I’ve been living in Portland for six and a half years, and I’ve walked to the top of Mt. Tabor several hundreds of times.
Until last October, I was always greeted at the summit by the statue of one Harvey W. Scott who, according to the inscription on the monument, was a:
MOLDER OF OPINION
AND THE NATION
Scott’s fame was largely due to his having been a highly influential writer for the Oregonian newspaper. He was a strong supporter of the Union during the Civil War, but apparently also fought ferociously in the so-called “Indian Wars” that decimated several native tribes of the Pacific Northwest.
It is for this reason that his monument was periodically defaced over the years, with blood-colored paint and graffiti accusing him of racism and genocide. (It is also the case that he was a fierce opponent of women’s suffrage, but no one sprayed the monument to press that particular point.)
Still, over and over again, I’d arrive at the top of Mt. Tabor to see that the graffiti had been scrubbed off, the monument’s stately authority restored, and the proud, stern visage of Scott standing haughtily and pointing commandingly off to the west. (What is it about images of “great” men that they always seem to be pointing at something? Have you ever noticed that?)
But last October, his statue was toppled from its monument and broken, during the “season” of similar responses to the murder of George Floyd throughout the nation. (Our then-president of the U.S., whose name need not be mentioned, proposed an automatic ten years in prison for anyone who damaged or destroyed a monument. This was one of his most coherent and publicly repeated policy positions.)
Today, if you walk up to the top of Mt. Tabor, you’ll still see the monument and the inscription, but no Harvey Scott. No statue at all. Just the concrete base.
Yesterday I walked up there with a friend and I recalled a shining moment – well, actually two or three days in late October – when Harvey Scott’s statue was temporarily replaced by a little psychedelic man. Back then, I took this photo.
My friend had never gotten to see the psychedelic man in real life. I showed her the photo on my cell phone. We both mourned his absence in a small but real way. It would be great to have him back. He was only around a day or three, but while I don’t miss Mr. Scott, I do miss the psychedelic man.
I don’t know what happened to him. Who would have wanted to desecrate or remove him? What did he ever do to anyone? Guess I’ll never know. (And I did google it, to no avail.) I’m pretty sure he never killed any Indians. And he may not have been a molder of opinion but I feel he was much easier on the eyes than Harvey W. Scott.