Self-proclaimed European-American civil rights activist Stan Hess left his position on the North Idaho College student newspaper last week because the paper uses the phrase “illegal immigrants” to describe people who come into the country illegally.
Hess says he prefers the term “illegal aliens.”
“If I have to be basically handcuffed by political correctness, it frames the discussion in a way that is not conducive to free speech,” Hess said. ” ‘Illegal immigrant’ is an oxymoron.”
Sentinel adviser Nils Rosdahl said the newspaper adheres to The Associated Press Stylebook, which recently released an addendum that calls for journalists to use the term “illegal immigrant” instead of illegal alien.
Hess, 62, called the style policy “censorship and a violation of the First Amendment” in an e-mail to the entire Sentinel staff.
The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Hess a white supremacist of national prominence. He was formerly the California leader of the European-American Rights Organization, a group run by ex-Ku Klux Klansman David Duke.The Sentinel is a for-credit class – any NIC student can join the staff, simply by signing up and paying the fee.
Hess, 62, said he was heartened by his showing in the five-way race for a seat on the NIC Board of Trustees last November – he garnered nearly 12 percent of the vote – and wanted to stay involved on campus. He said when he joined the Sentinel that he hoped to write stories of interest to European-Americans.
But in his recent e-mail to the Sentinel staff, Hess wrote that he joined the class “as an exploratory probe into the mindset of political correctness.”
“I received essential intelligence, which will prove invaluable for the European American Community,” he wrote.
Hess has been active in anti-immigration work, attending rallies while working with Duke’s organization in California. He traveled to Bonners Ferry last week to talk about the issue with Gov. Butch Otter, who was visiting the North Idaho town.
He told Otter that when he was in California, he had been “pushed out of our state by illegal aliens” and didn’t want the same thing to happen in Idaho.
In an interview Monday, Hess said his activism stems from an incident in 1975 in which he was shot in the face and called a “white boy” while driving a cab.
Hess wrote at least one story for the Sentinel, about bus service at NIC, but news editor Holly Bowen said she couldn’t publish it because he was no longer on staff. Rosdahl said Hess was not a problem during the short time he was part of the class.
“He was the very first one to turn in his story,” Rosdahl said.