Which leaders will stand up against the politics of hate?

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Photo showing the “Trump Keep America Great 2020” banner draped across the stage at the Whatcom Republicans’ annual summer picnic held on July 11, 2019, at Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale, Washington. Photo is displayed on the Whatcom Republicans’ Facebook page

By Sandy Robson

August 11, 2019

The Bellingham Herald published an August 5, 2019, article, “Ferndale Police investigating signs promoting white supremacist ideology.” The article reported that the Ferndale Police Department is investigating posters linked to a group called Patriot Front which were placed in downtown Ferndale, Washington.

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Click the graphic to access the August 5, 2019 Bellingham Herald article, “Ferndale Police investigating signs promoting white supremacist ideology”

According to the article, it is believed the posters were likely placed during Ferndale’s  July 27, 2019, Old Settlers Grand Parade. Ryan Reilly, a Ferndale resident and anti-racist activist, reported having seen several flyers that day posted on utility poles at points along Main Street.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Patriot Front as “a white nationalist hate group that broke off from Vanguard America in the aftermath of the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, of August 12, 2017.”

On its website the Anti-Defamation League describes the Patriot Front as “a white supremacist group whose members maintain that their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it solely to them.” ADL’s website, goes on to state: “Patriot Front espouses racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance under the guise of preserving the ‘ethnic and cultural origins’ of their European ancestors.”

The August 5, Bellingham Herald article also reported:

“In an email, [City of Ferndale Communications Officer Riley Sweeney] Sweeney said Ferndale is ‘one of the most demographically diverse’ parts of Whatcom County, and city officials denounce the politics of hate.

“‘Ferndale is a welcoming community to all people, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or country of origin,’ he said. ‘We stand united against racist, xenophobic groups that promote bigotry and hatred. Our county has an ugly history of racism and that is why it is more important than ever to speak out and say with absolute clarity that Ferndale rejects white nationalists and anyone who wishes to divide us by prejudice.’”

Ryan Reilly, who was interviewed in the Herald article, had taken photos of some of those posters, some of which, displayed different messages. One poster shown in the photos taken by Reilly was printed on white paper and featured red and blue lettering with text that read, “KEEP AMERICA AMERICAN, Report Any And All Illegal Aliens, They Are Criminals.” The Patriot Front group’s website address was listed at the bottom of the poster, and a Patriot Front logo was displayed in the middle of the poster.

On that same poster, a phone number was also listed for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Investigations Tip Line, which, according to the ice.gov website, is intended for people to use to report any tips about “suspicious criminal activity” 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Looking beyond a city spokesperson’s public statement

City of Ferndale Communications Officer Riley Sweeney’s stated that “We [Ferndale] stand united against racist, xenophobic groups that promote bigotry and hatred,” and that, “city officials denounce the politics of hate,” although, that does not appear to be the case with the top city official in Ferndale, Mayor Jon Mutchler. Currently running for reelection in the November 5, 2019, general election, Mutchler is also the founding pastor of the Ferndale Alliance Church.

While Mayor Mutchler may not intentionally be supporting or promoting bigotry and hatred, there are ways in which his support of a group here in Whatcom County, does help to support and/or promote bigotry and hatred. And, in terms of denouncing the politics of hate, Mutchler, so far, has not done that in the specific case of that same local group which does support and promote bigotry and hatred.

That group is the Whatcom County Republican Party which is referred to on its organization’s website, Facebook page, and in its advertising as the “Whatcom Republicans.”

Clearly, not all Republicans in Whatcom County support and/or promote bigotry and hatred. However, as evidenced by its actions, the Whatcom Republicans’ organization does support and promote bigotry and hatred.

Whatcom GOP’s support of Donald Trump

Despite Trump’s exhibited bigotry, hatred, racism, and misogyny, Whatcom Republicans continues to support and promote him and his agenda. Their organization supports President Donald Trump, and supported him in his 2016 presidential campaign. In 2016, the Whatcom Republicans officially recommended Republican candidates Donald Trump/Mike Pence for President/Vice President, listing their names on the slate card that their organization mailed out to some local voters for the election that year.

Whatcom GOP 2016 recommendations
Photo of Whatcom Republican slate card mailed out to voters, promoting its organization’s recommendations on candidates for the November 2016 general election

On Election Day, November 8, 2016, the Whatcom Republicans posted on its Facebook page: “Florida just called for Trump. A new America is coming.”

