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May 26, 1989 - Image 41

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

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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.

DAN HARRIE

Special to The Jewish News

T

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
population.
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
destiny.
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
States.
"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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

39

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