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Mobilizing Resentment

by on August 12, 2012
 

In the early 1990s, national Anti-Indian organizations joined the Washington Association of Realtors and the Building Industry Association in Washington state to create property rights groups with sufficient funding and organizational support to defeat implementation of Growth Management environmental protection by altering the political climate. Key to that Wise Use Movement task was the recruitment of paramilitary white supremacists willing to threaten tribal and environmental activists, thus generating widespread fear among communities in fourteen counties statewide.

Four years into their campaign to mobilize resentment, eight white supremacist Christian-Patriot militia members were sentenced to federal prison for violations of explosives and firearms statutes, in which they planned to murder their political opponents. I later wrote an eyewitness account of this turmoil.

Today, in the Klamath River Basin of Northern California and Southern Oregon, tribes and environmentalists are threatened from a mobilization of resentment by the agricultural industry, with assistance from national Anti-Indian organizations. As Charles Tanner Jr. reports at the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, the nascent hate campaign is receiving active support from the Tea Parties.

Whether this confluence of white nationalism with industrial power will be able to derail restoration of the Klamath River is hard to tell at this point in time. What is certain, though, is that the reshaping of the political landscape there — as in Washington state twenty years ago — by white supremacists with industry backing, is unlikely to be one conducive to either conservation or cooperation.

*Additional information about the Wise Use Movement and its Anti-Indian component is available at Public Good Project, most notably Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound, as well as at the Center for World Indigenous Studies DayKeeper Press.

Wikipedia pages on the Militia Movement and the Christian Patriot Movement contain a number of helpful references. News articles about the connection between industry-financed property rights field agents and the militias ran in the Portland Oregonian in 1996, and in the Anacortes American in 1997. Neither are available online.

Steal this State by Paul de Armond and Jim Halpin, an article about Wise Use and county secession, ran in the August 17, 1994 issue of Eastsideweek; Merchant of Fear, an expose by de Armond and Halpin of Wise Use fundraiser Alan Gottlieb, ran in the October 26, 1994 issue of Eastsideweek, a defunct Seattle area publication. Angry White Guys with Guns: the Rise of the Citizen Militias, by Daniel Junas, ran in the Spring 1995 issue of Covert Action Quarterly. All three articles are transcribed on the Public Good site.The July 1996 FBI arrest of Washington State Militia/Freemen and the subsequent trial was covered in the Seattle Times, as well as in the Bellingham Herald by crime reporter Cathy Logg. The Herald stories are not archived online, but the transcript of the federal indictment of the Christian Patriots is available at Public Good.

Coalition for Human Dignity compiled a thorough documentation of the Christian-Patriot militias, but their online archive disappeared after they disbanded as an organization. Western States Center also compiled reports on Wise Use violence, but these apparently have not been digitally maintained. Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment played a key role in education and organizing in the Pacific Northwest, but disbanded at the end of the 1990s. For scholars, Political Research Associates has compiled a useful bibliography for Studying the US Political Right.

   
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  • roger erickson
    August 12, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Never heard of those 1990s cases. But I’d left Oregon before that time

    Not bothering to provide any documentation or references always undermines a cause, no matter how just. Methods drive results.

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  • Jay Taber
    August 12, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Thanks, Roger. I’ve added some links.

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  • August 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    One of the most frustrating aspects of civil society networks involved in defending democracy is that individuals and organizations come and go, frequently failing to maintain accessible online archives that contain vital information for those who might be called upon to fight similar battles in the future. This continuity is something I have attempted to accomplish without any resources, but even funded organizations often neglect to maintain useful archives after the immediate crisis subsides. Allowing these documents, lessons and narratives to fade from public memory makes society vulnerable to similar threats as those with firsthand knowledge retire or pass away–a preventable tragedy that I have difficulty understanding.

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