[Vision2020] OPINION: Idaho puts out a welcome mat to bigots

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Sun Jul 31 10:56:49 PDT 2022

Courtesy of today’s Lewiston Tribune at:



OPINION: Idaho puts out a welcome mat to bigots

Kyle Chapman, a man with a racist record that includes a pattern of hate speech and violent assaults, has moved to Idaho.

As the Idaho Statesman’s Nicole Blanchard reported last weekend, Chapman chose Idaho to escape minorities — and he’s encouraged others to follow him.

“Some cry ETHNOSTATE!! I say ‘Idaho,’ ” Chapman wrote on social media.

What makes Chapman think he’s wanted here?

Have you looked at the people running the Gem State?

Discrimination isn’t just unfortunate in Idaho; it’s the law.

With the exception of a dozen cities — including Moscow and Lewiston — and Latah County, where local ordinances apply, it is legal in Idaho to deny people employment, housing, education and public accommodations if they are members of the LGBTQ community.

For 16 years, lawmakers have refused to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Idaho’s Human Rights Act. The closest they came was seven years ago. But after listening to one heart-felt story after another during 21 hours of testimony, all 13 Republican members of the House State Affairs Committee voted no.

Even the brutal and fatal beating of Steven Nelson of Boise near Lake Lowell in 2016 for the simple reason that Nelson was gay did not move Idaho lawmakers to fill a gap in the state’s 1983 hate crime statute.

Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, who was serving in the Idaho House in 2017, shopped a bill around. Republican lawmakers would not even extend her the courtesy of a hearing:

“... I have been stopped at every turn, even in the shadow of the murder of Steven Nelson,” she wrote in 2017.

Nor is it enough for Idaho to simply stand still in the course of human events.

It’s been taking deliberate steps against minorities.

Idaho lawmakers have gone out of their way to target the transgender community.

Two years ago, Idaho became the first state in the union to ban trans athletes from participating in women’s sports — despite opposition from some of Idaho’s largest employers, the advice of Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, the lack of any conflicts within the state of Idaho and strict policies modeled after the NCAA and International Olympic Committee standards already in place.

At the same time, the state openly defied federal court rulings by attempting to stop transgender people from amending gender markers on their birth certificates — a move the courts swiftly blocked.
But for the stalwart Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Caldwell, throwing sand in the legislative gears earlier this year, House members might have had their way by criminalizing medical treatment — authorized by parents — for children suffering from gender dysphoria.

But it’s not only the transgender community that has come in for legislative animosity.

More than three years ago, lawmakers — led by Idaho Freedom Foundation acolyte Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls — tore into newly arrived Boise State University President Marlene Tromp because her institution was trying to encourage more diversity on campus.

When the diversity programs did not shrivel up, the House insisted — and the Senate acquiesced — on cutting the college and university budgets by $2.5 million in 2020. Boise State lost $1 million. University of Idaho and Idaho State University each lost $500,000.

And as a recent ProPublic and Chronicle for Higher Education study found, the message was received.

“I lost a lot of faith in Boise State,” BSU doctoral student Melanie Fillmore said. Her convocation speech to incoming freshmen about the treatment of Native Americans in the Treasure Valley was canceled in 2020.

If that’s not clear enough to minorities in Idaho and elsewhere, then consider the Idaho House’s refusal in 2020 — by a 30-32 vote — to even allow motorists to purchase a vanity license plate with the slogan “Too Great for Hate.”

“Well, clearly, it wasn’t about license plates,” said the sponsor, Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, who was then Idaho’s only Black legislator.

Throw in anecdotes such as Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, posing with the Confederate battle flag in 2015 or Gov. Brad Little’s less than robust response to 31 members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front getting arrested before they could implement their plan to transform Coeur d’Alene’s June 11 LGBTQ pride event into a riot.

Should there be any doubt why Chapman and people who share his views find Idaho so attractive?


Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met.”
- Roy E. Stolworthy
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