I am a woman. I am a legal immigrant. I was born in Russia (the late USSR), grew up in Canada, and moved to Whitefish, Montana in 2011.
Beyond being madly in love with the awe-inspiring natural environment of the Flathead Valley and Glacier Park, I already have roots in this town. My child was born here. One of her first words is “deer” in my mother tongue: she waves to them through the window as they come over every afternoon to shamelessly munch on the neighbor’s garden. My child was delivered at North Valley Hospital by a highly skilled local doctor. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the neck, and she saved this newborn with quick thinking by performing a C-section. Indeed, I chose this doctor as my OBGYN because she had successfully operated on me in an emergency surgery shortly after my relocation to the United States. I was in pain. I was terrified. And she saved me, too! People like this doctor made me believe that Whitefish is a wonderful community.
Yet all this changed in late 2014, when my family and I first faced the kind of hate and intimidation that I did not expect from a country that professes values of democracy, freedom, pluralism, and free speech. I was heavily pregnant at that time and feared complications due to incurred stress. Recently, things have escalated further. Our family has received numerous threats of violence, and addresses thought to belong to us were illegally publicized inviting people with baseball bats to pay us a visit — in fact, a writer for Politico was asked to resign for doing so. Our extended family, friends, acquaintances, and associates had their business and livelihoods threatened with boycotts or anonymous phone calls to their respective places of employment. Many of these actions occurred under the Orwellian banner of “human rights.”
Having grown up in the Soviet Union, I am particularly sensitive to such witch hunts. They bring up painful ancestral memories. In the 1930s, a number of my family members had perished in the Stalinist system. One of them was my great grandfather, a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church. As a community leader, he was seen as a threat to the new atheist government. My great grandfather refused to publicly deny the existence of God, and local Communist authorities imprisoned him. Then — according to the information that we received — they shot him right in his jail cell. My grandfather grew up as the son of the “enemy of the people.” Threats and intimidation, which my current extended family continues to experience in Whitefish, remind me of the way my grandfather was forced to live.
Would you like to know who I am?
I am the wife of Richard Spencer — a thinker and political activist in the alt-right, who promotes positive identity for peoples of European descent around the world. In fact, he supports the assertion of authentic identities for the diverse peoples of all backgrounds.
I believe my husband has been misrepresented by the same establishment media that lied to us about Iraq, Libya, Syria, and beyond. But even if he had the most reprehensible views in the world, it is pluralism and healthy debate that are signs of a civilized society, whereas threats and intimidation indicate a descent into barbarism. Indeed, living in Canada — a country that suffers under stifling political correctness — it was the liberating feeling of free speech that was one of the most attractive aspects of the United States for me. Was I wrong to think so?
Perhaps I am naive, but I still believe that most residents of Whitefish, Montana are great, hard-working people, who love freedom, and who lead a balanced life amidst stunning natural surroundings, while being respectful to others, even if they disagree with their views. As English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”