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Some Say Potatoes, Some Say Aryans

Christian Identity Pastor Richard Butler is shown at his Aryan Nations compound in Coeur d 'Alene. (SR file photo)

Idaho spends millions each year promoting tourism, but does very little to polish its human rights image, tarnished by scores of racist acts over the past four decades. Instead, the loudest, most effective opponents of hate in Idaho—those best positioned to help improve its  image problem—have been unpaid, grassroots human rights activists. Still, many Americans, influenced by a deluge of media reports over the years, continue to associate Idaho with neo-Nazis, the Aryan Nations and the latter’s founder, Richard Butler. In moving to North Idaho, Butler brought with him his leadership role in a white-supremacy-based religion known as Christian Identity—a position he assumed with the passing of his predecessor and mentor, Wesley Swift. Butler didn’t move to Idaho to quietly retire, but as a racist-activist, living in the public limelight and using it to attract followers. To some extent, he met his retirement goals/Bill Morlin, Boise State University Blue Review. More here.

DFO: Consider this a primer on the turbulent history of the Aryan Nations -- and the response by the human rights task force. Bill Morlin, a former SR colleague, is an expert on white supremacist groups in this country.

Question: When people in other states find out that you're from Idaho, do they mention the Aryan Nations?

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D.F. Oliveria
D.F. (Dave) Oliveria joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a columnist and compiles the Huckleberries Online blog and writes about North Idaho in his Huckleberries column.

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