed a “disturbingly” sizable population in Oregon from which extremists can gather followers and sympathizers, said Lindsay Schubiner, program director at the Western States Center.

“They are social movements spreading bigotry to attain political power,” Schubiner said.

About 40% of respondents said they strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement, “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage.” About 39% of respondents agreed with the statement,” White people in America face discrimination and unfair treatment on the basis of their race.”The poll was conducted in January with the release of data today under agreement between the Western States Center and DHM Research.

The poll was done as “a community service by DHM Research in partnership with the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center,” a statement with the poll said. Both said they are independent and nonpartisan.

The poll asked 603 Oregon adults for their views on white nationalism, right-wing extremism and the strength of democracy in the state and nation. The estimated margin of error is 4%, DHM said.

The groups were weighted to reflect the gender, age, race, economic status and geographical location of the respondent.

The statistics were also divided into subgroups. The main geographical distribution covered three portions of the state: The tri-county region of Portland, the rest of the Willamette Valley, and the remainder of Oregon.

Just under half of those polled were satisfied with how democracy was working in Oregon. But the 49% rating was higher than the 47% who said democracy was working in the entire nation.

Four of 10 respondents believed “bad actors” across the political spectrum were responsible for violence in Portland and the rest of Oregon.

Far left activists were chiefly responsible, according to 14%, while 13% blamed far right agitators.

Another 8% blamed police and 4% pointed the finger at elected officials.

The remaining 22% said they didn’t know who was ultimately responsible.

The areas around Portland and the Willamette Valley skewed higher in percentage of those blaming the far right and police, while the third group that included all areas of the state outside of Portland and the Willamette Valley, was somewhat more likely to blame left-wing groups.

Overall, right-wing militia groups and white extremists were seen as bad for business and the state’s image.

They hurt the economy, according to 74% of those polled. The armed groups created a dangerous situation, 69% said, and 68% said laws were needed to prevent people from bringing firearms to public rallies.

The pollsters said more than 7 out of 10 respondents “were not buying” arguments by militia groups that their presence was to support law enforcement or protect the public.

Mild to strong support for militia groups was highest — 24% — among those who identified as “rural” Oregonians.

Schubiner said the key to limiting the damage of white extremist groups was to see it as a political and social issue, not just a police issue. The broadest and most vocal coalition of political, business and other leaders must speak out against militias and their ideology, she said.

“It’s incredibly troubling to see the spike in numbers” of public officeholders who openly sympathize with parts of the paramilitary, white nationalist movement, she said.

Eric K. Ward, executive director of the Western States Center and a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the poll was a wake-up call to Oregonians that there is a resurgence of racist, sometimes violent attitudes with a deep history in Oregon.

Ward said Oregon’s early years were built on “exclusion by design,” with a narrative of a white agricultural and small town society in a land devoid of indigenous Americans and Black people.

Slavery had been barred from new states by the time Oregon joined the union in 1859. But its original constitution did not allow free Black people the right to live in the state, with those who did not leave within a relatively short time subject to public lashings.

As civil rights spread in the United States after World War II, Ward said, reactionaries embraced the idea of the “Pacific Northwest Territorial Imperative” — a white ethno-state — which became part of the philosophy of groups from the Ku Klux Klan to skinhead Neo-Nazis and “patriot” militia groups.

When white extremism was pushed underground, its believers became “early adopters” of internet technology as a way to spread their message widely but less openly.

With more open support from some political leaders, Ward said white separatist ideas are resurgent. He included the “Greater Idaho” movement that would cleave most of Oregon east of the Cascades and fold it into what they believe is an ideologically more compatible government in conservative Idaho.

Ward said the movement is just the latest attempt to give political cover by presenting a white ethno-state dream rehashed as a strictly geographic division.

“Our rugged rural culture east of the Cascades is somehow incompatible with West Coast progressivism,” Ward said.

Ward pointed to the presence of groups such as Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys at rallies in Oregon, some of whom later took part in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 during the certification of the Electoral College vote.

Ward noted that extremists targeted immigrants and indigenous people of Oregon. They had defaced the Holocaust Memorial in Portland. Fliers with images of the mass murder of Jews during World War II were distributed by anti-Semitic activists in the district of Rep. Rachel Prusak, D-Tualatin.

Prusak believes she was targeted for supporting gun control legislation whose opponents include some extremists.

The bill passed the Legislature and was recently signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown. A group of conservative Republican current and former state lawmakers has submitted a proposed referendum that would put the gun law on hold until a statewide vote in November 2022.

Ward pointed to the actions of one of the referendum’s sponsors, Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence. The lawmaker is facing criminal charges and expulsion from the House for allegedly allowing violent protesters into the state Capital while the Legislature was in special session in December. It’s action that has historical resonance, Ward underlined.

“The willingness of a state elected official to open the door to those who espouse racial violence,” Ward said.

(9) comments

kindergentlerbend

DHM research is a highly regarded polling service and has done some valuable surveys for local governments. I would trust the results.

Skittish

When a study is done of any design, how is it that we know the results are trustworthy? Do you have any education or experience interpreting research, particularly polls? If not, why should anyone trust your conclusion they are trustworthy? Because feelings?

Janus81

The "Western States Center" is affiliated with now-ill regarded Southern Poverty Law Center, which is anything but objective. The idea that 40% of Oregonians are white supremacists is absurd, but a "push poll" can make anything appear true. Too bad, because the Capitol Bureau usually does excellent reporting.

RW

SPLC does exceptional work. They call out the extremists, racists and hate groups. No one can deny the history of racism in Oregon.

BuckeyeDuck

I see no affiliation between the WSC and SPLC so I can only believe that your comment is false and you are probably sympathetic to white nationalist beliefs.

LibGravy

Hey, BuckeyeDuck, you write that you “see no affiliation between the WSC and SPLC”. Maybe you missed the the part in the article where it states, “Eric K. Ward, executive director of the Western States Center and a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center…”. Kinda looks like an affiliation to me. BTW, just to demonstrate how objective and fair minded is the SPLC, they have designated Focus on the Family as a “ Hate Group”

Skittish

The new norm now is to call everyone with white skin "racist", deny the accusation of racism, and then immediately suggest all whites are racist. The statement "black lives matter" is true on the surface, but who said black lives don't matter? No one of course and what they are implying is that whites are racist because they theorize (as in Critical Race Theory) that light toned people are inherently racist and thus below them. That's just my 2c. Buck is a race hustler whose reason d'etre is promoting racial division.

BuckeyeDuck

I did miss that. Thanks for pointing it out. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I see the FotF is against abortion, while the SPLC, which reports on groups like the Army of God and anti abortion groups that have bombed clinics appears to be pro choice. Would that be the reason behind the hate group designation.

Skittish

As per usual you don't see anything right in front of you.

Here is a video of Brittany King and why she left BLM.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVPQI-blZAI

Here is a video debating CRT by Gothix:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBumyFsVfP4

They are both black females who think for themselves and have their eyes wide open. They are both on the dark end of the spectrum so you should be able to at least see them and not be triggered. Give em a listen and let me know if you have any questions.

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