White nationalism comes to Renton

Let’s just get down to brass tacks — Patriot Front is a vile organization.

Maybe you’re not familiar with the group. Remember the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, where protestors chanted “Jews will not replace us”? Where James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, injuring 19 and killing Heather Heyer?

Yeah. That was them.

Or, rather, that was their start. Shortly after the rally, Patriot Front split from Vanguard America (the organizers behind the rally and another explicitly white supremacist group) in order to take on a new image — one that (poorly) attempts to hide its racism behind a screen of patriotism.

And sometime after the new year, Patriot Front came to town.

Renton wasn’t the only city to be peppered with posters promoting Patriot Front (I counted 27); they have arrived in Enumclaw and my peers in other South King County cities have reported flyers being put up there as well.

On the surface, they look innocuous, even patriotic, as they sport the colors of Ol’ Glory and promote messages inviting to the political right.

“Will your speech be hate speech?” one poster in downtown Enumclaw read.

“To ourselves and our posterity,” another said.

“Better dead than red,” was a third.

“Keep America American. Report any and all illegal aliens; they are criminals,” read a fourth at the Veterans Memorial Park, followed by the phone number for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

To anyone who wants to point out that none of those posters were racist, I will say this: you’re right. I have ideological differences and disagree strongly with their messages, but they don’t exactly scream “white power”.

They save all that for their website.

This is literally the start of the second paragraph of their manifesto: “When our European ancestors first came to this savage continent they had a variety of purpose. Set against the harsh life on the frontier and the common enemy in the strange, unexplored reaches of America yet to be touched by civilization, they found a common cause and a common identity as Americans.”

It quickly gets worse.

“Those of foreign birth may occupy civil status within the lands occupied by the state, and they may even be dutiful citizens, yet they may not be American. Membership within the American nation is inherited through blood, not ink. Even those born in America may yet be foreign. Nationhood cannot be bestowed upon those who are not of the founding stock of our people, and those who do not share the common spirit that permeates our greater civilization, and the European diaspora.”

And worse.

“The nation will see the thin veneer of civilization begin to wane as resources are diverted from them to the replacement population. The same population that has been imported to supersede the nation will then be enslaved upon our ashes. Those of our people in witness to this orchestrated tragedy will then be compelled towards the only body whose vision of the future includes them.”

And worse.

“‘We can have peace and security only so long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood, only so long as we guard ourselves against attack by foreign armies and dilution by foreign races.’”

That last quote came from Charles Lindberg, who’s fame for flying solo from New York to Paris nonstop is rightfully shadowed by his Nazi sympathies.

I could hardly stand even reading their manifesto, and putting those words to paper made my stomach churn.

But their encroachment on our community cannot go unrecognized or be met with apathy and silence.

These are not “very fine people”. They are the echo of an evil so great that more than 14 million Allied soldiers, and countless civilians, were sacrificed before it lay smoldering at the world’s feet.

But it did not die.

A few dozen posters and stickers may not seem like much. Some may ask, “What’s the harm?” or even agree with the messages posted around town (after all, “Reclaim America” isn’t that far off from “Make America Great Again”). Others may even defend Patriot Front’s right to free speech.

That’s exactly what they want, even more than recruiting zealots to join their march toward holocaust — they want to be accepted as harmless. Mainstream. A part of everyday life.

They are not harmless. This is not normal. And their legal right to free speech does not absolve us of the responsibility of challenging what we know to be wrong.

There is no place for their hate in Renton.

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