Montana Lawmakers Write Letter to Condemn Attacks on Religious Freedom by Anti-Semites

Montana Lawmakers Write Letter to Condemn Attacks on Religious Freedom by Anti-Semites

White nationalism and anti-Semitism have become growing problems not only around the world but in the United States, and particular focus has been drawn to the movement, calling itself the “alt-right” because of it’s support for Donald Trump.

In Montana, prominent Nazi Richard Spencer’s mother, who owns a business in Whitefish, Montana, has been getting blowback over her son’s activities. Spencer is president of the National Policy Institute, a so-called think-tank. He said his mother was being threatened. This led the racist Daily Stormer, which is not affiliated with Spencer despite ideological affinities, to issue a call to fight back for Spencer.

The site’s founder, Andrew Anglin, called for up to 200 white nationalists to march through town carrying firearms, saying, “Montana has extremely liberal open carry laws, so my lawyer is telling me we can easily march through the center of the town carrying high-powered rifles.”

This led to a group of Montana lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, to write a letter together, condemning anti-Semitism and calling on all Montanans to oppose this “extreme ideology” as un-American. Though neither Spencer and his mother nor Daily Stormer are mentioned directly, the genesis of the letter is clear. The authors of the letter are Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, and Republicans Sen. Steve Daines, Rep. Ryan Zinke, and Attorney General Tim Fox.

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Here is the letter in full:

Dear Fellow Americans,
 
As we close out this year and look toward the future, we as Montana’s elected leaders are focused on the values that reflect our true character. Therefore, we condemn attacks on our religious freedom manifesting in a group of anti-Semites. We stand firmly together to send a clear message that ignorance, hatred and threats of violence are unacceptable and have no place in the town of Whitefish, or in any other community in Montana or across this nation. We say to those few who seek to publicize anti-Semitic views that they shall find no safe haven here.
 
We offer our full support to the Jewish community, Montana families, businesses, faith organizations and law enforcement officers as they ensure the security of all our communities. We will address these threats directly and forcefully, putting our political differences aside to stand up for what’s right. That’s the Montana way, and the American way.
 
Rest assured, any demonstration or threat of intimidation against any Montanan’s religious liberty will not be tolerated. It takes all Montanans working together to eradicate religious intolerance.
 
We are encouraged that so many Montanans from a variety of religious backgrounds have joined us in condemning this extreme ideology.
 
God bless the great state of Montana and the United States of America.
 
U.S. Senator Jon Tester
 
U.S. Senator Steve Daines
 
U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke
 
Governor Steve Bullock
 
Attorney General Tim Fox

Spencer’s mother, Sherry Spencer, said that activist Tanya Gersh threatened if she did not sell the property that protests would be held, driving property values down. Gersh also allegedly demanded that she “make a public denunciation of my son in a statement written by the Montana Human Rights Network and that I make a donation to this organization from the sale of the property.”

According to Richard Spencer, whose infamous “Hail Trump!” drew a lot of attention to the alt-right’s Nazi underpinnings, “My mother did nothing for a few weeks, hoping the matter would die down,” Richard Spencer said. “Unfortunately, Gersh just wouldn’t let it go and began publicizing my mother’s property with the local media and even spoke to CNN, presenting herself, of course, as Little Miss Victim.”

He says Anglin cannot be blamed and that “I do not disavow Anglin & co., however, because I recognize that to disallow this kind of speech might lead to the end of all speech that someone might find ‘offensive.’”

Neither did Trump disavow Spencer and his fellow Nazis. Whatever the real facts of the case, America’s Nazi’s, who hoped to normalize their extreme ideology, have instead found themselves the unwanted focus of negative attention, not only by activists, but by politicians of both parties in the State of Montana.

This could not be the outcome they desired. Rather than normalized, they have been denounced.

Photo: Screen capture KULR 8

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