Grand Distractions

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“… it will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by fear of looking insufficiently progressive.” ~ Charles Peguy

If I were seeking to unload a piece real estate and received an offer from a qualified buyer who worked as an organizer for the Communist Party, I’d happily sell it to him. Of course, the repellent politics espoused by the purchaser are based in a denial of property rights. However, by engaging in lawful, mutually beneficial commerce with that individual, I would be making him a hypocrite in practical terms while doing nothing to compromise my own standards.

I would apply exactly the same reasoning to an organizer for a neo-Nazi organization that espouses a slightly modified version of the same socialist perspective promoted by the Communists. In this case, the purchasing party would make himself a two-fold hypocrite by violating both the racial and economic tenets of his political creed (to understand why the former is the case, consult the photograph found at the bottom right of this article).

There are many people whose ethical calculations differ from mine, and who thus wouldn’t do business with someone who promotes one or both of those sibling totalitarian ideologies. There are limits to what I would tolerate, as well: Although I would sell or rent to someone who represents a despicable but powerless political cult, I wouldn’t be so congenial to someone employed as a revenue officer for the IRS.

If I lived in a rural community subject to the destructive whims of a federal agency such as the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service, I would be similarly disinclined to do business with officials representing those bureaucracies. This was the approach used several years ago in Elko County during a land-use conflict between local landowners and elected officials, on the one hand, and the socialist nabobs in the U.S. Forest Service, on the other.

In response to efforts by the USFS to lock up local lands, the Elko County Commission urged local residents “to let the Forest Service know what you think about this by not cooperating with them. Don’t sell goods or services to them until they come to their senses.”

Those who followed that course of action made a calculated trade-off: They were willing to forego potential profit in exchange for making a political statement of what they considered to be greater value. This freed up economic opportunities for others in Elko.

Customers employed by the USFS were able to buy whatever they needed. This didn’t stop Gloria Flora, the regional USFS commissarina, from whining about the “discrimination” supposedly suffered at the hands of local merchants, but all her petty complaints accomplished was to indicate that the message being sent by the proposed boycott had been loudly and clearly received.

(Full disclosure: Grant Gerber, one of the ringleaders of the “Jarbidge Shovel Brigade” that organized local efforts to combat the federal occupiers, is related to me by marriage.)

Doing business with proponents of unsavory political views doesn’t help to entrench the power of the government that is presently confiscating our wealth, threatening what liberties we still exercise, and stealing the future from the children we love. Unlike business dealings with agents of the official plunderbund, taking money from a radical socialist in a legitimate commercial transaction doesn’t involve the receipt of stolen property.


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I earnestly wish someone had explained all of this to the residents of John Day, Oregon last week when hundreds of people from that lovely eastern Oregon town suffered a collective loss of bladder control over the prospect that a handful of neo-Nazis might purchase property in Grant County.

John Day and surrounding Grant County, Oregon (cumulative population circa 8,000) have endured tremendous material suffering at the hands of the federal eco-bureaucracy, which — working in league with private sector eco-radicals — has used “endangered species” designations to ravage the local timber and ranching industries.

Grant County has suffered tremendously, in material terms, from the actions of the Feds. It has suffered nothing at all from the barely discernible activities of neo-Nazis. Yet a visit by a handful of Nazi-worshiping nitwits caused the community to tie itself in knots. I can’t help but suspect that this is a product of the weakness Charles Peguy described as a “fear of looking insufficiently progressive” — which in this case means a frantic concern that the mere presence of a politically unsavory person taints an entire community.

“That’s the last thing our reputation needs,” moaned John Day Mayor Bob Quinton after he learned of the visit by self-described Aryan Nations representatives. As Mayor of an economically depressed town still under siege by the Feds and their eco-radical cohorts, Quinton would be wise to worry about more tangible concerns.

The Aryan Nations delegation was headed by Paul R. Mullet — yes, that is his real name — a neo-Nazi from a northern Idaho town called Athol, which probably sounds a lot like an epithet frequently heard by him.

For reasons only he can explain, Mullet wants to be recognized as the leader of a neo-Nazi cult that disintegrated in 2004 after its leader, the “Reverend” Richard Butler, went to meet his Maker (and, presumably, to upbraid Him for ruining the world by populating it with so many “impure” specimens of humanity). Mullet’s self-appointment as leader of Butler’s little sect is disputed by some of the late “Reverend’s” disciples.

On February 17, Mullet — in “uniform,” no less — visited John Day in the company of three others of his persuasion. Their stated intention was to purchase property for what they described as a “national compound” to house and train Aryan Nations cadres and be the center of an international neo-Nazi jamboree in 2011.