Whatom GOP Trump support posts
Screenshot taken on November 9, 2016, showing two posts (the top one is a November 9, 2016 post and the bottom one is a November 8, 2016 post) displayed on the Whatcom Republicans’ Facebook page

The day after the election, on November 9, 2016, the Whatcom Republicans posted on its Facebook page: “Nothing stands in our way of making America Great Again. Go President elect Trump and Vice President Elect Pence.”

We have been experiencing President Trump’s “new America” since his inauguration on January 20, 2017. For the last several years we have witnessed, and continue to witness, Trump, as both a presidential candidate and as president, repeatedly exhibit bigotry, hatred, racism, and misogyny.

Whatcom Republicans, on its website’s homepage, displayed a graphic featuring the 2016 Trump/Pence logo with the “Make America Great Again” slogan alongside it for approximately two years, until finally changing it sometime after January 31, 2018.

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Screenshot (taken on January 31, 2018) of the banner featuring the Trump/Pence logo displayed on the Whatcom Republicans’ website’s Home page

Demonstrating its organization’s continued support and promotion of Donald Trump, was a March 16, 2019 post on the Whatcom Republicans’ website which read:

“We are pleased to announce that you can get a complimentary Keep America Great hat with a $25.00 contribution to the Whatcom Republicans. Make a real difference, and show your support for American greatness!”

“Keep America Great” is the trademarked slogan of Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.

On its organization’s Facebook page, Whatcom Republicans has posted pro-Trump messaging as well as posts defending against negative news stories about Trump and/or his administration. And, there have been numerous posts on Whatcom Republicans’ Facebook page providing tracking polls about President Trump’s job approval ratings, promoting the idea that a majority of the public feels positive about the president.

Ferndale mayor’s support of and by Whatcom GOP

Ferndale Mayor Jon Mutchler supports, and is supported by, the Whatcom Republicans. According to Washington state Public Disclosure Commission online filing records, he has contributed to the Whatcom County Republican Party’s bona fide political party committee in seven of the last eight years, including this year.

The Whatcom Republicans endorsed Jon Mutchler for Ferndale mayor in the recent primary election that was held on August 6, 2019, and also endorsed him in the November 3, 2015 general election when he first ran for mayor of Ferndale. PDC online filing records show that Whatcom County Republican Party’s bona fide political party committee contributed to Mutchler’s mayoral campaign in the November 2015 general election.

Whatcom GOP endorsed candidates
Screenshot of Whatcom Republicans’ endorsed candidates for the August 6, 2019 Primary Election

As a 2014 candidate for Whatcom County Charter Review Commission, Mutchler received the benefit of independent expenditure advertising in support of his campaign, paid for by the Whatcom County Republican Party’s bona fide political party committee.

Along with contributing to, and receiving campaign contributions from, the Whatcom Republicans’ political party committee, Mutchler has attended the Whatcom Republicans’ annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser and attended their annual summer picnic multiple times over the last several years, even speaking on-stage during at least one of those picnic events.

This year, at the Whatcom Republicans’ July 11th picnic held at Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale, according to a photo posted on their group’s Facebook page, there was a large red, white, and blue banner draped across the front of the stage with the slogan “TRUMP KEEP AMERICA GREAT 2020” displayed on it.

In that same photo of the stage at the July 11th picnic, three large photos can be seen, each of which is displayed on a separate stand and placed on the stage. One was a photo of Tony Larson, a conservative candidate running for Whatcom County Executive, and the other two photos were of Kathy Kershner and Ben Elenbaas, both of whom are conservative candidates running for Whatcom County Council positions. All three conservative candidates were endorsed for the August 6, 2019, primary election by the Whatcom Republicans.

Sen. Ericksen’s Trump advocacy 

In the 2018 Whatcom County primary election, Ferndale’s mayor, Jon Mutchler, along with the other five small city mayors, publicly supported fellow Ferndale resident, Republican State Senator Doug Ericksen, for reelection to the 42nd Legislative District senate seat. In addition, Mutchler contributed to Senator Ericksen’s 2018 campaign for reelection, and to his 2014 campaign for senate.

Senator Ericksen is arguably one of Donald Trump’s most ardent advocates in Washington state. He was the deputy director for the Washington state Trump campaign in 2016, and was instrumental in bringing Trump’s campaign rally to the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden, Washington, that was held on May 7, 2016.

In 2017, while still maintaining his job as a state senator, Ericksen had been employed for a period of 120 days with the Environmental Protection Agency, after having been appointed by the White House administration to a Temporary Transitional Schedule C position as Senior Adviser at EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Ericksen’s appointment back at that time was made effective January 21, 2017, and it ended on May, 20, 2017.

