Podcast, Top Stories

Quillette Podcast 45 – Nancy Rommelmann on How Portland Became the Woke Capital of America

Jonathan Kay talks to journalist and YouTuber Nancy Rommelmann about how Portland became the most woke city in America, a phenomenon she wrote about recently for Tablet. She provides an update on the targeting of her husband’s coffee shop by an outrage mob after she expressed some reservations about certain aspects of the #MeToo movement, something she wrote about for Quillette in February.


  1. Martin28 says

    I hate this labeling, even by Quillette, of groups like the Proud Boys as right wing extremists. I have never heard a rational argument for doing so. I don’t like the political spectrum frame all that much, but even so there used to be objective standards for calling somebody right wing, and that had to do with authoritarian, oppressive nationalism, etc. Now, anybody who disagrees with the woke mindset is called a hater or right wing. That’s just a smear, and it creates this awful circular thinking where progressives can’t even consider whether they agree with somebody’s views. Progressive views are all pre-determined because you can’t agree with a hater. Nancy Rommelmann has found out how little justification is needed today to attack somebody today. Quillette needs to apply some rational thinking to this labeling, not enable it.

    • No sharia says

      Do you think the proud boys are social workers?

      • Martin28 says

        @no sharia
        Falling back on lazy innuendo. There’s a vast canyon between “not being social workers” and being extremists. Give me real evidence that they are a hate group or right wing. And not what somebody says about them. Do they call for policies that would oppress people and take away their rights, or do they just disagree with the woke position on something like immigration or refuse to be politically correct?

        • Xargothrax says

          Why don’t you elaborate the ideology of the proud boys so we can judge whether they are right wing extremists?

          A basic search led me to see that they are aligned with right wing positions regarding immigration and valorizing Western culture, and they advocate violence as a means to achieve political goals. Thus right wing extremists seems accurate to me. Aligning with Pinochet further justifies that label.

          • Is progressive:
            * hating Western culture
            * allowing all immigration
            * still advocating violent as a means to achieve political goals?

            Just want to know what all us “progressives” are supposed to agree with.

          • Define right wing views on immigration? And how exactly is valorizing western culture now considered right wing? Pretty sure western culture includes the liberal values of human rights, individualism, freedom of speech, press and religion, as well as equality of sexes etc. I would say these are all worth valorizing. The enlightenment and the Reformation, constitutional government as a check on the state also worth valorizing.

          • Martin28 says

            That you think “valorizing Western culture” is right wing says all I need to know how you define right wing. I really don’t know about the Proud Boys and have no idea what their ideology is, and they may not even have one. They are individuals and I’m guessing they have a variety of outlooks and reasons for joining the group. All I know is that all you need to do to be defined as a hater is to oppose social justice theory, so I don’t trust the labels. All you have done is parroted some things that you read on Wikipedia, and if you look at the sources it all leads back to leftists defining the Proud Boys. So somebody wore a Pinochet t-shirt, for God’s sake. How many millions of college students over the decades have had t-shirts and posters of Che Guevara? Does that make them extremists and haters? Wanting to punch Antifa hooligans in the face is not much of a sin, either.

          • Leah says

            Infantile ignorant comment. You obviously have not researched

          • notaluvvie says

            “A basic search”. No google algorithms at play there.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Absolutely amazing how the people here will do whatever they can to justify and obscure the nature of the Proud Boys while attacking the left with the broadest and most outrageous strokes possible. Yea, the Proud Boys are just a bunch of misunderstood fellas who love America. Why not stories on violence perpetrated by the Proud Boys, Quillette? They’re far more violent than Antifa, so how about a story or two?

      This place is a right-wing shithole, that’s why.

      • Martin28 says

        @Nakatomi Plaza
        Your position that the Proud Boys are far more violent than Antifa is directly contradicted by the recent events in Portland, where Antifa sent three people to the hospital with head wounds. Proud Boys violence on that day: zero. They were not even violent when Antifa became violent. When you say that the Proud Boys are “attacking the left with the broadest and most outrageous strokes possible,” you are equating words with violence. That’s social justice theory—try again.

