Asked about the racist violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, Gov. Butch Otter today recalled Idaho’s own experience with neo-Nazi white supremacists, when the Aryan Nations was headquartered in North Idaho, and called on Idaho 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador to join the other members of Idaho's congressional delegation in condemning violent white supremacy; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. “We’ve not new to that – we’ve had those problems in Idaho before,” Otter said, “and fortunately, for the most part I think we dealt with it in the right way. They weren’t welcome here. They went beyond the line.”
He noted that after members of the group attacked a motorist who was driving past their compound, they were taken to court and “they lost all their assets.” The lawsuit bankrupted the Aryan Nations, which lost not only its compound, but even the right to its name; the compound was purchased by humanitarian Greg Carr, who donated it to North Idaho College for a natural peace park.
“Both as a population and as a government, I think we made a very firm statement that we’re not going to tolerate that in Idaho,” Otter said.
He praised Sen. Mike Crapo and 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson for their strong, prompt statements on social media on Sunday condemning racist violence and white supremacy; Sen. Jim Risch followed with a similar statement on Monday, but 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador hasn’t responded to repeated inquiries from Idaho reporters about his thoughts on the events; his staff hasn’t returned reporters’ calls and emails and hasn’t even offered so much as a “no comment.”
“I’m not going to try to put either words or intent into Labrador’s silence,” Otter said, “but I would just say that you’ve got to keep asking him. I’m sure in my heart of hearts – I don’t think he likes it any more than anyone else. What the rest of the delegation has done, I think it makes a strong statement for Idaho. As a congressman, I believe he should make a statement.”
Labrador represents Idaho’s 1st District, which includes the site of the former Aryan Nations compound.