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May 26, 1989 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-26

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Religious News Service

Unwelcome Guests

Utah and Idaho are fighting an
image problem created by the
racist. Aryan Nations.

Richard Butler, right, planned a major meeting of skinheads in Idaho.


Special to The Jewish News


he Rev. Jesse Jack-
son, during a Febru-
ary appearance in
Utahpurged the state
to change its national
reputation as a sanctuary for
the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations.
Audience members must
have wondered if Jackson suf-
fered from jet lag in apparent-
ly confusing Utah with its
neighbor to the north, Idaho,
the actual headquarters of the
white supremacist group.
True, Utah has had its
brushes with the Aryan Na-
tions. But those dealings were
hardly in the nature of pro-
viding sanctuary. Just 14
months earlier, widespread
public protest had forced a
racist radio talk show, "The
Aryan Nations Hour," from
the air after only two pro-
grams. And Utahns — from
government officials and
leaders of the predominant
Mormon Church to college

Dan Harrie is a reporter for
United Press International in
Salt Lake City.

students and organized labor
representatives — rallied suc-
cessfully against threatened
expansion of the Idaho-based
hate group into their state.
Still, there was no evidence
to suggest that Jackson's
remarks stemmed from a bout
of geographical vertigo. On
the contrary, Jackson ac-
curately represented percep-
tions by non-westerners about
Utah, where minorities make
up less than 10 percent of the
Those same perceptions app-
ly to the region as a whole,
which like Utah, is mostly
white and Christian. The im-
age of the northwestern
United States as a fertile
ground for racism and
organized hate-group activity
is one that is embraced, en-
couraged, and to some degree
manufactured by a few in-
dividuals who subscribe to a
remade theory of manifest
Some white supremacists
have proclaimed their par-
ticular designs on an area
that skirts Utah to include the
five states of Montana, Wyom-
ing, Idaho, Washington and
Oregon. This region, accor-

ding to the racist utopian vi-
sion, is ripe for transformation
into an all-white Anglo-Saxan
Protestant homeland — a na-
tion separate from the United
"People have flooded into
this region because of a
genetic instinct to live, raise
children and share culture
with their own kind," Richard
Butler, founder of the Hayden
Lake, Idaho-based Aryan Na-
tions, said in 1986. "They
leave their cities that have
been swamped by ghettos and
barrios and now new Asian
groups. This northwest moun-
tain republic is an idea. We oc-
cupy this land."
Butler is a transplanted nor-
thwesterner, a retired
southern California engineer
who in the early 1970s pur-
chased 40 acres in the Idaho
panhandle and set up a corn-
pound there. Shortly there-
after, he formed a branch of
the Possee Comitatus and in-
stalled himself as marshall.
But the vigilante group
disbanded after a few years.
Later, Butler established
the Church of Jesus Christ
Christian and its political
arm, the Aryan Nations. In



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