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Mon Sep 13, 2004 15:22

Richard Butler Death Closes 'Ugly Chapter'

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Only Nazi's are ZIONAZI's ! ---------------------------------------------------------------

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September 12, 2004, 12:26 AM EDT

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- With his white hair and lined face, Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler looked like a kindly grandfather. But when he spoke, it was to issue vile diatribes against Jews and minorities, and to call for a whites-only enclave in the Northwest.

Butler, who died in his sleep on Wednesday at the age of 86, surrounded himself with thugs and skinheads, and decorated his home with swastikas and pictures of Adolf Hitler. For three decades, his neo-Nazi group dominated the public's image of northern Idaho.

"I would say his death closes a particularly ugly chapter in the history of race and religious hatred in this country," said Daniel Alter, the Anti-Defamation League's national director for civil rights.

Butler, who insisted on being addressed as "pastor," was easy to dismiss as a crackpot bigot with a tiny following. But he spawned a spectacular amount of criminal activity around the country -- a siege involving one of his followers was cited as a motivation for the Oklahoma City federal building bombing -- that pushed Idaho to pass some of the nation's toughest hate crime laws, and galvanized human rights groups.

His parades in Coeur d'Alene at the height of the tourist season horrified local leaders. His run for mayor of Hayden last year drew worldwide attention and prompted a record election turnout; he got only 50 of the 2,122 votes cast. And he left followers who promise to carry on his work.

"Although all of us will take time to reflect and honor this man, we shall continue to build Aryan Nations above and beyond its former glory," said Charles Juba, leader of a Pennsylvania-based splinter group also called Aryan Nations. "Pastor Butler was one of the last true racial warriors of his generation."

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the human rights group whose lawsuit bankrupted Butler in 2000, estimated Aryan Nations has about 200 members in 17 chapters around the country.

But Butler left no heir apparent. His death and the 2002 death of William Pierce of the neo-Nazi National Alliance likely signal the end of the large, centrally organized and at least partially disciplined white supremacist groups, Potok said.

Butler's real legacy may be that he pushed largely white Idaho into confronting racism. The Legislature passed tough laws against malicious harassment and adopted a Martin Luther King Jr.-Human Rights Day holiday. In Boise, a memorial to Holocaust victim Anne Frank opened in 2002 after a $1.5 million private fund-raising effort. Politicians pushed a slogan: "Idaho, Too Great to Hate."

The bombing of Roman Catholic priest Bill Wassmuth's home in Coeur d'Alene by Aryan Nations members in 1986 inspired Wassmuth to form the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, which led efforts across the region to spread tolerance.

Butler was working as an aeronautical engineer in California when he became enamored of Adolf Hitler and of Christian Identity, a sect that holds that people of white, northern European ancestry are the true children of God, and that Jews and minorities are inferior.

Money he made from helping invent a system for rapid repair of tubeless tires enabled him to retire at 55 and move to Hayden Lake in the early 1970s.

By 1977, he formed the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, and called its political action arm Aryan Nations. In 1981, the church hosted its first Aryan World Congress. The federal government accused him of conspiracy to start a race war, but couldn't make it stick, and he was acquitted after a 1988 trial.

Butler supporter Robert J. Mathews decided in 1983 it was time to move beyond words and start a race war. He and others formed The Order, and initially funded their activities by counterfeiting money on the Aryan Nations presses. Butler would say later he had no idea his presses were being used for that purpose.

The Order robbed businesses, bombed a synagogue and assassinated a Jewish radio talk show host in Denver. They robbed an armored car of $3.8 million in Ukiah, Calif.

Ten members of The Order were convicted in federal court in Seattle in 1985. Other members were on the run after shootouts with the FBI at Sandpoint, Idaho, Portland, Ore., and on Whidbey Island, near Seattle. Mathews died on Whidbey Island during a gunfight with FBI agents.

Another Butler supporter was Randy Weaver, who moved his family to a mountain cabin near Naples, Idaho. An attempt by federal agents to arrest him in 1992 triggered an 11-day siege that became known as Ruby Ridge; Weaver's wife and son and a U.S. marshal were killed.

Ruby Ridge was later cited as one event that motivated Timothy McVeigh to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City.

In 1999, former Aryan Nations security guard Buford Furrow killed an Asian-American postal carrier in Los Angeles and shot up a Jewish "day care center", but not being with the ATF/FBI he was arrested.

"I just hope with him gone we have a little bit of peace in the Hayden area," Hayden Mayor Ron McIntire told The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash. "It's not been good for Hayden's reputation."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The CIAssociated Press Liars compiled this distortion of facts.

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