Undeterred by Trump’s bigoted and racist actions which the public has witnessed over the last few years, Senator Ericksen has, on a fairly regular basis, posted on his Facebook page providing his followers tracking polls about President Trump’s job approval ratings, advancing the idea that a majority of the public feels positive about the president. Also, the senator consistently has posted pro-Trump messaging as well as posting defensive arguments and deflections attempting to combat whatever negative reports involving Trump are in the news.

Illustrating Ericksen’s adulation of Trump was a July 31, 2018, op-ed he authored that was published by The Seattle Times. In his opinion piece, Ericksen proclaimed that Trump’s first year as president had been a resounding success.

Praising Trump’s actions on immigration, Ericksen wrote:

“Trump is keeping his promise to secure our borders, and make immigration policy work for American prosperity by demanding funds for a border wall and lobbying Congress to end chain migration and immigration lottery programs. Trump promised to put ‘America First,’ and that is what he is doing.”

In the closing paragraph of his op-ed, Ericksen wrote: “No matter how you slice it and no matter how you feel about the results, Trump’s first year in office is one of the most successful of all time.” The Whatcom Republicans posted a July 31, 2018, Facebook post on their Facebook page featuring Senator Ericksen’s op-ed.

The Whatcom Republicans endorsed/supported Senator Ericksen’s 2018 and 2014 campaigns for 42nd LD senate.  Ericksen’s name was listed on the slate card of recommended candidates that the Whatcom Republicans mailed out to some local voters for the 2018 general election. A November 3, 2018 post displayed on Whatcom Republicans’ Facebook page shows that Senator Ericksen was one of the candidates pictured as having been endorsed/supported by the Whatcom Republicans.

Screenshot of a November 3, 2018 post displayed on Whatcom Republicans’ Facebook page showing Senator Ericksen was one of the pictured candidates endorsed/supported by the Whatcom Republicans

A review of the Whatcom Republicans’ Facebook page shows that their organization has focused a noticeably large amount of attention to promoting the pro-Trump state senator from Ferndale, along with having provided defense in response to the numerous negative news stories about Ericksen which have plagued him over the last few years as a result of his close association with Trump’s campaign and his White House administration.

Another Whatcom GOP-supported candidate exhibiting bigotry 

Another example of the Whatcom Republicans supporting and promoting racism and bigotry is when in the 2018 election season, their organization officially recommended then-Republican candidate for the 40th LD (position1) House seat, Michael Petrish, listing his name on the slate card that their organization mailed out to some local voters for that election. In addition, according to PDC online filing records, the Whatcom Republican Party’s bona fide political party committee contributed to Michael Petrish’s 2018 campaign for the 40th LD House seat position.

Petrish’s opponent in the November 2018 general election was Democratic candidate, Debra Lekanoff, who went on to win the election to become the first Native American woman ever to be elected to the state’s House of Representatives. During the campaign, Petrish made numerous anti-tribal treaty rights and anti-tribal sovereignty remarks. During a September 19, 2018, town hall event held in Bow, Washington, he equated Native American Tribes and Nations with casinos, and he implied that Native American Tribes’ campaign contributions are bribes

Whatcom GOP supported Bostrom’s 2017 run for City Council 

Another demonstration of the Whatcom Republicans supporting and promoting bigotry and hatred was during the November 7, 2017, general election when the organization announced in a September 11, 2017 blog post on its website, its official endorsement/support of Eric Bostrom, in his race for Bellingham City Council.

Bostrom Whatcom GOP endorsement support
Photo of Whatcom Republican slate card mailed out to voters, promoting its organization’s endorsed candidates for the November 2017 Whatcom County general election

Many people have witnessed Bostrom in Bellingham, on multiple occasions, when he would stand on various street corners holding his signs with what many people consider to be hateful and bigoted messages such as his signs condemning the LGBTQ+ community.

Bostrom was, and still is, a big advocate of Donald Trump. He also strongly supports President Trump’s endeavor to build a wall. A March 9, 2017, post displayed on  Bostrom’s Facebook page features a graphic with large text that reads: “BUILD THAT WALL.” There are numerous posts on his Facebook page in support of building the wall.

A February 4, 2019, post displayed on Bostrom’s Facebook page contains text that reads: “I THINK IT’S WRONG TO BAN SEVEN COUNTRIES FROM THE U.S…many more countries need to be included in the ban.”

Besides the Whatcom Republicans’ endorsement/support of Bostrom’s 2017 campaign, PDC online filing records show its political party committee contributed $1,300.00 to Bostrom’s 2017 campaign for Bellingham City Council. Also, according to the PDC’s online filing records, Bostrom contributed to the Whatcom Republicans’ political party committee in 2016 and 2017.