      • Martin28 says

        @Nakatomi Plaza
        “This place is a right-wing shithole,”
        Just wanted to let you know that I voted for Jimmy Carter and HRC, and every Democratic candidate for president in between, including Obama twice, obviously. That’s how right-wing I am. The intolerance of the the left and identity politics is driving people away. This will continue because the left can no longer question itself, and the Democratic Party has sadly bought into this worldview.

        • Nick Podmore says

          @Martin28, ignore Nakatomi he is a troll who delights in ruffling conservative feathers. The facts are Proud Boys are conservative in outlook and juxtaposed to the left (which is now on the other side of Mao and Stalin) they will appear to be far right when viewed through the myopic lens of leftist inter-sectional woke ideology. Nakatomi, in my experience has never ever once produced a single fact. He, like most leftists just shouts and calls people names because he has no rational argument left….and probably little intelligence!

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Nick Podmore

            He? Now maybe I’m being a sexist, but I’d always thought of Nakatomi as female. The pure emotionalism, the lack of even an effort to argue a point. Does this not indicate a bitchy feminist mindset?

            “He, like most leftists just shouts and calls people names because he has no rational argument left….and probably little intelligence!”

            The leftists with rational arguments are still trying to figure out what just happened and to get themselves off the floor. While they were politely debating the increasingly mad-dog right, they were stabbed in the back by the mad-dogs on their own side of the front line. It seems that moderate lefties (and moderates in general) are the most intelligent of all self-identified political groupings, but that paradoxically has them surrendering the field to the lunatics because they have trouble keeping their lunch down given the general state of political discussion now. My friend K has left (departed) in disgust. How long will Klaus C. last?

          • dirk says

            Not so strange that he shouts Nick, but that he all the time, day after day, shouts HERE, on what he calls a shithole place. What I know from psychology and other blogs, that birds of a feather flock together and like to ruffle the feathers of their own liking with gusto. So, what attracts him so much? Sometimes I think, he might be undercover, or troll launched by Quillette itself, to have more life, color, diversity and disturbance in the barnyard.

          • Citizen XY says

            @Nick Podmore, “ignore Nakatomi, he is a troll”.

            Just a minor point, the correct pronoun for NP, based on NP’s choice of name, is “it”, not “he”.
            We should try to be considerate of NP’s feelings.

            Nakatomi Plaza is the office building in the movie “Die Hard”.
            It does seem somewhat ironic that NP would select a name for itself from a violence-filled movie celebrating a macho white male.

      • Ray Andrews says


        “So somebody wore a Pinochet t-shirt, for God’s sake. How many millions of college students over the decades have had t-shirts and posters of Che Guevara?”

        You’re trying to be reasonable, it will get you into trouble with both sides here. Quillette is slowly loosing it’s reasonable commentariat and will be left with 90% right wing fundamentalists + Nakatomi Plaza’s scatology. I had hoped Quillette would attract more moderates but that seems not to be happening. But the center must hold. Civil war otherwise. Comrade AOC and her Warriors vs. Trump’s Deplorables consisting of a vague alliance of every Hate group in the country — that being everything from armed Nazis to former lefties like myself who just want to preserve civilization. As Gus Grissom said: “Jesus Christ”.

        • dirk says

          A Pinochet shirt: I wonder, a Mussolini shirt in Italy? A Stalin shirt in Georgia or the Ukrain (maybe not at all so impossible), a Hitler shirt in Germany (or in Brazil ??, I met once a boy there far back in the bush, named Hitler as first name by his parents, it was a shy and quiet boy).

      • Chris says

        @NP: and yet here you are spending your time at a place you call a “ rightwing shithole” because………you’re just a pouncing kitty!

