CANADA

Campaigning against hate

MARCUS GEE September 1 1986
CANADA

Campaigning against hate

MARCUS GEE September 1 1986

Campaigning against hate

Slight, bearded and soft-spoken, Terry Long operates a small timber mill in the village of Caroline, 160 km northwest of Calgary. But the White Pride trucker’s cap worn by the 40-year-old electrical engineer points to his other better-known role. Long is Canadian leader of the Aryan Nations, a neo-Nazi group bred in the backwoods of Idaho, which preaches that Jews are no less than the children of Satan. Declares Long: “International communism, finance capitalism and international Zionism are three heads of the same snake.”

Normally, most Albertans would ignore such ravings. But Long’s plans to establish an Aryan Nations camp on the banks of the Clearwater River eight kilometres west of Caroline have persuaded many that he must be stopped. Mindful of last year’s conviction of Eckville, Alta., teacher James Keegstra for wilfully promoting hatred against Jews, a coalition of Christian, Jewish and community groups has launched a campaign to alert the public about the proposed 80-acre camp. “People are definitely outraged,” said Hal Joffe, president of Calgary’s Citizens Against Racial and Re-

ligious Discrimination. Added Calgary film-maker Lawrence Ryckman, whose 45-minute documentary The Aryan Nation paints a frightening picture of the group: “These guys are dangerous. Something’s going to happen if they’re left untouched.”

Ryckman’s film reveals an organization with a history of extremism and violence. Founded in 1978, the Aryan Nations is the secular arm of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, which has its headquarters in Hayden Lake, Idaho. Both arms are led by Rev. Richard Girnt Butler, 66, whose Christian Identity movement teaches that whites are God’s chosen people. Butler’s aim is to establish an allwhite homeland in the northwest United States. Violence erupted in 1984 when some Aryan Nations members split off to form the Order, a paramilitary group dedicated to establishing Butler’s racist state.

Before the last member of the Order was arrested in 1985, it had carried out a string of armed robberies and other violent crimes—including the machine-gun killing of Denver talk-show host Alan Berg, a Jew. Since the Order’s demise, the Aryan Nations has continued its paramilitary tradition. At the group’s World Congress in Hayden Lake in July, grim young men patrolled the

campsite with automatic rifles.

Alberta Attorney General James Horsman has said that the government will take action if Long tries to create his own private army, but Long denies any such plans. The outpost, he says, will be “just like any other church camp.” Visitors will stay in a bunkhouse built for 20, attend Christian Identity services and study the movement’s philosophy. Long has already established a 50-volume library which includes such dubious works as Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution by Antony Sutton and The Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Prof. Arthur Butz. Says Long: “All the books in my library are banned. Otherwise I wouldn’t read them.”

Long traces his attraction to Christian Identity to his experiences as a youth in Sacramento, Calif., where he first encountered what he calls the “colored races.” Said Long: “I saw them for what they were—they’re different people.” Another reason for Long’s conversion was his disappointment with the Alberta separatist movement in the early 1980s, when he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Western Canada Concept in the 1982 provincial election.

Long still has few followers. Filmmaker Ryckman estimates that the Aryan Nations’ Canadian membership stands at no more than 25. Long himself refuses to say how many people reside at the Caroline camp, but the only building is a wood-frame house where he lives with his wife, Janice, and three children. At the site’s entrance, a blond security guard equipped with binoculars scans approaching vehicles. Nonmembers are not welcome.

But U.S. authorities say that the Hayden Lake camp had similarly modest beginnings. Capt. William Barker of the sheriff’s office in Kootenai County, Idaho, said he has watched the nearby Aryan Nations outpost grow from a modest camp to a 20-acre compound with electric fence and a meeting hall decked with swastikas. With a total North American membership estimated by Barker at 6,000, the group attracts thousands to its yearly congresses—a growing number of them Canadians. In a country that protects freedom of speech, Barker says, there is only one way to control such extremists: public education. “This community for a long time didn’t think one way or another about it,” he said. “Then it became sensitized. Laying it open has lessened the fear.”

Alberta groups are following Barker’s advice. The Canadian Council of Christians and Jews has organized a series of “interfaith dialogues” on the Aryan Nations, and a number of

groups have urged CBC TV to broadcast Ryckman’s film. Last week opponents brought their challenge to Long’s doorstep when they screened the film for a crowd of 500 in Sundre, just 30 km from the camp. Led by Rev. Robert Cheesmur of nearby Bergen Missionary Church, the crowd of 500 solemnly sang O Canada before watching the grim documentary. Afterward, Cheesmur remarked, “I feel as though I’ve just awoken from a nightmare.”

The Jewish Defence League planned to confront Long directly. As the league’s national director, Meir Halevi,

arrived in Edmonton from Toronto last week, JDL member David Strauss predicted “some very nasty surprises for Mr. Terry Long.” Whatever action they take, antidiscrimination groups will face the same quandary as in the Keegstra case: raising awareness about racist organizations also awards them free publicity. But Long’s opponents are convinced the trade-off is worthwhile. Said Ryckman: “The average person sees bigots as mild and docile like Archie Bunker. They’re not.”

MARCUS GEE

JOHN HOWSE