The Nazis of Montana have been harassing and threatening that State’s small Jewish population since Donald Trump won the election in November. Just a few weeks after the election a synagogue in Missoula Montana received police protection after Nazi propaganda was disseminated in its area and a few days ago supporters of racist white supremacist Richard Spencer called for attacks on Jews in Whitefish Montana, his hometown, in retaliation for calls to boycott Spencer’s mother’s business.
So what happened now? Well a Nazi group has now called for a march through Whitefish, Montana meant to attack Jews. It has called on people to be armed during the march. Its organizer stated on his website that their, “lawyer is telling me we can easily march through the center of the town carrying high-powered rifles. Currently, my guys say we are going to be able to put together about 200 people to participate in the march, which will be against Jews, Jewish businesses and everyone who supports either.”
The posting about the march came with a picture of Auschwitz with the gold Jewish star which Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust above it. Pictures of private citizens were added as well. (These have been removed here.)
The Anti Defamation League has released an official statement condemning the planned march and its organizers and calling on public officials and law enforcement to take action.
— Billings Gazette (@billingsgazette) December 24, 2016
It said that the white supremacist called on people to “troll a Jewish journalist who wrote an article about the situation and a Jewish rabbi who encouraged people to send notes of sympathy to the harassment victims in Whitefish.” The rabbi in question had asked people to put a menorahs in their window to show solidarity with the Jews of Whitefish.
The statement said that the Nazi organizer told people to put Nazi flags in their windows and to put the Nazi swastika on their cars, homes and businesses in response to this. He also encouraged followers everywhere to send hateful messages to two anti-hate organizations.
Many public figures and religious leaders have come out and condemned the white supremacists and Nazi bullying.
Rev. Tyler Amundson of Helena Montana wrote an op-ed piece in the Billings Gazette calling on all people, not just Jews, to display menorah’s in their windows. “Further, we call on our lawmakers to protect the rights of all citizens by enacting laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity, race, and gender, ” the Reverend wrote. ” We urge law enforcement to closely monitor bias incidents and act swiftly to protect our citizens. We encourage our schools to teach tolerance and uphold state and district anti-bullying policies.”
— Billings Gazette (@billingsgazette) December 25, 2016
Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a brief statement saying, “let me be very clear: there is no time nor place for hate in Montana.”
Senator Steve Daines of Montana (R) stated, “this is not acceptable in Montana. We will work to fight this repulsive ideology.”
And according to The Whitefish Pilot, that city’s Council issued a declaration stating that it, “repudiates the ideas and ideology of the founder of the so-called alt-right as a direct affront to our community’s core values and principles.”
Local business owner Alex Maetzold, who is not Jewish, saw his Buffalo Cafe in downtown Whitefish targeted by Nazis on social media and with fake bad reviews online. He posted the following on Facebook:
“The shock we first experienced on Friday night when a white supremacist group had a call to action to ‘troll storm’ Whitefish for denouncing their leader and their ideas has quickly been replaced by the overwhelming feeling of support we have been shown from the local community.”
“The handful of hate-filled reviews we have received on Google have been thoroughly drowned out by the counter efforts of our community, ” the post continued. “Although your kind words in the counter-reviews were nice, it is the act itself that speaks the loudest about what our town is all about. The Buffalo is humbled by your support and thankful to have so many have our backs. Thank you so much. Stay up. We got this.”
The Whitefish Police Department has stated that it is sharing all information which it receives with the FBI, but its Chief, Bill Dial, does not seem to be taking things seriously. He was quoted as saying, “It’s just a bunch of people who sit in their basements and send out hate emails to get things going. I understand people’s fears, but stay off it. Leave it alone. Don’t fan the flames.”
History, unfortunately, has proven that it is never a bad idea to overreact or to overestimate the possible consequences when Nazis march in the streets.
But the Good news is that the man behind all of this may have just blinked. The Billings Gazette has reported that he said he would cancel the march if certain people promise not to harass Mr. Spencer’s family in the future.
You may have noticed that this post made no mention of the names of the Nazi organization, its website or the individuals behind the planned march and the bullying of locals. This was deliberate.