    • Peter from Oz says

      It may surprise you to learn that conservatives are right wing, as are most apolitical people. The term right wing meand traditionalist and small government. It also encourages a strong social bond rather than a political bond. it has nothing to do with authoritarianism.

      • Martin28 says

        In my experience, ordinary conservatives don’t define themselves as right wing. Up until the current decade, I think this term has generally been a synonym for “far right.” Granted, the term has been used loosely. Today, it is a synonym for “hater.” That’s a meaning that comes from social justice theory.

        • Xargothrax says


          So you are against labelling the proud boys, but also state “I really don’t know about the Proud Boys and have no idea what their ideology is, and they may not even have one”.

          Maybe you should learn about the proud boys and see if any labels apply, rather than blindly rejecting labels like an immature college student who just learned about deconstruction.

          You also claimed “All you have done is parroted some things that you read on Wikipedia, and if you look at the sources it all leads back to leftists defining the Proud Boys,” which is false. I looked up source material regarding the founders and leaders of the proud boys to gain information. So we see that you are already making assumptions that fall in line with your pre-established ideas rather than engage in an honest debate.

          You state “Wanting to punch Antifa hooligans in the face is not much of a sin, either.” Advocating for political violence is clearly an extremist position.

          As for valorizing western culture being a right wing position, I agree that classic liberalism certainly valorized western culture. But classic liberalism is not left wing anymore, and I’m not sure it ever was. In academia, certainly most of the humanities is critical of western culture rather than supportive. People who are conservative are much more interested in upholding past traditions, whereas liberals tend to promote diversity and multiculturalism. In today’s political climate, aggressively defending Western culture is almost always done from the right side of the political spectrum. However, I concede that centrists (or classic liberals) may take this position as well. So it is really done from the center to the far right of the political spectrum.

          • Ray Andrews says


            ” rather than blindly rejecting labels like an immature college student who just learned about deconstruction”

            He didn’t blindly reject anything, he admitted that he has not studied Proud Boy’s to any degree. Perhaps after long investigation he will entirely agree with you. In the mean time, it seems he has a skeptical view of overly nasty labels and would rather avoid them. He is to be congratulated for keeping cool until such times as it is clear that he needs to set his hair on fire.

            “defending Western culture is almost always done from the right side of the political spectrum.”

            Yes. Now think about that. If one supports WC and one finds that the Left is now opposed to it, one might feel forced to flee to the Right, no? What has changed? Has WC changed or has the Left changed? The Left is insuring that people who support WC have no choice but to move to the Right, even if they’d much rather there was a better choice. AOC and the Gang of Four might put DJT back in the Oval Office for four more years.

        • Ray Andrews says


          Ordinary conservatives like ordinary lefties and ordinary liberals understand that all wingnuts are equally dangerous. One can I suppose choose between AOC’s road to hell and Trump’s road to hell. AOC’s leads to Venezuela then to collapse; Trump’s leads to Guatemala. I guess I’ll pick Guatemala. Deepening poverty and insecurity for working people, but hey, money isn’t everything.

      • Bepa says

        Gulliver’s travels was written in 1721, before the USA rebelled. Jonathan Swift wrote a fantastic story of his travels that showcased the petty meanest of those in power in England. As I witness the leftist agenda against all that has made America the one place in the world many (most) people will break every law, risks death and injury to enter, I think of the king’s closing line and his summation. Here, after Gulliver has explained all there is to English government, religion, daily life, law and nobility. The king of Brobdingrag (land of giants) concludes the following.
        “My little friend [Gulliver], you have made a most admirable panegyric (speech of praise) upon your country; you have clearly proved, that ignorance, idleness, and vice, are the proper ingredients for qualifying a legislator; that laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied, by those whose interest and abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them. I observe among you some lines of an institution, which, in its original, might have been tolerable, but these half erased, and the rest wholly blurred and blotted by corruptions (for Gulliver it was the Parliament, for us Congress.) It does not appear, from all you have said, how any one perfection is required toward the procurement of any one station among you; much less, that men are ennobled on account of their virtue; that priests are advanced for their piety or learning; soldiers, for their conduct or valor; judges, for their integrity; senators, for the love of their country; or counselors for their wisdom. As for yourself,” continued the king, “who have spent the greatest part of your life in travelling, I am well disposed to hope you may hitherto have escaped many vices of your country. But by what I have gathered from your own relation, and the answers I have with much pains wrung and extorted from you, I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.” (Jonathan Swift. Gulliver’s Travels (Dublin, Ir: 1727) Book 2, VI)
        Gulliver was clearly a right wing extremist and the king of Brodingrag a woke, progressive prince.

