White supremacists around our country feel emboldened. 2017 has seen 541 documented anti-Semitic incidents —? an 86 percent increase over 2016. We have experienced anti-semitic incidents by white supremacists in Whitefish, Missoula, and Bozeman. The perpetrators share websites and support politicians who they believe will do their bidding.
Little attention has been paid in the Montana congressional campaign to Mr. Gianforte’s donations to and from people associated with white supremacy. In 2015-16, Mr. Gianforte donated to Flathead-area white supremacist Taylor Rose and Billings-area white supremacist Robert Saunders. Both lost their legislative bids, but it’s troubling that Mr. Gianforte supported such men.
The Southern Poverty Law Center featured Rose in a recent report, detailing his associations with white nationalists. The Montana Human Rights Network wrote: “I see Taylor Rose and his candidacy as one of the most overt examples of white supremacy moving into the political sphere in Montana ... [It’s] is no different than David Duke running for the Legislature.”
Robert Saunders was accused of telling a black peer that at an earlier point in America’s history, he would have owned her, and once said that President Obama and his family should be “sent back to the fields to pick cotton.” He argued that the U.S. should solve the ‘problem’ of Islam by forcing all U.S. Muslims to convert to Christianity, leave, or be executed.
The money flows both ways. Mr. Gianforte accepted a $2700 campaign donation from Saunders in his failed gubernatorial bid. Mr. Gianforte also was supported by an Idaho preacher, who once wrote, “one could argue that the black family has never been stronger than it was under slavery,” and maintained that women are “created to be responsive and dependent to a man.”
It’s not normal to support white supremacists. White supremacy is not a Montana value.
Rabbi Francine Roston, Whitefish
Rabbi Allen Secher, Whitefish
Rabbi Laurie Franklin, Missoula
Rabbi Ed Stafman, Bozeman