North Idaho state Rep. Heather Scott, in a Facebook post on Sunday, defended white nationalists in the wake of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, a day earlier.
Scott posted a statement on her personal Facebook page late Sunday morning: “The way the media has set this up, the mention of white nationalist, which is no more than a Caucasian who (sic) for the Constitution and making America great again, and confusing it with term, ‘white supremacist’ which is extreme racism. Therefore, if one is ‘guilty’ of being white, one is clearly racist. And if one is white AND loves America, they are a white supremacist capable of carrying out violent acts against nonwhites.”
University of Idaho sociology Professor Kristin Haltinner, whose research focuses on conservative social movements including militias and the tea party, said white nationalism is an umbrella term that has historically included a number of white supremacist organizations including the Aryan Nations, the KKK, neo-Nazis and other groups.
“Unfortunately Representative Scott is incorrect in her definition of white nationalism,” Haltinner said. “A white nationalist is a person who believes in a falsely claimed superiority of white people over people of other races and supports the creation of a white homeland or nation; hence the term nationalism.”
Sophie Bjork-James, an assistant professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University who has researched the contemporary white supremacist movement — and who is a Sandpoint native — agreed with Haltinner.
“This definition of white nationalism is patently false,” Bjork-James said in an email. “White nationalists support the creation of a white ethno-state ruled by people of European descent. The movement espouses prejudice against people of color and Jews, and many white nationalists are aligned with neo-Nazi ideology.”
She said, “To counter the violence affiliated with this racist movement, politicians on all sides of the political spectrum need to come out forcibly against it. It should not be difficult to condemn a movement responsible for inspiring domestic terrorism and advocating racism.”
Scott, R-Blanchard, is a second-term state representative who’s known for her provocative and ultraconservative statements and positions. She’s aroused controversy by displaying a Confederate battle flag in a local parade, a move she strongly defended, and visiting the armed occupiers at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, among other incidents. She also has strenuously objected to routine bills over concerns she raised about such issues as national sovereignty, federal overreach and the Hague Convention.
During this year’s legislative session, Scott was stripped of all her committee assignments for three weeks after she charged that female members of the state House advance into leadership only if they “spread their legs.” She eventually apologized, and her committee assignments were restored.
Scott also raised eyebrows during her first week in office in 2015 when she climbed onto her desk and used a knife to cut a wire suspending a small item from the Capitol office ceiling, first asking two other lawmakers if they thought it could be a “listening device.”
Scott is seeking a third term in 2018; she’s being challenged in the GOP primary by Mike Boeck, a fourth-generation Bonner County resident, former Priest River Chamber of Commerce president, longtime county GOP central committee member and forest products industry employee.
Scott, a tea-party favorite, was an aquatic biologist before she gave up her work to devote her efforts full time to being a state legislator. She didn’t respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
This article first published in The Spokesman-Review.