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In the mid-1970s Butler purchased 20 acres of land in Hayden Lake, Idaho, and designated the land as a white only settlement. No blacks or Jews were allowed, although nothing in the research suggests the application of ethnicity tests of potential members. Butler’s reasoning followed the Northwest Territory Imperative promoted by all neo-Nazi groups; the Imperative forwarded the idea that “whites [as superior] deserved their own homeland” (Day, 2016, para 9). On analysis, the idea lent itself to the purity of race theories espoused by Adolph Hitler, who in many speeches referred to the white Nordic pure (Aryan) race as one superior and that must be kept pure. By the early 1980s the compound housed several hundred nationalists and their families. In 1982, Butler began hosting the Aryan World Congress, a convocation of like-minded proponents of white (Lambert, 2019, para 4).

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Propaganda/Training

            One can deduce from historical records and events that substantial racial and ethnic hatred already existed in the U.S. and that only a limited propaganda effort was needed. It was more a matter of feeding into beliefs already solidly entrenched and waiting for justification. As example, along with traditional print materials—flyers and mailers—the outdoor nature of the compound itself appealed to those in the survivalist movement focused on white supremacy. “Conferences in later years offering “paramilitary training in urban terrorism and guerrilla warfare [also allowed] “like-minded extremists to address issues of common interest (ADL, 2019, para 12-13). Butler’s youth academy imprinted its white supremacy philosophy on young minds; in the late 1990s a concerted propaganda effort spread to the internet in the form of chat rooms, websites, and videos (ADL, 2019, para 14). Upon examination, most websites are available to the public; many require membership and a monetary donation.

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Leadership

            The question of leadership in neo-Nazi groups has been discussed on many levels; still, their success often remains somewhat enigmatic. As a leader and ordained minister, Butler was somewhat of a messianic force between modern day advertising combined with practical exploitation of existing ethnic and racial hatred deep seated in the American psyche. For instance, capitalizing on a local agricultural crisis, he invited struggling family farmers to live for free at the compound; hosted skinhead music festivals on Hitler’s birthday, and according to witnesses, became a father figure to young devotees (Day, 2016, para 15-16). While it is generally conceded Butler was not the inspirational speaker that Hitler, his role model was, other qualities probably allowed him to gather a considerable and devoted following. Manipulation, brainwashing of youth, ability to tap into America’s worst racial instincts, and a personal commitment to white supremacy at all costs by all accounts earned him not only the respect of his followers but also the significant attention of law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. Leaders of other groups drawn to Butler and Hayden Lake included, Tom Metzger, leader of White Aryan Resistance, Klansman Louis Beam, Don Black of Stormfront, and Kirk Lyons, an attorney who frequently represented the group (Southern Poverty Law Center, no date, para 9).

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Internal Leadership Struggles

In the 1990s it became apparent that the various groups connected with Aryan Nations were on a collision course. While the goals of the groups stationed in Hayden Lake were not essentially at odds, the manner of achieving them undoubtedly caused friction and infighting among group leaders. Several of Butler’s inner circle left to start new groups. This is not surprising, since an analysis of some of these groups indicate they were seeking immediate and violent solutions. Enter Louis Beam…

Louis Beam was at one time the suggested successor to Butler. Beam undoubtedly saw himself as a mentor to young domestic terrorists, a direction in which many groups were heading. Beam popularized the concept of leaderless resistance and helped guide the supremacist movement into the computer age” (Southern Poverty Law Center, Louis Beam, 2019, para 1). It appears that Beam also brought with him from years as a KKK member a progressively more violent philosophy that drew a political and social line in the sand. The growing intensity of the violence was certainly a harbinger of things to come in terms of domestic terrorism. In shades of Timothy McVeigh, the Aryan Nations and their associated groups, when examining their history of that period, seemed to develop a more fatalistic view: they would have America a white nation or die. As early as the 1970s, Beam and his followers were charged with several violent attacks on a radio station and a Communist headquarters; radio host Alan Berg was murdered; Beam and his cohorts terrorized Vietnamese fisherman–all of the activities based on reports were discussed at the Aryan Nation headquarters in Idaho (Southern Poverty Law Center, Louis Beam, 2019, para 12).  Violence was growing among all the groups. The gravity and portend of things to come in terms of domestic terrorism are clearly spelled out in the words of Beam at the Aryan World Congress in 1983. “I’m here to tell you that if we can’t have this country, as far as I’m concerned, no one gets it. The guns are cocked, the bullets are in the chamber…” (Southern Poverty Law Center, Louis Beam, 2019, para 8).