The AP published an article titled “Hate makes a comeback in the Pacific Northwest” and it set people off on both sides of the political divide. Citing the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups, the AP tied multiple groups to the recent antics of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee (KCRCC).
Back in April, Brittany Pettibone attended a KCRCC meeting to seek assistance in getting a visa for her fiancée to travel to the United States so they could get married in Idaho. Seems harmless enough right? The trouble is that Pettibone and her fiancee, Martin Sellner, are promoters of an ideology called “The Great Replacement”, an idea that the left is pushing mass migration of people from the Middle East and other non-white countries into traditionally white nations to destabilize existing cultures.
The same ideological rhetoric was chanted in the infamous Charlottesville rally and a driving force behind a serious backlash against migrants moving into European countries and immigration on the southern border of the United States. Sellner, the co-founder of the Austrian chapter of Generation Identity and donor to the suspected Christchurch shooter, has been refused entry into the country by the United States.
So, when an Idaho YouTuber connected with “Nationalistic” political rhetoric wants this branch of North Idaho Republicans to back her fiancee’s entry into the country, it raises a quite a few eyebrows and the media has a field day with it.
The KCRCC passed a resolution supporting Pettibone’s request. The KCRCC and Idaho Freedom Foundation chair, Brent Regan launched into a completely unapologetic and fairly sanctimonious statement online: “To be absolutely clear, the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee condemns all forms of racism and bigotry. The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee also condemns all forms of political violence and intimidation practiced by groups like ANTIFA, Indivisible and Reclaim Idaho, including publishing personal information (doxxing), intimidating employers, preventing the exercise of free speech, violent protests, property destruction and physical assault.”
Supporters of this branch of Idaho politics have since accused the media of promoting a false narrative that equates their actions to “white nationalism”, a dog whistle for the left that allows them to link Republicans to racism.
The Liberal Media Trap
It’s no secret that the mainstream media is left-leaning. We’ve seen the visceral hatred of President Trump and a coordinated effort to sink the Republican party and its leadership by the media through various narratives based on talking points that appear to be coming straight from the Democratic Party.
The story of “White Nationalists” getting help from a North Idaho Republican group was too good to pass up. They published the story and linked Republicans to neo-nazi groups by showing an old picture with a swastika in the article that mentions the KCRCC. It’s painful to see and makes us normal conservatives cringe. We want nothing to do with this.
The media talking heads keep missing the bigger target and giving these fringe right-wing groups the ammunition they need to raise money, build support, and rally their base.
One thing the AP got right in their attempt to link North Idaho Republicans to racism was the idea of a coordinated effort. “These are movements,” Hoover said, noting participants are not doing this alone. “They have interconnectedness over the internet.”
The media continues to take the “racist” narrative bait and unwittingly helps create something much worse.
Martyrdom is Great for Raising Support
On the edges, the ethnocultural identity ideology looks a lot like racism. Unfortunately for the media, it’s meant to be right on the edge and designed to get reporters to call them racists so people like Pettibone and KCRCC can go back to their base and say how the media is lying. They make compelling arguments that feed their disciples that they are in fact the victims of a vast left-wing media conspiracy to paint them all as “deplorables”. They call out some rational ideas on leftist hypocrisy, which is effective in drawing people in and then slipping in a “red pill” that leads their followers beyond the line of equality and safety.
The left fell for the trap and Regan and friends are enjoying all the media mentions which drive social media reactions which are likes, shares, and comments. They get to play the martyr card and whip up a flurry of support from disciples of their ideological rhetoric. With a state party convention coming up and delegates to indoctrinate, this is exactly what is needed to land their ideal state party chair… a Pettibone sympathizer.
The problem with this plan is that the North Idaho Republican party has been taken over by a fringe minority group that honestly believes they are the new establishment.
