An anonymous wave of racist fliers citing a “pro-white religion” called “The Creativity” has rolled through the Flathead Valley, landing on the doorsteps of businesses, inside retail stores and newspaper racks and even inside children’s books.
The most recent round of fliers was aimed at recruiting new members to a local chapter of the Creativity Movement, whose slogan calls for “the survival, expansion and advancement of the white race.”
One flyer touts “building a whiter and brighter world” and advocates “white racial loyalty without compromise.”
The leaflets are the latest example of racist and anti-Semitic activity surfacing in the region since last November, following a presidential election that emboldened members of the so-called “alt-right,” a euphemistic term describing a platform whose adherents frequently use to promote a racist, anti-Semitic agenda.
Hundreds of pamphlets and fliers espousing racism and anti-Semitism have cropped up in the past year in Flathead and Missoula counties, as well in Bozeman. In Whitefish, a neo-Nazi website launched an ill-fated effort to organize an armed march after inciting an online “troll storm” to harass local Jewish families and businesses, a sequence of events that drew national news coverage to the tiny mountain community.
The Montana Human Rights Network has been tracking accounts of anonymous pamphlets, verbal abuse and in some cases violence in the state, and the organization has received recent reports about the pamphlets promoting white supremacy in the Flathead.
Montana Human Rights Network Co-Director Rachel Carroll Rivas said the people responsible for the fliers could be devotees of the Creativity Movement or simply using the materials to distribute their discriminatory message in a region that has frequently drawn members of racist fringe movements.
In 2010, white supremacist Craig Cobb showed a Holocaust denial film in the basement of the Flathead County Library.
Cobb, part of the factious “Pioneer Little Europe” project that briefly established itself in the Flathead, identifies as part of the Creativity Movement, which prizes the white race above any others and has had small chapters spring up in different parts of Montana over the last two years.
The Creativity Movement’s leader, Matt Hale, is currently in prison for plotting to kill federal Judge Joan Lefkow in Chicago. According to the Montana Human Rights Network and Southern Poverty Law Center, in 2003 Cobb posted Lefkow’s home address to the white nationalist website Stormfront.org. In 2005, Lefkow’s husband and mother were murdered, though the killer was not connected to racist groups.
Carroll Rivas believes that while the movement’s membership is negligible in Montana, it does not diminish the offensive materials’ impact on members of the public who encounter it.
A moderate number of people identify with the white supremacist message, though, membership numbers aside, she said. And they don’t need large numbers to have an effect.
“It’s still very impactful and clearly incites fear,” Rivas said.
Cheryl Watkins, owner of Bookworks in Whitefish, said someone had placed leaflets promoting white supremacy in a series of children’s books, and also tore pages out of the store’s copy of Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl.”
“It was just incoherent and crazy, but it was definitely racist,” Watkins said of the materials.
Fliers have also recently been placed inside the pages of the Flathead Beacon at some distribution locations.
Flathead County is among those pushing back on the messages of hate, including organizing rallies promoting tolerance and diversity. Carroll Rivas said taking action helps not only the individual but also those people who are targeted.