        Too long, I know.

    • James says

      100% agree. There’s something very important missing from objective standards when you can’t see the trees from the forest on this issue. Wrapping oneself in identity politics (millennial, boomer, left, right, etc) whilst condemning it is also obviously problematic. Speak to me in objective truth.

  2. Simon says

    Her voice is very cute.

    I don’t know anything about legislation in the US but perhaps one of the mistake of the Portland city council was to try prohibiting white supremacist gatherings on the ground of the content of their speech. Perhaps they could pass a legislation distinguinshing a genuine demonstration from a parade and a protest.

    The goal of a parade is to display factional power, establish dominance on the public space in place of legitimate authorities, intimidate or harm the population and challenge an elected admistration. A protest is a gathering of citizens against a specific set of measures deemed harmful for the public good. On the other hand, the goal of a genuine demonstration is to promote the interest of a significant portion of the population, warn the rest of the population on issues of public interest and ask an administration to address the issue at stake although it was not on the agenda previously.

    I think this distinction is loose enough to accommodate a large variety of opinions but precise enough to outlaw some specific forms of militancy.

    On one hand, antifa vigilante actions and gatherings such as the one in Charlottesville fall under the first category. On the other hand, antifascist and nativist ideas can be put on the public agenda in as much as they are expressed through a certain layout. You can not say “We White people will recapture the public space over PC activists”. But you can say, I don’t know, “We, as White people, want our administration to address more specifically the issues faced by the more vulnerable segments of our community” or “we need affirmative action for some white rural areas based on socio-economical characteristics and not on race”.

    Contrarily to material political correctness, which prescribes what is sayable and what must be silenced, this formal type of political correctness only prescribes how it must be said and how it must not be said. You can defend any idea, as long as it fits certain standards of rationality, universality, feasability and collective utility. By compelling citizens to pay attention to the way they express their opinions and suggest specific public policies, I’m sure you can improve the quality of both communal life and national political debate.

    • In the US we tend to (or at least used to and still do in most the flyover country) believe you can say whatever you want to say and however you want to say it. The government has no role in regulating this, period. Portland knew it’s anti-hate speech laws are unconstitutional, they even admitted it during the debate, but went ahead with it anyhow. There is nothing defensible about policing what or how people voice their opinions.

      • Simon says

        Too bad. Freedom of speech used to be a bet on human intelligence, not a blank check for stupidity.

        Anyway, this kind of legislation is not supposed to regulate free speech but to regulate public demonstrations so that they can be conducted in due order.

        • Ray Andrews says


          “A protest is a gathering of citizens against a specific set of measures deemed harmful for the public good. On the other hand, the goal of a genuine demonstration is to promote the interest of a significant portion of the population,”

          You think the government can distinguish between ‘a gathering of citizens against a specific set of measures’ and the ‘promot(ion of) the interest of a significant portion of the population’? That’s like passing an ordinance that dogs are prohibited in the park but canines are permitted.

          “Freedom of speech used to be a bet on human intelligence, not a blank check for stupidity.”

          Yes. Unfortunately if you let the government decide which is which you will find that eventually you have no FOS but just as much stupidity as before.