A July 13, 2017, post displayed on Eric Bostrom’s Facebook page showed that he not only attended the Whatcom Republicans’ annual picnic held that same day (July 13th) at Berthusen Park in Lynden, Washington, but that he also stood on the stage, speaking then as a candidate for Bellingham City Council, to the picnic attendees.

Bostrom at Whatcom GOP picnic
Screenshot photo of then-candidate for Bellingham City Council, Eric Bostrom, shown on-stage speaking to attendees at the July 13, 2017, Whatcom Republicans’ annual summer picnic held at Berthusen Park in Lynden, Washington

Whatcom GOP chose Nick Adams as keynote speaker in 2018

Falling right in line with the Whatcom Republicans unapologetic embrace of Donald Trump, their organization brought in Nick Adams, a zealous supporter and defender of Trump, to be the keynote speaker at the Whatcom Republicans’ annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser, held in Bellingham on April 7, 2018. PDC online filing records show an April 7, 2018, expenditure of $1,478.40 was paid to Nick Adams correlating to his speaking appearance at the Lincoln Day Dinner event.

Nick Adams Lincoln Day Dinner Whatcom GOP
Screenshot photo of January 22, 2018 Facebook post displayed on the Whatcom Republicans’ Facebook page promoting Nick Adams who would be the keynote speaker at the April 7, 2018, Whatcom Republicans’ annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser held in Bellingham, Washington

Adams, a conservative activist and author of several books, is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and other conservative media outlets. He is the CEO of the Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness (FLAG).

According to its website, FLAG is an educational non-profit, dedicated to promoting “American exceptionalism.” Adams’ and FLAG’s reputed mission is to guard America’s exceptionalism, expose anti-Americanism, and defend America’s reputation.

A review of his social media activities reflects Adams’ concurrence with President Trump’s views and agenda, and his strong support for the president’s crusade for a border wall.

In February of 2019, Adams went on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” and defended President Trump’s January 27, 2017, executive order temporarily banning nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Also, Adams has argued that speaking English should be a requirement for immigrants to the U.S.

Adams has often voiced his viewpoint that feminists are suppressing men. In a video clip posted on YouTube of a January 16, 2014 appearance on Fox News’ Fox & Friends program, he told hosts Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Clayton Morris that, “Basically what feminism has delivered is angry women and feminine men.” He also said men are under attack, and that, “It’s a very hard time to be a man in today’s society.”

During the Fox & Friends segment, Hasselbeck asked Adams if he thought that feminism being on the rise was affecting national security. He replied:

“Absolutely, without a doubt. I think it has wide-ranging implications. Wimps and wussies deliver mediocrity. And men win. And what America’s always been about is winning. So I think it’s pivotal to the health of the country.”

In a February 25, 2016 opinion piece published on foxnews.com, Adams wrote:

“Just about every problem in America today is linked to political correctness. Declining educational standards, increasing secularism, the police not being allowed to do their job, an inability to secure her borders, a diminished America in the world theatre and reluctance to smash the evil of currently rampaging Islamism – all of it is rooted in politically-correct ideology. Nothing is more antithetical to America’s foundational principles.”

A need to denounce and renounce the politics of hate 

These examples of how the Whatcom Republicans continues to support and promote President Donald Trump despite his exhibited bigotry, hatred, racism, and misogyny — coupled with examples of how their organization supported and promoted Michael Petrish’s 2018 campaign for 40th LD senate, and Eric Bostrom’s 2017 campaign for Bellingham City Council, despite both of them having exhibited hateful and bigoted messaging, establish a record.

Adding to that record, was the Whatcom Republicans’ selection of Nick Adams, who has exhibited bigoted, racist, and sexist messaging, to be the keynote speaker for their annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser event last year.

In the face of that record established, so far, by the Whatcom Republicans, Ferndale Mayor Jon Mutchler has not denounced or renounced the Whatcom Republicans’ support of the politics of hate. And, he has chosen to embrace the Whatcom Republicans, continuing to support its organization as well as accepting support from it.

So, until Mutchler, both a mayor and a pastor, denounces or renounces the Whatcom Republicans’ support of the politics of hate, and stops his support of, and accepting support from, their organization, then Ferndale’s Communications Officer Riley Sweeney’s statements that, “We [Ferndale] stand united against racist, xenophobic groups that promote bigotry and hatred,” and, “city officials denounce the politics of hate,” ignore the reality hiding in plain sight in the city of Ferndale.