They represent less than a third of the party in terms of votes and even less when you look at the actual support base. It’s full of anti-vaxxers and anti-GMO environmentalists, fringe militia groups, anti-NRA progressives, and libertarian anarchists. These are not the base of the real Republican Party in Idaho.
This is not the first time the Idaho Republican fringe who call themselves “liberty-minded” have used white nationalism incidents to rally their base.
In 2017, Representative Heather Scott posted on Facebook, “The way the media has set this up, the mention of white nationalist, which is no more than a Caucasian who is for the Constitution and making America great again, and confusing it with the term, ‘white supremacist’ which is extreme racism. Therefore, if one is ‘guilty’ of being white, one is clearly racist. And if one is white AND loves America, they are a white supremacist capable of carrying out violent acts against nonwhites.”. She linked the post to an article titled, “Soros Dips Into the Nazi Playbook at Charlottesville”.
Kristin Haltinner a University of Idaho sociology professor was quoted in the Spokesman-Review article calling out Scott’s post saying, “Unfortunately Representative Scott is incorrect in her definition of white nationalism,” Haltinner said. “A white nationalist is a person who believes in a falsely claimed superiority of white people over people of other races and supports the creation of a white homeland, or nation; hence the term nationalism.”
This was red meat for the media. In their eyes, an Idaho Republican State Legislator was caught defending hateful rhetoric. Scott refused to back down and used the media attacks to rally support. The plan worked and Scott went on to get re-elected in 2018.
One of Idaho Falls State Representatives and medical debt collector used the Charlottesville rally to “double down”. The Spokesman-Review reported that “Idaho Falls Rep. Bryan Zollinger said Monday that he’s doubling down on the claim that it is “completely plausible” that Democratic officials staged the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, to smear President Donald Trump. And he said donors are pledging to give him money in response to widespread criticism of the post.”
Zollinger ran unopposed in the 2018 Republican primary and won re-election.
The formula is simple, use white nationalism stories to trigger the media, be the martyr and rally support from sympathizers who don’t like to be called racists.
Glorifying martyrdom works, just look at how quickly ISIS support grew thanks to social media.
The media wants to make this all about racism. Why not? It’s an easy narrative to promote and with nearly every movie, TV show, university lecture, news article, and political speech pushing this, it works really well. The trouble is that the other side knows this too, they create counter-narratives of their own that are designed to troll the left. These are what the fringe right-wing groups who have inserted themselves into the Idaho Republican Party do. They shroud themselves in robes of self-righteousness and pat themselves on the back for being intellectually and morally superior.
You see that is what this is all really about, supremacy. Not white supremacy, (although maybe some privately align with this thinking), but ideological supremacy. They believe their ideas are superior to everyone else. Where it gets worse is when they push the rhetoric of superiority to the point of enforcement.
Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Castro, and just about every dictator was an ideological supremacist. They stirred up hate and had millions killed to enforce their way of thinking.
Ideological supremacy is the polar opposite of equality. It drives divisive rhetoric that stokes hatred of the other side.
In Idaho, ideological supremacy takes things to a new level through enforcement. They form groups like the “Platform Adherence Committee” and judicial committees within the party to punish those who do not align with their superior ideology.
It does not matter what your race or religion is, if you do not agree with extreme ideals in Idaho masked as “liberty” and “patriotism” you’ve become the enemy and deserving of publishing personal information (doxxing), intimidating employers, preventing the exercise of free speech, and the threat of destruction to personal property. Not to mention the low-level cowardice of so-called memes and name calling normally relegated to third-grade bullies. We call out extremism on the left when Antifa uses intimidation to silence free speech and we are hypocrites if we don’t call attention to the same kind of abusive tactics when they are used by people who claim to be Republicans. We’ve witnessed these tactics firsthand.
Real Republicans do not engage in the hateful behavior of ideological supremacy and should call out all those who do.
Jennifer Ellis is a rancher from Blackfoot, Idaho. She has worked for over 20 years with agriculture and community policy. She and her husband ranch and farm in Bingham and Caribou Counties.