White supremacists, as we've long known, always like to present themselves as nominally "normal" people -- they're just sticking up for white heritage, blah blah blah. Inevitably, though the mask slips and we get a good look at their real character.
A few weeks ago, a couple of hours down the road in Longview, a Christian Identity church poked its head into public view, claiming to really be just regular folks who want to fit into the community:
- The local spokesman for a white-supremacist church that wants to hold a public "celebration" next month at Longview's McClelland Arts Center says he doesn't know what the fuss is about.
"It's a little strange. I didn't understand why it was such a big deal," said 28-year-old Zach Beck, who has applied to rent the city-owned building Dec. 9 for a Church of Jesus Christ--Christian rally to recruit new members.
A swarm of TV news stations descended on Longview when word got out Friday about the rally, which will feature live music, "influential" speakers, food, merchandise for sale and opportunities for the audience to ask questions, according to Beck's building-use application.
To hear Beck tell it, his church simply wants to provide a safe place for white people to celebrate their ethnic heritage without feeling persecuted.
"Our goals aren't violent at all," he said Tuesday in an interview at his wife's West Longview home. His church promotes racial purity and "anti-mongrelism," he said.
"For whites to assemble and unify under a white flag --- I don't think that's racist at all," he said.
A local TV report had more:
- welcomes everyone, he was welcomed to the microphone.
"It's become apparent in today's society that you can be proud of any other nationality other than European heritage and be applauded for standing up for your flag or your nation or your race," he said.
The group fired questions and comments at Beck and he answered civilly, explaining why he came to the meeting.
"To get a feel of what's to come on December 9th as far as opposition," he said.
Despite pretty widespread community opposition to the church taking root, the city attorney ruled that the permit couldn't be denied. Which is probably right, so far as their constitutional rights go.
However, nature (as it were) has a way of taking care of these things anyway -- that is, their character eventually floats to the surface, and they tend to self-immolate.
So it was not exactly surprising when, a few days ago, a warrant was issued for Zach Beck on cocaine-possession charges:
- A bench warrant has been issued for local white supremacist spokesman Zach Beck for failing to appear in Cowlitz County Superior Court this week regarding a cocaine possession charge, according to court documents.
If Beck is arrested, he could be in jail Dec. 9. That's the day of the Church of Jesus Christ--Christian rally Beck organized at the McClelland Arts Center to recruit new members for the white supremacist group, which is linked to the Aryan Nations.
The 28-year-old Longview resident missed a pretrial readiness hearing Tuesday. His trial was scheduled to begin Friday. His attorney, Sam Wardle, told the court his client might be in Arizona.
Friday, Longview Police Capt. Jim Duscha said police wouldn't launch a search for Beck, but added, "If somebody runs across him and there's a warrant in the system, we're going to arrest him."
And it's really all quite within his character:
- Beck was convicted of first-degree burglary and third-degree assault in Cowlitz County in 2005. He also has been convicted of crimes in California, Idaho and Arizona, including a hate crime, fraud, disorderly conduct, domestic violence and driving under the influence, according to court records.
But really, they're just normal folks.
[Note to readers: Sorry I've been absent. I have a flooded basement. Real life intervenes.]