What does this mean for our region?
Neo-Nazi doctrine is not a new to our region. The “Church of Jesus Christ–Christian” at the Aryan Nations compound north of Hayden Lake, Idaho, spread the ideology from the Inland Northwest throughout the nation for more than three decades, spurring a number of incidents of domestic terrorism. Founded in the 1970s and run by Richard Girnt Butler, the Aryan Nations drew followers from all over the country to the annual “Aryan Nations World Congress”.
The Aryan Nations Compound was bulldozed and the local group disbanded in 2001 after a civil suit bankrupted the organization, but its supporters did not just evaporate. Richard Butler himself lived on in Hayden Lake another three years in a home provided by a Sandpoint millionaire. He died peacefully in his sleep of congestive heart failure at the age of 86.
Neo-Nazi doctrine never goes away, it hides until the conditions once again turn favorable. It is no secret that former President Trump in part owed his office to his racist dog whistles to the extreme racist right. (the Charlottesville chant, “Jews will not replace us” responded to by Trump with “good people on both sides”).
Apparently, conditions in the wake of the Trump regime are now favorable:
This planned Hayden Lake white-power gathering has caused a stir in the Hayden Lake City Council. During the comment period at the February 22 meeting, Jeanette Laster, representing the Human Rights Education Institute, cited the white-power gathering and proposed that the Hayden Lake City Council pass a resolution condemning the doctrine of white supremacy. Apparently insulted by the proposal, a three and half year resident of Hayden Lake, Linda Putz, arose spontaneously to object to a condemnation of white supremacy, “The term nowadays, white supremist [sic] means you’re a Patriot. So I have a sign that I do carry sometimes and I say ‘Proud White Supremist’ because a white supremist [sic] is a Patriot.” Ms. Putz’ revealing commentary made the rounds on Twitter and on Reddit. The full context can be reviewed on Youtube. (That link opens to Ms. Putz, the proposal she was protesting starts at 22:16.) Laughably, Ms. Putz claims to be “probably the only minority in the room”. I recommend you click on any of the links and judge that for yourself.
White supremacy has a long history in the Inland Northwest. The area continues to beckon to those seeking a white homeland, sometimes thinly disguised behind appeals to survivalists and far right wing conservatives to move to the area and take over local politics.
The website, https://white-power.org/, of the group advertising the meeting tomorrow, the Aryan Freedom Network, is worth a look. Visit the Newspapers and Magazines tab where they offer links to “…newspapers and magazines that are Pro-White, Pro-Christian and Anti-Communist” or the Books tab, where you can read a breathtakingly twisted introduction to The Bible as seen through the eyes of white supremacy—or link with the famous Neo-Nazi screeds, Mein Kampf, The Turner Diaries, and White Power. Of course, all this exists in cyberspace. The shopping is online. The signups go to email addresses, no physical addresses given. However, with persistence, some brick and mortar connections can be found. Among the “White Power Stores” is “America’s Promise Ministries” featuring the works of Pastor Dave Barley(among others). America’s Promise Ministries has its physical outpost at 3000 GN Rd in Sandpoint, where “America’s Promise” has been festering since 1990.
Tomorrow in Hayden promises to top 54 degrees with partly sunny skies. Bring the family for an outing. Here’s the plan quoted from the Spokesman:
Love Lives Here CDA, a program under [the Human Rights] [E]ducation [I]nstitute, is holding a “Kindness Toss” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at McIntire Family Park in Hayden in response to the white supremacist meeting, according to the group’s Facebook page. The event is intended to spread messages of kindness.
It asks attendees to meet at the park, 8930 N. Government Way, around 11:15 a.m. to split into two teams. One team will hold “LLH” and “kindness” signs on Government Way and the other team will hand out LLH Frisbees and stickers.
At 1:30 p.m., people are invited to the human right institute, 414 W. Fort Grounds Dr., Coeur d’Alene, for a discussion about how the community can address the threat of hate groups. A former white supremacist, a law enforcement officer and three students of color and different religious backgrounds will be part of the discussion.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. Ms. Putz’ commentary came shortly before events in the Hayden Lake City Council meeting that led Mayor Steve Griffitts to resign from Council, a body plagued with controversy not unlike that of North Idaho College’s Board of Trustees. In an unsigned opinion piece in the Coeur d’Alene Press on February 25 Ms. Putz’ commentary and Mayor Griffits’ resignation are linked on a “slippery slope”.