By Cameron Rasmusson
Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, is once again courting controversy after sharing an article on Facebook defending white nationalism.
A response to the violent clashes in Charlottesville that left one counter-protester, Heather Heyer, dead at the hands of a Nazi sympathizer, the article claims that white people who are proud of their country will inevitably be branded as racists.
Quoting from the article, Scott posted the following: “The way the media has set this up, the mention of white nationalist (sic), which is no more than a Caucasian who for (sic) the Constitution and making America great again, and confusing it with term (sic), ‘white supremacist’ which is extreme racism. Therefore, if one is ‘guilty’ of being white, one is clearly racist.”
The article reinvents the commonly accepted definition of white nationalism. According to the FBI, white nationalism is a movement centered around the establishment of a white homeland. Adherents believe the white race is under attack from a Jewish-controlled government and finance, media and entertainment industries. Considering multiculturalism, diversity and immigration to be direct attacks on white identity, white nationalists call race-mixing “white genocide” and believe a race war to be inevitable.
Those beliefs were reflected in the chants of the Charlottesville protesters, who shouted phrases like “Jews will not replace us,” “One people, one nation, end immigration” and the Nazi slogan, “Blood and soil.”
This isn’t Scott’s first brush with controversy. In 2015, she raised ire by posing with a Confederate flag despite North Idaho’s rocky history with white supremacy movements. That same year, she voted in committee to kill a child support bill out of fears over Islamic Shariah law, which required the Legislature to meet in special session and revive the bill. And early this year, Scott had her committee assignments stripped from her by Idaho House leadership after insinuating that female legislators trade sexual favors for leadership positions. According to her legislative colleagues, she also cut a wire above her desk, thinking it might be a listening device.
The instances of unusual behavior will likely be an election issue in 2018, when Scott faces Republican Central Committee member Mike Boeck in the GOP primary.
Scott did not respond to a request for comment by press time Wednesday.
Other Idaho politicians responded in their own ways to the violence. U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador is the latest to weigh in, saying he was reluctant to comment because he was likely the only major Idaho politician to experience racial discrimination.
“I detest white supremacy as much as I detest black nationalism and other forms of identity politics,” he said. “As a public servant, as a man of faith and as an American I abhor and condemn the violence, racism and bigotry we saw in Charlottesville.”
Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch were quicker to respond.
“I condemn and reject the racism and hate perpetuated by white supremacist groups,” Crapo said. “In the wake of this horrific tragedy, let us gather in solidarity with those who lost loved ones and draw closer to the families whose lives have been forever shattered by Saturday’s events. As others and I noted during a recent gathering at the Anne Frank memorial, Idaho and our nation are too great for hate.”
“The hateful acts of racism we witnessed in Charlottesville this weekend are reprehensible, and I condemn them in the strongest terms,” said Risch. “White supremacy — and every other form of prejudice — does not represent our American values. Vicki joins me in praying for the families of those who lost their lives and for those who were injured.”
District 1 Idaho Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, said simply: “I condemn in the strongest possible terms racism and white nationalism.”
Finally, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter connected the events to Idaho’s own struggles with white supremacy.
“Idaho joins Charlottesville and the world in condemning white-supremacist violence,” he said. “We’ve experienced those problems in Idaho, but we dealt with them in the right way, and we’re not going to tolerate it again. Hate groups just aren’t welcome here.”
Indeed, Sandpoint hasn’t quite shaken the memory of white supremacist vitriol. Just last week, an unknown individual or individuals sent a mass email depicting Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad in a Nazi gas chamber. The image advertised The Daily Stormer, the white supremacist website instrumental in organizing the Charlottesville protests. The website went dark Tuesday after GoDaddy and Google ended its service. Likewise, more racist flyers with anti-black rhetoric showed up in some local mailboxes over the weekend.