White supremacy in the Inland Northwest never went away. When Richard Butler and his Aryan Nations in Hayden Lake were sued into bankruptcy in 2000 we told ourselves the comforting story that the region had been cleansed of his ilk. We were wrong. Richard Butler’s ideas have been bubbling and festering here just beneath the surface all along. Two stories that appeared in national media in the last two weeks illustrate the point.
A superficially cute story entitled “Whodunit in the Library: Someone Keeps Hiding the Anti-Trump Books” appeared in the November 10 issue of the New York Times. The author, Mike Baker, picked up on the story from the local Coeur d’Alene media. Mr. Baker takes the opportunity to review the last time the Coeur d’Alene library dealt with book disappearances–during the 1980s and 1990s, the time of the Aryan Nations compound, a series of bombings, and Nazi parades in the region. The linkage Mr. Baker implies could hardly be clearer: the current occupant of the White House has helped inspire another wave of white supremacist migration to our region and a re-awakening that is starting to appear in local actions. It is time to pay attention. This superficially cute story has a hard edge.
On November 8 the Guardian published “Secret chats involving Republican lawmaker reveal fresh evidence of plots and paranoia.” another in a series of articles by Jason Wilson, a Portland, Oregon based writer. Mr. Wilson expands on his previous reporting of Matt Shea (Legislative District 4, Spokane Valley north to Mt. Spokane), Heather Scott (ID State Rep from Bonner County), Mike Munch and Caleb Collier (former City of Spokane Valley councilmen and Shea allies), and the intertwined Patriot Movement, the proposed theocratic Liberty State, and the Redoubter movement. The extent of these movements, the number of elected offices they have held and still hold, and their extremist views should give us all pause.
With the bankrupting, sale, and bulldozing of the Aryan Nations compound in the early 2000s many imagined that was the end of it. We were wrong. Not only have Aryan Nations and related ideologies risen once again in the region, but their believers are serving in elected office. It is long past time to pay attention before we make more national news.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. Here’s one for the department of “You can’t make this stuff up.” Richard Butler lost his Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, ID in 2000. A Sandpoint white supremacist millionaire, Vincent Bertollini, provided Butler with a place to live in Hayden Lake where he died in his sleep of congestive heart failure at age 86 in 2004. The year before he was with his traveling companion, Wendy Christine Iwanow, age 31, at the Spokane Airport when she was arrested on an outstanding forgery warrant. Ms. Iwanow “stage name” as a porn star was…wait for it…Bianca Trump.