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A home place, by reputation

Years ago, in the woods and hills north of Coeur d’Alene, the white supremacist group Aryan Nations had a substantial compound which served as its base of operations. They became well known in the area and nationally.

The compound was razed in the aftermath of an adverse legal case, and the group’s leader died not long after. Those developments were cheered on by the overwhelming majority of people in the area who were sickened by the reputation their place had gotten. Now, they hoped, it could be wiped clean.

May not be that easy. The mid-Panhandle area seems now to have some meaning for some of these people, and a group of them – less visible than before, but present nonetheless – seems determined to hang in.

Last Thursday, according to an Associated Press story, “four men in their 20s started shouting Aryan Nations slogans during Tony Stewart’s speech at the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene. His speech was about the Nazi movement in northern Idaho and how it was defeated.”

Defeated, but not wiped out, apparently. Don Robinson, an FBI agent at Coeur d’Alene, was quoted as saying, “We’re very concerned about the presence of these groups in the area and it’s a priority. These remaining factions are trying to establish relevance.”

That sounds right. But it raises the uneasy question of what they may try to do next to “establish relevance.”

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