Last week, white nationalist fliers were distributed on doorsteps in Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley. The Montana Human Rights Network received reports of the fliers from recipients who were disturbed by the content left on their steps.
“The hate fliers target members of our community by promoting hostility toward the Jewish community, immigrants, and men of color,” said Rachel Carroll Rivas, Co-Director at the statewide research, organizing, and advocacy organization. “This material is a stark reminder that anti-Semitism and xenophobia are collaborators in the current white nationalist agenda. When white nationalism threatens our communities, we must call it out, condemn it, and offer support to those targeted. Collectively, we must say, ‘White nationalism is not a community value.’”
Rivas said the hate fliers focus on border walls. She said the U.S. border wall has been used as the means to talk about immigration and, in many cases, vilify immigrants as a whole.
“The Trump Administration is currently holding the government hostage with a shutdown and refusing to negotiate with both Democrats and moderate Republicans who want to fund the government without funding his border wall,” said Rivas. “Closer to home, Montana Senate President Scott Sales (R-Bozeman) has announced he will sponsor legislation to send $8 million of Montana taxpayer money to help pay for the wall.”
She said the recent fliers use imagery of men of color with lots of facial tattoos and then compare that to a border wall in Israel and pose the question, “Why is one wall O.K. and not the other?”
“So, I think they are targeting Latino men and immigrants as a whole and are also targeting Jewish people and the Jewish nation today,” she said.
Rivas said that there are laws that govern distribution of fliers, such as not putting them in a mailbox or trespassing, but she does not know exactly how these were distributed.
“The real issue here is the content,” said Rivas. “It targets members of our community in a stereotypical way that isn’t helpful.”
Rivas said that some kind of flier is distributed or posted somewhere in the state on a regular basis. She said the MHRN has received reports of ten different incidents in the last six months. She said in the last few months an anti-Semitic flier has been distributed in Billings, Red Lodge, Bozeman, Missoula and Helena.
“Unfortunately, it’s a little bit more common than we’d like,” she said.
The Montana Human Rights Network has a hate incident reporting form on its website at www.mhrn.org where a person can report a bigoted flier or hate crime or even discrimination in housing. The organization has also created a sign-on letter in response to the bigoted fliers. The letter calls on Montanans to stand with friends and neighbors who are Jewish, people of color, and/or immigrants in condemning white nationalism’s attempt to divide our communities. It also calls on the leadership of the Montana Legislature to make it clear that white nationalism in its various forms is not welcome in the state. The sign-on letter can be found at: https://goo.gl/forms/1fs4p3TzKlJ5ku7w1.