The Gristle

Signs of Hate

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

SIGNS OF HATE: Students began classes this week at Western Washington University under dark clouds after posters representing the white nationalist group Patriot Front were discovered plastered on light poles and walls around campus.

Three stickers with messages of hate were logged by University Police before another poster was discovered fixed to a wall near the Wade King Student Recreational Center. Another was observed along the walkway between the Fine Arts and Engineering Technology buildings on campus. A third was noted near the Viking Union on Garden Street. A fourth poster, pasted on a light pole near Parks Hall, was removed by university staff.

Patriot Front posters were also reported in Fairhaven in August.

The Patriot Front is a neo-Nazi, neo-fascist group that utilizes imagery of patriotism, liberty, and espoused American values to promote an ideology of hate and intolerance. Part of the broader alt-right movement, the group split off from Vanguard America in August 2017 in the aftermath of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to the Poverty Law Center, which tracks fringe hate groups.

“Patriot Front is an image-obsessed organization that rehabilitated the explicitly fascist agenda of Vanguard America with garish patriotism,” the Center reports. “Patriot Front focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country.”

“Western Washington University strongly condemns the white nationalist beliefs of the Patriot Front,” university officials said in a statement. “Hate will not be tolerated in our community. University officials are on heightened alert for any more of these stickers, which when found will be removed as soon as possible in accordance with university policy.”

In August, Ferndale Police began an investigation after similar recruitment posters were found plastered around parks and parade grounds. Ferndale City Council strongly condemned white supremacy and racism following the incidents by resolution, affirming that city is a welcoming community to all people,

“We stand united against racist, xenophobic groups that promote bigotry and hatred. We reject all forms of racism and white supremacy and speak out against anyone who wishes to divide us by prejudice,” Ferndale Council members resolved.

Yet, we predict these won’t be the last racist hate attacks in Whatcom County in coming weeks. The Christian patriot movement has long simmered here, and has strongly influenced county elections.

Deepened ideological divisions in tandem with a coarsening of political language have escalated overall intolerance for the views of others—and this is true across the political spectrum. The Sheriff’s Office reports that signs and literature once left alone are increasingly defaced, ripped up or removed.

The uptick in vandalism took on a more sinister aspect last week with the destruction of a campaign sign for County Executive candidate Satpal Sidhu near the Valley View Road and Birch Bay Lynden Road that rose to the level of a hate crime.

“During the election season, the Sheriff’s office sometimes receives complaints regarding the vandalism or theft of campaign signs,” Sheriff Bill Elfo told the Bellingham Herald. Elfo admitted that even one of his own campaign signs had been recently destroyed. “However, in this instance, the clear message is one of hate and attempted intimidation. We have classified and are investigating this matter as a hate crime,” Elfo said.

The matter has similarly been referred to the FBI.

The sign was defaced with paint on one side and had a racial slur painted on the reverse side, Elfo said. Deputies also found what appeared to be bullet holes in the sign.

“We have a pending investigation of another incident that has been turned over to the prosecutor, someone stealing one of the large campaign signs,” Elfo reported. He did not give additional details of a pending investigation.

“We hear about damage to signs in every election cycle, and it appears to be on a spectrum,” Elfo said. “Candidates generally don’t report it to law enforcement, but it is certainly noticeable. We have reports of signs actually chopped up and torn apart, as frequently as they’re simply knocked down.”

Sidhu noted that more than 100 of his signs have been defaced, cut down or damaged since the start of the primary season last spring. Only the recent events were particularly aggressive and egregious in his view.

Candidate TonyLarson has amassed a war chest of more than $150,000. Only a fraction of that amount has been reported spent to the state’s campaign finance watchdog group, the Public Disclosure Commission, which portends late hit pieces and similar election shenanigans.

We may predict the general outline of late smear attacks against Sidhu arriving from clandestine sources, based on documents that have circulated in conservative camps since at least 2015 that slyly question his citizenship and fitness for office. Typical of local Republican tactics, these attacks arrive late and underreported; resulting fines levied by the PDC are laughably small and absorbed as part of the game.

Larson’s financial support is characterized by contributions of $500 or more from heavy-hitters in FIRE—finance, industry and real estate—in the amount of $131,000. Those contributions comprise about 87 percent of his overall financial support, according to PDC filings. By contrast, Sidhu has reported $105,000 in contributions to date. Of that amount, nearly half of the financial support to Sidhu’s campaign has arrived in the form of contributions in amounts under $500—in our view a strong indicator of grassroots support from ordinary voters. The overall number of contributions to Sidhu’s campaign outpaces Larson’s by nearly two to one.

