Subject: Paranoia as Patriotism: Aryan Nations
Headquartered near Hayden Lake, Idaho, Aryan Nations is a
paramilitary hate group founded in the mid-1970s by Rev.
Richard Girnt Butler, now 77 years old. It was formed around
Butler's Church of Jesus Christ Christian, one of the several
hundred churches affiliated with "Identity," a
pseudo-theological hate movement. Identity doctrine maintains
that Anglo-Saxons, not Jews, are the Biblical "chosen people,"
that non-whites are "mud people" on the level of animals, and
that Jews are "children of Satan."
Aryan Nations militantly advocates anti-Semitism and the
establishment of a white racist state. Although primarily an
Identity group, Butler's Aryan Nations reflects a Nazi-like
philosophy; Butler himself has praised Hitler. During the
1980s, several of Butler's followers joined members of the
neo-Nazi National Alliance and some KKK splinter groups to
form a secret organization known as The Order, which planned
to overthrow the U.S. government. To raise money for their
planned revolution, The Order engaged in a crime spree
involving murder, counterfeiting, bank robberies and armored
car hold-ups. The group's activities ended with the death of
its founder and leader, Robert J. Mathews, in a shootout with
Federal agents in December 1984, and the incarceration of many
of its members.
As noted, anti-Semitism is a basic tenet of the Aryan Nations
ideology. For example, Dennis Hilligoss, the group's state
coordinator in Oregon, recently said that "The Jew is like a
destroying virus that attacks our racial body to destroy our
Aryan culture and purity of our race."
To aid in recruitment efforts, Aryan Nations hosts many racist
activits during its summer festivals of hate at Hayden Lake,
called the "World Congress of Aryan Nations." At these
conferences, Butler's organization has offered courses in
urban terrorism and guerrilla warfare. Numerous extremists
have addressed Aryan Nations gatherings. John Trochmann, a
featured speaker at the 1990 congree, later became a founder
and leader of the Militia of Montana.
Since 1979, Aryan Nations has been engaged in prison outreach.
This is an important aspect of the Aryan Nations' agenda,
given that so many members of The Order and Aryan Nations are
now serving long prison sentences. Aryan Nations corresponds
on an ongoing basis with prison inmates through letters and
the forwarding of its periodicals. In 1987, Aryan Nations
began publishing a "prison outreach newsletter" called _The
Way_, which has facilitated recruitment and connections
between Aryan Nations and its offspring, Aryan Brotherhood, a
network of prison gang members.
Butler has called Hayden Lake - an otherwise peaceful
community - the "international headquarters of the White
race." Recently, though, Butler's organization has suffered
from internal difficulties, with several of its members
leaving to form new groups. Carl Franklin, chief of staff for
Aryan Nations, resigned in July of 1993 as a result of
disagreements with Butler, who had previously named him his
successor. Wayne Jones was security chief at the Aryan
compound since the late 1980s and departed along with
Franklin. They and two other members moved to Western Montana
to form their own white supremacist group called the "Church
of Jesus Christ Christian of Montana." Following these
departures, two more key members, Charles and Betty Tate, left
to join Kirk Lyons, their son-in-law, a North Carolina-based
lawyer who has defended right-wing extremists and has called
himself an "active sympathizer" with their causes. In
addition, a one-time Aryan Nations official named Floyd
Cochran has quit the group and renounced anti-Semitism and
Despite the recent defections, Aryan Nations seems to be
showing signs of rejuvenation. Several new "state offices,"
often consisting of a mail drop, have opened in the last year.
Additionally, Staff Director Tim Bishop, the former Kansas
state leader for Thom Robb's Arkansas-based KKK and a member
of the Aryan Nations since 1984, manages the day-to-day
operations with enthusiasm.
Aryan Nations has been mentioned prominently in connection
with one of the incidents that militia groups cite as evidence
of a government conspiracy against the citizenry - the 1992
Randy Weaver confrontation in northern Idaho. Weaver, a white
supremacist who had reportedly visited the Aryan Nations
compound in the past, resisted an effort by Federal agents to
arrest him at his remote cabin for alleged weapons violations.
Weaver's wife and son were killed during the stand-off, along
with a deputy U.S. marshall. During the seige, groups of Aryan
Nations supporters, in addition to Skinheads and other
neo-Nazis, rallied in support of Weaver near his cabin.
The post of successor to Butler remains vacant. It is
believed, however, that Louis Beam, who has been touted in the
past as Butler's heir apparent, may step in to fill that void.
Beam, who was David Duke's Texas KKK Grand Dragon in the
1970s, has served as the Aryan Nations Ambassador-at-Large. He
recently purchased property in the northern Idaho panhandle
not far from the Aryan Nations headquarters at Hayden Lake. He
recently attended a gun rights rally whose sponsoring group,
reports the Spokane _Spokesman-Review_, includes militia
members and sympathizers, and was at the most recent Aryan
Nations congress. Further, he has lately written in support of
"leaderless resistance" - strategy that calls for the
formation of autonomous cells organized around ideology, not
leaders, so as to be better able to carry out actions against
their enemies with reduced risk of infiltration.
(Anti-Defamation League, 9-10)
Anti-Defamation League. [Special Report] Paranoia as Patriotism:
Far-Right Influences on the Militia Movement. 1995.