Matt Shea and the Roots of the Local Far Right
Matt Shea (WA State Rep from Legislative District 4, Spokane valley and points north) and Heather Scott (ID State Rep from Bonner County, ID, just across the state border) both visited and paid homage to the Bundys and their armed followers during the Bundy takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in 2016. What is the common cause between the Bundys of Bunkerville, Nevada, and state legislators from eastern Washington and northern Idaho? Is the common cause political or religious?
In 2011, Leah Sottile, then a twenty-something music editor for the Inlander, was living in downtown Spokane. Her apartment was down the street from where a bomb containing black powder, rat poison, fishing weights, and human excrement was set to blow up participants in the MLK Day parade. The bomb was noted by city workers and defused by the bomb squad. For most us the bomb and what it might have done faded into distant memory. but, as a budding investigative journalist, Ms. Sottile’s needed to know more. That bomb set her off on a multi-year quest to understand the man who made it and the movement that inspired him.
The result of her effort (so far) is two seasons of writings and podcasts, Bundyville and Bundyville, The Remnant. She reminds the listener of a long series of such crimes and happenings that have occurred over forty years, crimes each of which was unsettling at the time, but then faded in societal memory (and my memory). She traces a thread through all of them. The result is profoundly unsettling and important. It is well worth your time to listen or read. (The two season series is produced through a collaboration of LongReads.com and Oregon Public Broadcasting. It is a little challenging for an old guy to queue up the series in order with Bundyville first. Take my advice, click on the names in the first sentence.)
I found the whole series more captivating than fiction, the more so because Ms. Sottile is writing on an issue directly pertinent to the Inland Northwest. If your time is limited, at least read or listen to Chapter 4--The Preacher and the Politician where you'll find the smiling face of Matt Shea and a visit to Marble Country to which Matt Shea maintains extensive ties. This read and/or podcast are great background for Sheriff Knezovich's Town Hall The Threats We Face next Tuesday evening, from 6-8PM at Center Place Regional Event Center 2426 North Discovery Place Spokane Valley, WA 99216.
Leah Sottile deserves a Pulitzer for her efforts. It inspires me to see a young person interested and brave enough to do this work. Listen and/or read. Everyone in this region should be aware of this background.
Keep to the high ground,