Wednesday, February 24, 2010
A story on The (Portland) Oregonian website reports that 60 to 70 protesters took to the streets of John Day (pop. 1,500) on Monday to protest the planned headquarters of the white supremacist group Aryan Nations.
The Aryan Nations national director told the paper that Grant County (pop. 8,000) with its wide open spaces (double the size of Delaware) is perfect for a headquarters and national gathering in September 2011.
The Christian-based group has been largely inactive in northern Idaho after the death of its longtime leader Richard Butler in 2004 and after losing a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
It's great to see that citizens in Grant County in east-central Oregon come out to oppose this move by a group that hates Jews and non-whites.
Aryan Nations is currently based in Lexington, South Carolina, which makes sense, since that state started the Civil War. The group, though, may move to St. Cloud, Fla. Their website proclaims: "Stop the hate -- Segregate!"
Their website allows says: "The Folk, namely the members of the race, are the Nation. Racial loyalties must always supersede geographical and national boundaries. If this is taught and understood, it will end fratricidal wars. Wars must not be fought for the benefit of another race."
A picture of a tombstone on its website shows the birth of the U.S. on July 4, 1776, and the death by suicide on Nov. 4, 2008, when Barack Obama was elected president.
To be sure, Grant County does have its kooks. Afterall, it passed a ballot measure in 2002 declaring the county a United Nations-free zone. Maybe they were afraid of "black helicopters" that have been tormenting Idahoans for years. Another measure that passed allows residents to cut down trees on federal forest land without Forest Service approval.
And yes, Central Oregon has been home to oddballs. We had the Rajneeshees here in the mid-1980s before their world fell apart outside Antelope.
Also, the John Birch Society was strong in eastern Oregon in the 1960s. In fact, former Bulletin editor Robert W. Chandler was recruited by the Republicans to run for Congress in 1962 because a Bircher was a candidate in the Republican primary. Chandler won the primary but was crushed in the general election by Democrat Al Ullman.
But, the Aryan Nations is one group this state does not want within its borders. Oregon came into the Union as a "free" state, even though it prevented African-Americans from moving here at the time. We are largely a progressive state. We don't need to regress by allowing Aryan Nations here. Their "free speech" damages all of us.
The Dept. of Homeland Security considers extreme right-wingers to be a threat to our society.
We have enough hate here with conservative talk radio. We also have plenty of teabaggers.
We have enough problems without adding any more. Go away, Aryan Nations.