By Cassandra Devereaux
n the days before the destruction of the Aryan Nations compound, leader Richard Butler and a Michigan-based former Klan Grand Dragon, Robert E. Miles, contrived a vision of the Pacific Northwest as a fascist white ethnostate. Both had founded Christian Identity churches, which interpret the faith through a racial lens. According to Christian Identity, Celtic and Germanic people are the true descendants of the prophet Abraham and, therefore, were God’s chosen people. It posits that when the Kingdom of God, described in the Bible, is established on earth, everyone but white people would be either enslaved or exterminated.
While explicitly Christian Identity churches are in decline, the ideas are still a motivating force for much of the far right, with implications for the Northwest. They planned to make Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana into a fascist white ethnostate in what was dubbed the Northwest Territorial Imperative. Sometimes called the Northwest Imperative, this is a return to the animating concepts behind Oregon’s Black exclusion laws; a plan to expel (or kill) everyone who isn’t white. It was the Northwest Imperative that brought Randy Weaver to Idaho where the Ruby Ridge siege resulted when law enforcement attempted to apprehend him.
Another adherent to the Northwest Imperative plan was Harold Amstead Covington. Formerly of the U.S. Army, he was expelled when he was caught distributing Nazi propaganda. Covington went to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to kill Africans in service of their white apartheid state. There, Covington founded the Rhodesian White People’s party. Even by the standards of white supremacist apartheid Rhodesia, Covington was deported for being too extreme. He returned to the United States, where he would eventually become leader of the National Socialist party of America. Prior to the Greensboro Massacre, he was already trying to build a Nazi-Klan alliance, and two members of his NSPA helped conduct it. Later in life he adopted the Northwest Initiative idea, and formed a group called the Northwest Front. Northwest Front hosts a variety of propaganda. There is a podcast, a blog, and a series of Covington’s novels which depict a ‘Northwest Volunteer Army’ forming after a fictional ‘Coeur d’Alene incident’ in which the federal government attempted to take kids from a white nationalist family to give to affluent liberals to raise. These books were also sold on Amazon until public pressure forced the company to remove them in 2019.
Northwest Front was referenced in Dylann Roof’s manifesto related to his murder of nine Black congregants at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17. 2015. Other admirers and co-conspirators are Chistopber ‘Coast Guard Nazi’ Hasson, the Nazi terrorist militias Atomwaffen Division and The Base. For vast numbers of U.S. Nazi groupings and individuals, their fantasy of the Pacific Northwest is the dream, their ‘blood and soil.’ Especially beloved by them is that capitol of hate, Coeur d’Alene. In recent years, many in the far right have been packing up and moving to the Northwest in droves. 93% white, Idaho has become home to many, and the once fringe white nationalist viewpoint has become mainstream.
Coeur d’Alene lies in Kootenai County, and the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee endorses explicitly white nationalist candidates such as Dave Reilly. A promoter of the deadly Unite the Right rally and former member of the fascist Identity Evropa, Reilly relocated to Kootenai County from out of state. This group rebranded to the American Identity Movement in the wake of Unite the Right. Reilly also regularly posts bigoted perspectives about Jewish people, women, and those in the LGBTQIA2S+ communities. Confronted with proof of this history, including a characterization of Judaism as “the religion of the antiChrist”, KCRCC Chair Brent Regan went to the right’s usual deflections. He dished out claims of ‘fake news’ and cancel culture, then compared Reilly to ‘inspirational’ Trump apologist and far right conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell. In the end, the KCRCC proudly stands by their endorsement of Reilly. Said Regan in a prepared statement:
“I believe Dave is a good man who will make an excellent Trustee and will resist the Progressive/Marxist indoctrination of our children.”
By ‘Marxist indoctrination’ they refer to the plain and unadorned truth about the history of the United States rather than the usual nationalist indoctrinations found in textbooks.
In March of this year, a recorded phone calll was released between a Kootenai County voter and KCRCC Youth Chair Dan Bell regarding a plan to subvert their Democratic Party counterparts from within. In the call, Bell says,
“Long story short, we want to take over the Democrat Party.” He boasted, “I know from personal observation that certain members of the KCRCC are masters of deception with an ability to twist the meaning of even their own statements.” With this claim, he detailed a plan to take control of the local Democrats by running undercover right wing operatives as candidates for positions within the establishment with the aim of subverting and taking over from within. KCRCC also passed a resolution in support of the notorious anti-communist and racist John Birch Society. Infamous white nationalists, such as Vincent James Foxx, post photos from KCRCC events where they pose with smiling politicians from Dave Reilly to the Lieutenant Governor. Foxx founded the far right media outlet Red Elephants and claims that 9/11 was a result of Jewish conspirators. He also attended the January 6 attempted coup and called the white supremacist Buffalo shooter, “right about white replacement”.
