Hate’s young, organized, foot soldiers became visible on Olympia streets this past month. Beginning in 1985 Neo-Nazis and the Order of the Knights of the Pacific NW (established by David Duke in 1985) joined forces in the Pacific NW to target people of color, Jews and Catholics in our rural regions.
I and many others joined Bill Wassmuth, founder the NW Coalition for Human Dignity (NWCHD), whose mission was to expose hate groups operating in rural and college communities of Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon. These hate groups have well-documented, direct, ties to individuals in law enforcement-- facts well established by NWCHD, the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Several inland NW organizations provided an underground railroad for people (mainly women) seeking escape from abusive and rigidly paternalistic family/compound social structures created by enclaves of white supremacists. I was part of that movement.
Poverty and racist religiosity influence young people, mainly young men, who have no job skills and little education. Isolated in communities with no economic vitality, they seek direction, becoming easy targets for hate groups. Purpose, promised by these hate groups, using religious propaganda, attracts disconnected youth already tutored in racism/sexism.
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Young activists presently mobilizing against overt racism in Olympia deserve our support. Many of these progressive youth are Jewish, anarchists and social justice activists educated by their families, faith groups, community organizations and by our public K-20 educational institutions. Hate has no place here.
Liza R. Rognas