      • Martin28 says

        @Jeffrey C
        Anti-hate speech laws are based on (at least) three ideas that are irrational. One is that you can measure what is in a person’s heart when they are speaking and say with accuracy that one person has hatred and the other does not. Another is that hatred is always bad. Another is that words are violence. In practice, hate speech laws are used to narrow the range of speech allowed to that which is approved by progressive leftists. That’s like giving the prosecution power to determine speech in the courtroom. This creates a fear of opposing progressive leftist ideas, and then a circular thinking loop to support those ideas. The most ridiculous ideas can then take hold, like, let’s let Antifa take over the streets.

        • Simon says

          @Martin28 : I might get smashed but again.

          I think you’re accurate in describing the political usage of the legal category of hate speech by leftists.

          But I’m more reserved about your understanding of hate speech in itself, as a legal category. “Hate” in “hate speech” is not about intent or behavior. “Hate” is not about the inner feelings of the locutor, it’s about the blatant content of the speech : being demeaning, cruel, insulting the dignity or threatening to harm. I can all African American to enslave Whites, and start as soon as tomorrow. Even if I make such a statement under a state of placideness, it should be characterized as hate speech anyway.

          Regarding words as being violent, you don’t need to study linguistics to understand that some connotations are transparent. The connotation of an insult or any derogatory term is obvious, without having recourse to contextual analysis. Furthermore, words are actions in themselves, and some actions are violent. Through the phatic function of language, you can deliberately hurt someone. Through the conative function of language, you can encourage some agents to hurt other. Through the performative function of language, you can create a climate of psychological violence. The semantic field of the words you chose and the very mode of your proposition are enough to characterize your speech as violent. If it’s an imperative mode, then it’s an indictment or an interpellation. If it’s an affront, then it’s meant to harm.

          As for hate as being intrisically bad, I think we can agree that hate is positive in as much as it is adaptative response adequate to the threats one faces in his or her environment, although it is a negative feeling such as fear or pain.
          The question is first to know if hate is an adequate response to political adversity. The second is to know whether the state, or any central political authority, has a role to play in regulating bad affects or antisocial behaviors while emphasizing prosocial behaviors and sympathetic affects among the political body. The third question is to know whether speech falls under the category of prosocial or antisocial behaviors.
          I tend to answer negatively to the first question, and positively to the latter.

          • Ray Andrews says


            Most reasonable sir, and worthy of rebuttal:

            “Regarding words as being violent”

            As you say, words can hurt. But we make a useful distinction between bashing someone’s head in, and hurting their feelings, don’t we? Liberal societies long ago decided that whereas I am forbidden to do the first, I must have the right to do the second because political disagreements can and even must hurt feelings. The line is only crossed when one actively incites the commission of a crime. That is the tried and tested standard for FOS and we let it go at our peril.

            I may express my opinion that Trump is a disgrace to America, to manhood and to humanity. The thing is tho that Trump would not try to remove my right to say that, nor would he cry himself to sleep. He’d probably say something rude in reply. I can also say that AOC is a profoundly dangerous person, but she might decide that that would be Hate, and send me to jail (or reeducation camp).

      • ga gamba says

        Portland knew it’s anti-hate speech laws are unconstitutional, they even admitted it during the debate, but went ahead with it anyhow.

        And all these elected officials vowed to defend the Constitution and the law in their oaths of office.

  3. Matt Jarn says

    How could you listen to this interview and come to the conclusion this woman is a Nazi?

  4. Truthseeker says

    The Proud Boys started off as a flag waving parody to expose extremism on the left. It may have been infiltrated by some anti-left extremists but that is about looking for a fight rather than any stated philosophy of The Proud Boys. However to the radical left zealots, anyone not as extreme as them is automatically a Nazi. Their low resolution view of the world is very binary – us and everyone else and everyone else is a racist, bigoted homophobe.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Nice work transitioning from a defense of a violent right-wing group to condemning the left for…what, exactly, I’m not sure. I guess you think that anybody who criticizes the KKK isn’t giving the Klan a fair shake?