It’s a bit strange that these fellows chose the term “compound” to describe that facility, given that the word is generally applied by the government and its media servitors to buildings that house people the government intends to exterminate. This is just one of several oddities about Mullet’s visit.

Mullet’s peculiar tactlessness wasn’t limited to gadding about in his “uniform.” After checking in to a local motel, Mullet and his bunkmates made a point of displaying a swastika flag. Where Butler made a point of being insular and secretive in his official dealings, Mullet and his brownshirt buddies were determined to make themselves conspicuous.

One of the first visits Mullet and his comrades paid in John Day was to the office of the Blue Mountain Eagle, Grant County’s weekly newspaper.

“They just came by the office and said, `We’re here in town and we just want to let you know what’s going on’,” commented Scotta Callister, the paper’s editor, to the Spokane Spokesman-Review. In her own report Callister quoted Mullet as claiming that his group would be “a good fit with the values here” — a line that was perfectly calibrated to trigger any newspaper reporter’s crusading reflex.

Callister, who relocated to John Day from hyper-liberal Portland not terribly long ago, behaved in perfectly predictable fashion. Acting as the self-appointed “watchdog” of her adopted community — she quickly organized a movement to oppose Mullet and his group.

Within hours of Mullet’s visit, Callister was in touch with Tony Stewart and Norm Gissel, a pair of “human rights” activists from northern Idaho who agreed to visit John Day to help “mobilize the community” against the supposed Aryan Nations threat.

Two “community meetings” were quickly scheduled, along with various public protests in which local residents — none of whom had ever displayed a tremor of sympathy for white supremacists views — could loudly reassure each other about the depth of their tolerance and the purity of their political opinions.

On the day that the PC pep rally was underway in Grant County, the federal eco-bureaucracy was expected to make an announcement pregnant with awful possibilities for that section of Oregon, as well as much of the western United States.

February 26 was the announced deadline for a decision regarding the status of the Sage Grouse, a type of prairie chicken that subsists on sagebrush. That decision, which was delayed because of the unexpected death of a federal bureaucrat, threatened to kill off what remains of central Oregon’s ranching industry, which requires cattle grazing on what adherents of the “biocentric” worldview would describe as the sage grouse’s habitat. An endangered species listing would also shut down coal mining and oil and gas development in Wyoming, which would have severe consequences for energy consumers — a group that includes all of us, more or less.

A federal decree designating the sage grouse as “endangered” could have potentially lethal consequences for property rights and economic development in eleven states.

But for the untimely demise US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sam Hamilton, that decision would have been handed down on February 26, while residents of John Day, Oregon — an economically crippled community that stands to lose even more because of such a designation — was being whipped into a froth of sterile sanctimony by two imported “human rights” hucksters over the non-existent threat posed by Paul Mullet and his buddies.

Mullet purports to be negotiating to buy property in John Day, but nobody in Grant County will confirm that claim. Perhaps the would-be Aryan Nations leader went to John Day fishing for a pretext to file a discrimination lawsuit. Maybe he was looking to elevate his profile within his tiny, malodorous sect.

Color me cynical, but I can’t resist the suspicion that Mullet was put up to this stunt by somebody. If it weren’t for the material support it receives from the federal government, the white supremacist movement wouldn’t exist. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that somebody attached to a three-letter agency gave Mullet a handful of cash and told him to cut up trouble in Grant County. In any case, Mullet’s visit certainly provided a timely distraction.

Grant County, Oregon could survive the presence of a handful of wretched but powerless neo-Nazi goons in its midst. It isn’t likely to survive the ongoing war against its economy being waged by a pitilessly aggressive federal eco-bureaucracy.

So, naturally, on a day when the latter was scheduled to announce its latest onslaught, John Day was up in arms over the supposed threat posed by the former.

When the sage grouse decision was announced on March 5, it was described in many reports as a "reprieve" for ranchers, miners, oil and gas developers, and other productive people whose livelihoods are imperiled by the eco-commissars. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar condescended to permit residents of the rural West an opportunity to cooperate with the efforts of federal land management bureaucrats to choke off what remains of property rights throughout the region.

This isn’t the final decision on the sage grouse listing, nor will it be the last assault on the economy of the rural West. The chances are pretty good that the Aryan Nations melodrama in Grant County, Oregon won’t be the last oddly timed distraction of that kind, either.

This episode depicts, in microcosm, one of the ways Americans are being socialized into accepting their servitude. Sure, we’re dispossessed, saddled with debts we didn’t contract and cannot discharge, confront the prospect of a blighted economic future for us and our foreseeable posterity — but hey, at least we display the attitudes demanded of us by our self-appointed moral tutors.

William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.

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