Sunday, December 18, 2005


With Us or Against Us

[Ed. note: the following letter was sent to Julie Shirley, the executive editor of the Bellingham Herald--a Knight Ridder publication--on December 18, 2005.]

Dear Ms. Shirley:

You might want to reconsider the Herald's role to date in essentially serving as a public relations agency for racist vigilantes. Last time the Herald served this function (1990s), seven militia members went to federal prison on explosives and firearms charges after planning to murder human rights activists.

The whitewash of their activities leading up to this by the then Gannett newspaper was key in allowing things to get out of hand. I would hope the Herald would show more sense this time. To date, this is apparently not the case.

At any rate, background information is readily available for you and your reporters to become informed should you become so inclined. Granted this requires more work than re-printing press releases from hate groups, but then again, lives are at stake.

My report of the national human rights conference is available at and it contains links to other national experts on this issue. My book about the previous go round with white supremacist vigilantes in Whatcom county, Blind Spots, is available for purchase on my weblog, as well as at the Bellingham Public Library. Excerpts from the book are located under Memoirs in the sidebar of my site, linked below in my signature url.

Marc Brenman, WA State Human Rights Commission Executive Director, would probably be your best bet for an informed interview, as he sat in on both our private researchers workshop, as well as the panel presentations at the conference. To quote his remarks at the conference luncheon, he observed that what we are seeing with this Minutemen posturing was "a precursor to domestic terrorism."

Brenman's e-mail is and his phone is 360-753-2558 or 1-800-233-3247. For the national (and WA state) picture on this tragedy, I recommend contacting Devin Burghart at the Center for New Community in Chicago (who was on the panel) at 312-266-0319 or

I was sorry to see no Herald reporters at the national conference; I suppose they must have been busy interviewing the Minutemen.

Regards--Jay Taber


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