In a speech, Foxx said:
“We must have a deep desire to dominate without mercy, and if you refuse to dominate, then America First will dominate you!”
In the wake of the popular uprisings following the murder of George Floyd by police in 2020, over 400 far right militia members armed with assault rifles and military gear confronted a handful of anti-racist protesters in Coeur d’Alene who turned out to peacefully demonstrate. The mayor and city council praised the armed far right presence as ‘reassuring’. The far right shut down school board meetings that were to hear from public health officials during a Covid-19 surge. They harassed health care workers. Carrying military hardware, they confronted children during a LGBTQIA2S+ event at a public library. Militant fascists and white supremacists in general are on the march- quite literally- in Coeur d’Alene as they are all over the U.S. and Canada.
The Huffington Post quoted Shawn Keenan, who is nephew and cousin to the Keenans, who sued and bankrupted Aryan Nations, saying:
“They have completely rebranded what it is to be a conservative here in north Idaho, and they have literally excommunicated and cleaned house of any rational, regular conservative from their ranks.”
Of course, a ‘rational conservative’, like centrists and liberals, serve Wall Street. ‘Rationality’ in this use merely means a lack of overt allegiance to domestic extremists.
Leading up to the Coeur d’Alene Pride celebration of this year right wing influencers from around the country trumpeted the cause of ‘defending’ Coeur d’Alene from ‘degenerates’ and ‘pedophiles’. Both are code words for all folks in the LGBTQIA2S+ communities, referring to longstanding and fraudulent claims that associate homosexuality with pedophilia. Of course, pedophiles are overwhelmingly heterosexual and cisgender, not gay or trans. It was Reilly himself who asked the ‘Libs of Tiktok’ twitter account run by Chaya Raichik to send out the call to extremists to shut down Pride In The Park. Libs of Tiktok serves as a clearinghouse for right fury, serving bigoted outrage that is picked up and repeated by right wing media from Fox news on down. Idaho Tribune, a right wing blog that poses as a legitimate news source and which regularly promotes Reilly, tied the event to satanists. Of course, this was chum in the water to Evangelicals and Christian Identity true believers. According to a SPLC article:
“Anti-racist activists also tipped Hatewatch off to infrastructural overlap between a website that promotes Reilly by name and Idaho Tribune. Hatewatch reviewed source code for David Reilly’s website and the Idaho Tribune site and confirmed that the two sites share graphics from the same web-hosting account, meaning they are likely controlled by the same person.”
Another amplifier of the call to attack Coeur d’Alene’s pride event is racist Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson, who published the call on his blog on June 7. A British man and far right media darling, Watson was exposed in recordings published by one British outlet saying such things as:
“I really think you should press the button to wipe Jews off the face of the Earth.”
“Media f*gg*t activists [are] up in my face trying to get me to join the gay f*gg*t Palestinian cause. I don’t give a shit about Israel and Palestine. I care about white people. Not sand n****r Jew P*ki f*gg*t c***s”.
As has been widely covered without the broader context, white nationalist and explicitly fascist Patriot Front heeded this call. On June 13 of this year, 31 members of the formation were apprehended. Their intent was to attack the Pride event. This organization split from the neo-nazi Vanguard America after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The men were dressed in identical uniforms of khaki pants, blue shirts and coats, and baseball caps. The U-Haul also contained baseball bats, shields, and white balaclavas. Their intention was to assault attendees of Pride in the Park. Of these men, only one lived in Idaho, the rest coming from as far as Virginia. For them, as for white supremacists and fascists all over the U.S., Coeur d’Alene is seen as sacrosanct to their hope for an ethnostate. It is their fascist dream of ‘Blood and Soil’, the soil of the land soaked in the blood of indigenous peoples and that of the victims of Aryan Nation’s killers.
After Patriot Front was thwarted by community members who witnessed them on the way to the park, far right propagandists stepped in to blame everyone from antifa to nonbinary folk. Andy Ngô, who has a history of defending Fascists by blaming antifa, posted a photo of an individual with visible facial stubble, long pink hair, and eye shadow. He made the claim that this person went by the pronouns ‘it/its’. “It” is commonly used by transphobes to dehumanize trans and nonbinary people, and is almost certainly not used as pronouns by the individual pictured if by anyone at all. ‘Evidence’ of arrest for violence and drug use and support from antifa were posted by Ngô and spread by the far right media sphere. These claims are found nowhere else, and are certainly lies straight from fascist propagandists to inflame their audiences. And so, fascism marches on, gathering steam, even in Patriot Front’s failure.