White nationalism is morally abhorrent and runs counter to a free economy

Not only is AFPAC abhorrent and disgusting, it’s anti-business, and Idaho’s economy will suffer if its adherents grow their influence over our state politics, writes guest columnist Tara Malek.

March 4, 2022 4:00 am
Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin presides over the Idaho Senate.

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin presides over the Senate at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Idaho’s extremist Lieutenant Governor, Janice McGeachin, disgraced herself, the office she holds, and our state yet again by speaking at AFPAC last week. AFPAC is a white nationalist conference founded by Nick Fuentes and attended by those who promote exclusionary practices that harm both our economy and republic, including antisemitism, sexism and homophobia. In addition to featuring antisemitic speakers who espouse political violence against many groups, many attendees who streamed the event online used racial and antisemitic slurs and anti-Catholic and anti-Mormon rhetoric.

Not only is AFPAC abhorrent and disgusting, it’s clearly anti-business, and our economy will suffer if its adherents grow their influence over our state politics and continue to win elections.

National leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Mitt Romney were quick to step out on this issue, and this week, Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued a strong statement. Idaho GOP Chairman Tom Luna released this statement on behalf of the state party: “White supremacy, antisemitism, bigotry, and neo-Nazism are reprehensible and have no place in the Idaho Republican Party.”

Unfortunately, Idaho’s business organizations have been largely silent. The reason should be obvious by now. Alt-right candidates, bolstered by dark money groups like the Idaho Freedom Foundation, have hijacked much of the courage and statesmanship that used to define the Gem State.

As a small business owner, I continue to be appalled by the alt-right path many claiming to be Republicans have taken, courting donations and endorsements from extremist leaders, white supremacists, militia leaders who flout the rule of law, as well as QAnon conspiracy theorists. However, I’m heartened that for many, McGeachin’s speech to a gathering like this was a bridge too far.

McGeachin’s behavior, as well as the deafening silence on AFPAC from the fringe slate of candidates running for statewide office funded by the Freedom Foundation are a threat to business, industry and economic opportunity in our state. We need more true conservative Republican candidates who believe in limited government and free enterprise, and who believe all people deserve equal opportunities to get ahead in life, regardless of race or religion.

As a longtime resident of North Idaho, I’m no stranger to the white nationalist influences that have resurfaced in our communities and our politics. Idaho deserves better.

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Tara Malek
Tara Malek

Tara Malek is a former Kootenai County prosecutor and assistant U.S. Attorney. She is the co-owner of Smith + Malek and lives in Coeur d’Alene and Boise with her husband, Luke Malek.