      This place is goddam ridiculous. Antifa punches a guy and everybody here loses their shit, but an actual, right-wing group that explicitly advocates violence gets a huge pass from the readership.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Haven’t you heard, NP, that those were in the Klan are now all wearing black and are members of Antifa?

      • Martin28 says

        @Nakatomi Plaza
        “Antifa punches a guy and everybody here loses their shit”
        Nice minimization. Try this—Antifa hits guys in the head with crowbars, locks, and weaponized gloves, sending three to the hospital, one with a brain injury, others bleeding profusely. One victim was a journalist. One was helping an old man who was being attacked.

      • Nick Podmore says

        Oh Naki Naki Naki……our resident little troll emerges from his Mums basement! I am still waiting for you to state any kind of fact…? You always just seems to shout and swear and stamp your tiny little troll feet! Although to be fair you are entertaining much like small children can be!

        • dirk says

          Without Nakatomi, I guess the comment sections would be some 25% shorter, and, thereby, more to the point and easier to digest.

          • ga gamba says

            Why would you deny yourself the joy of additional, unneeded scrolling?

      • Saul Gerstenhaber says

        According to Nakatomi Plaza, the bruises to Mr Ngo’s eyes and face, and the brain damage by the Antifa’s beatings is just “some people did something”. Where have we heard this before?

    • Martin28 says

      That’s my impression of the Proud Boys as well. I wouldn’t rule out that some wackos have joined the Proud Boys, but the group was started as a parody, which shows a sense of humor. To my knowledge, they have never advocated taking away Democratic rights or using violence to achieve political ends (getting into a fight with Antifa doesn’t qualify). To call them a violent right-wing group doesn’t stand up.

      • dirk says

        yes Martin, it would be interesting to find out why some people join the Antifa or the Proud Boys, may I guess? Most of them probably don’t like the extremes, the violence, the fights, the milkshakes, they might have problems with their parents, or friends, and want to show off, and even if something naughty happens in the group, don’t want to play it out and loose their membership.

  5. Why did this devolve into a discussion of housing prices rather than ideologies?

    Why did the interviewer not ask some basic questions, like: Did you have to close coffee shops? How much of a hit did your business take? Is your husband moving with you to New York or staying in Portland? What were some of the statements with which the employees took umbrage?

    Terrible interview on an interesting subject.

  6. Asenath Waite says

    I watched some interviews with Gavin McInnes. He seems like a bit of an asshole, but certainly not a fascist or a nazi, nor a racist homophobe. Also he’s pretty funny, even if he is a bit of an asshole.

  7. Asenath Waite says

    My conclusion is that the Proud Boys are in no way fascist and Antifa is just fucking crazy.

  8. Gentsu Gen says

    (Proud Boys leader) McInnes has said “I want violence, I want punching in the face.” What more do you need to know? And what is the “proud”? It’s proud of being white.

  9. Rudi V says

    You know, I just don’t trust this chick, and that stems back to a few years ago when a business up the street from Ristretto Roasters got the SJW work over treatment. It was a breakfast cafe named British Colonial something or other and the SJW’s descended on them, “Colonialism is not funny!!!!” Yada yada yada. Ristretto, at that time had been purchasing pastries from them and very vocally and publicly threw them under the bus.

  10. dirk says

    I wonder what would have made the difference in case the US had not been a colony, but had had colonies (as all the major European nations had). In the NLs, colonial has a romantic nostalgic sound (we have many Colony restauants (De Kolonie)), I guess about half a million have either parents or close relatives born in a colony, or having lived there large part of their life, in England and France it must be much more than that. Here on my table, a nice, colourful tin with Richard Kenya Tea, from ….British Colony…..,bought last year.

Comments are closed.