These are telling signs about the status of these campaigns, but late hits may take their toll.

Past Columns
War Waged on Two Fronts

December 11, 2019

Work Horse, Not Show Horse

December 4, 2019

Toward A Housing Summit

November 27, 2019

Dueling Data

November 20, 2019

Of Apples and Barrels

November 13, 2019

Hide the Money

October 30, 2019

Anchors Are Weighed

October 23, 2019

A Working Waterfront?

October 15, 2019

Keep Working

October 9, 2019

Trust Gap

September 25, 2019

Netse Mot

September 18, 2019

A Rising Tide

September 11, 2019

The Power of Change

September 4, 2019

Hands Against Hate

August 28, 2019

Ground Zero

August 21, 2019

Fire and Frost

August 14, 2019

The Fury and the Folly

August 7, 2019

Due East II

July 31, 2019

The Real Social Network

July 17, 2019

Events
Today
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Holiday Favorites

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

The Naughty List Market and Cabaret

2:00pm|Broadway Hall

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Songs of Peace with Kulshan Youth Choir

5:30pm|First Congregational Church

Bellwether Premiere Wine Social

5:30pm|Lighthouse Grill

Holiday Party

6:00pm|Camber Coffee

DSA Movie Night

6:00pm|Academic West

Winter Pop-Up with Taylor Shellfish

6:00pm|Aslan Depot

Peaceful Poetry Reading

6:30pm|Village Books

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Storm Music Extravaganza

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Peace, Love, and Ukuleles

7:00pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Avalanche Awareness

7:00pm|Backcountry Essentials

History Holiday

7:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Good, Bad, Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Tomorrow
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

The Naughty List Market and Cabaret

2:00pm|Broadway Hall

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Connelly Creek Nature Area

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Holiday Craft Bazaar

3:30pm|Lynden Library

Drayton Harbor Shellebration

4:00pm|G Street Plaza

Gingerbread House Making

4:30pm|Ferndale Library

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Photos and Stories with James K. Papp

5:00pm|Gallery Pegasus

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Kids Night Out @ Western

6:00pm|Western Washington University

Lost Feast

7:00pm|Village Books

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Christmastime is Here with Skagit Symphony

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Saturday
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

NSEA Work Party

9:00am

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Sedro-Woolley Community Center

Winter Faire

10:00am|Whatcom Hills Waldorf School

Winter Arts & Crafts Festival

10:00am|Pioneer Park Pavilion

Old-Fashioned Christmas Market

10:00am|Friday Harbor Brickworks

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Fairhaven Winterfest

10:00am|Historic Fairhaven

Sumas Book Club

10:00am|Sumas Library

Mastering Wisteria

10:30am|Full Bloom Farm

Award-Winning Book Club

10:30am|Lynden Library

Snow Geese of Skagit

10:30am|Christianson's Nursery

Your Life is a Story Writers Group

10:30am| South Whatcom Library

Saltadena Celebration

11:00am|Saltadena Bakery

Winter Wonderland Gift Gala

11:00am|Carnation Building

Holiday Craft Bazaars

11:30am

Holiday Maker's Market

12:00pm|Terramar Brewing and Distilling

Holiday Joy with Fidalgo Youth Symphony

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Holiday Tea and Crafts

1:00pm|North Fork Library

Festive Feasting Reception

1:00pm|Good Earth Pottery

Teen Art Fair

2:00pm|Blaine Library

Big Holiday reds tasting

2:00pm|eifert & Jones Wine Merchants

Shrinking the Worry Monster

2:00pm|Village Books

Birding for Kids

2:30pm

Bowman Bay Holiday

3:00pm|Bowman Bay

Noel Ensemble

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

A Deep Dive Into Eve Deisher's Psyche

3:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

One Meditation

4:00pm| Boulevard Park

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Early Railroads of Whatcom County

7:00pm|Village Books

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Center Into Solstice

7:00pm|Cafe Blue

Holiday History Hi-Jinks

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Winter Solstice Concert with SeaMuse

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Cidertails with Alexine Langdon

7:30pm|housand Acre Cider House

Heralding Christmas with Skagit Valley Chorale

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

The Kelley World Tour

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

see our complete calendar »