Coeur d’Alene is a small town in Idaho consisting of 42,000 residents. Out of the 42,000, 92% of the residents are White. You’re probably wondering why I chose to write a blog about a small town in Idaho. Well, if you’re a reader of my blog then you know I’m always curious about culture and what makes American culture thrive, what it fears, dislikes,and approves of. The town Coeur d’Alene can be seen as a White safe haven where the majority the people have taken residence there to get away from the multicultural American society.
In the documentary “America by the Numbers” reporter Maria Hinojosa visits Coeur d’Alene and interviews various members of the community to get a better understanding of the town and the people’s beliefs. While there, she finds out that many of the people moved there because they want to be around people just like them. Maria states that “we explore(d) both the allure and complexity of living in a homogenous community.” The allure of living in a homogenous community is a person does not have “figure out” how to communicate with a person of a different religion, ethnicity, or culture. However, does someone have to look and act like you in order for you to understand them? Many people believe this as true and some even tried to create sections in the US where only Whites are accepted.
Richard Grint Butler was an American space engineer. In addition, he later became the leader of the Christian identity white supremacist group: “THE ARYAN NATIONS.” The Aryan nations, also considered “Church of Jesus Christ-Christians”, has an ideology which mixes Christianity and Nazism. Coeur d’Alene was the center for the neo-Nazi network attracting people worldwide. Butler wanted to overthrow the US government and begin a racist war. Butler orchestrated fire bombings, burned crosses on people’s lawns, and his compound in Coeur d’Alene was considered the “Aryan Nations World Congress” and in 1984-86, thousands of racist attended Butler’s meetings and sided with Butler’s ideology. However, Coeur residences didn’t approve of Butler’s ideology or actions.
Norman Gisle and many citizens of the Coeur d’Alene legally went after Butler and the Aryan Nations and successful won. After the community won, the organization was bankrupt. Although the physical presences of the Aryan Nations were overthrown, the spirit of still resided in some of the community in Coeur d’Alene. Coeur d’Alene is now a liberal, mainly republican community. In the documentary, some believe that race is a sensitive subject and many do speak about. So how can the children raised in Coeur d’Alene understand and prepare themselves for the world that is multicultural when they aren’t exposed to it.
I must say that the world is far from perfect and I could only imagine how many people want to have safe havens where they don’t have to deal with the frustration of society’s ignorance. Just look at what’s going on in today’s news. We have another civil rights movement because of all the unlawful, unjustified killings of Black men. But instead of people hiding and trying to wipe racism under the rug, they’re fighting for their rights. People are tired of fighting. They just want to live.
If you would like to watch “America By Numbers” follow this link: http://video.pbs.org/video/2365345800/