How White Supremacists Are Trying to Make an American Town a Model for Right-Wing Extremism
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In addition to calling on fellow right-wing extremists to move to the Flathead Valley, leaders of both the PLE and the Patriot movements in the region are urging followers to exploit Montana's weak firearms regulations by stocking up on guns, including .50 caliber sniper rifles and assault weapons, says Travis McAdam, executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, which closely follows PLE and Patriot activity, including online communications.
"With the PLE, it's the coming battle with Zionist Occupied Government, with the Patriots, it's the New World Order, but again the rhetoric is similar: 'A big fight is coming, so move with us to Montana where it's easy to get a lot of serious guns, because chances are you're going to need them,'" says McAdam.
Gaede cited Montana's "pro-gun" culture in a recent PLE recruiting message posted to the major white nationalist online forum Stormfront.
"The atmosphere of the area has a distinct 'Montana' feel and attitude. That attitude is to leave others alone and allow them to have their own beliefs and choices," Gaede wrote. "There is a strong pro-gun and pro-hunting population and one of the strongest Constitution parties that I have seen yet. Our Christmas parade still goes by that name and we have a nativity scene in our public square with a Baby Jesus... Come Home!"
This week in a four-part series, Media Matters will take a close look at the PLE movement in Montana as well as the overall surge of right-wing extremist activity in the Flathead Valley region. "What is happening in Montana -- thanks to this newest wave of extremists -- is a convergence of two 'separatist' ideas that have long fermented in the brew of Pacific Northwest extremism," reads a Southern Poverty Law Center report also released today. "The antigovernment 'Patriots'...want to establish a remote base of like-minded allies as a bastion of resistance for the day when, as they believe, the government will impose martial law. White supremacists are organizing around the idea of forming a long-desired all-white homeland far away from the multicultural cities."
Part two of our series will focus on the ideology and logistics of the PLE movement in Montana -- its origins, strategies, current strength, and ultimate goals. It will also cover the ongoing efforts by PLE activists to promote Holocaust denial.
Part three will provide background information on key PLE activists and cover a recent barrage of violent threats issued to perceived enemies including Media Matters. It will also report on the Montana Creators, the PLE-allied state chapter of the Creativity Movement, a particularly violent neo-Nazi organization formerly known as the World Church of the Creator. This year Montana Creators have repeatedly been spotted buying firearms at gun shows near Kalispell while dressed in clothing displaying their group's distinctive neo-Nazi symbols.
The final part in the series will address the ongoing spike in Patriot activity in the Flathead Valley, spearheaded by Chuck Baldwin, a fundamentalist Christian preacher and far-right Constitution Party activist who moved to the Flathead Valley about a year ago.
"We know there's a fight coming," Baldwin told a gathering of about 200 in Kalispell earlier this year. "We know there is a line being drawn in the sand, and we want to be in the right place. The good ground is right here in Montana."
There, Baldwin said, "Real Montanans will fight and die for the principles of truth, honor and freedom."
David Holthouse is a Media Matters' investigative journalist focusing on violent extremism. He previously worked for the Southern Poverty Law Center where he engaged in groundbreaking reporting on extremist groups. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The Nation, American Prospect and other publications.