Senator Fielder and Representative Manzella to Celebrate Racist, Anti-Government Extremists This Saturday

Without a doubt, the important political story that has received the least coverage from the mainstream media in Montana has been the flirtation between certain Republican members of the Montana Legislature and anti-government, militia extremists. On our site, we have repeatedly chronicled support from Senator Jennifer Fielder and Representative Theresa Manzella for anti-government extremists, including support for those who have called for violence against the government to achieve their aims.

Well, they’re back at it again.

This Saturday, Fielder will be speaking at an event in Paradise, MT called “Principles of Freedom” or “Freedom & Property: Cliven Bundy’s story. Speakers will include Cliven Bundy, Roger Roots, and Senator Fielder at the four-hour long event designed to call upon “The local Sheriff…to do his job and uphold his oath to protect and defend the people.”

One assumes that the call on the local sheriff is to nullify federal law enforcement and prevent the sentence of Jake Ryan, who was found guilty for crimes stemming from the Malheur Occupation, from being enforced. Militia groups have already placed pressure on Sheriff Rummel not to pursue Ryan and federal officials were concerned enough about Rummel that they told a federal judge he was not cooperative with federal law enforcement.

So who will be attending this event?

Cliven Bundy is the model of the current militia movement in the West. Unwilling to pay the American people grazing fees and demanding that public land be available to him as a form of welfare, he led an armed standoff with federal and state law enforcement officers rather than pay his due. Bundy believes in the sovereign citizen movement, which holds that every person gets to decide if laws apply to him, has called on militia movements linked to domestic terrorism to defend his right to refuse to pay his fees, and is the kind of guy who tries to issue a citizen’s arrest on a sheriff.

And, of course, he’s the most repugnant of racists, one who thinks African-Americans might have been better off under slavery.

Roger Roots? Well, he’s a felon with a previous gun conviction who held racist and Anti-Semitic views so abhorrent that he lost a teaching job for his support of Adolf Hitler. Among his works was a tract called The Respectable Racist: 100 Things You Didn’t Know About Black People.” To be fair, he does run his own university called Lysander Spooner University, which offers free tuition. Because it’s a blog. You can read a bit more about his criminal record here.

Other speakers include Shawna Cox, who tried to break free from the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and the charming Andrea Parker, whose husband was acquitted after pointing a firearm at a federal officer at the Bundy Ranch. A legal expert, she’s known for her reasoned criticism of Jeff Sessions and stirring updates from the courtroom.

It’s tempting to dismiss this band of misfits who like to play dress up and pretend they are a militia, but as the SPLC and FBI have both noted, these groups provide fertile breeding ground for domestic terrorism ranging from armed standoffs with law enforcement to lone wolf actions.

It’s indefensible for members of the Legislature to support a meeting designed to pressure law enforcement officials to not do their jobs. It’s indefensible for representatives in our Legislature to not only meet with these extremists but to celebrate them, as Fielder and Manzella have repeatedly done. And it’s indefensible for the Montana Republican Party to elevate people with these kinds of abhorrent views to represent the state on the national stage.

I certainly hope a member of the Montana press attends this event and not only records what is said, but demands answers from Senator Fielder and Representative Manzella to explain their presence and long-term support for dangerous militia movements. I don’t think most Montana Republicans support this kind of extremism and I don’t think most know just how radical the views these women hold are.

Isn’t it time to let the people of Montana know just how dangerous the infiltration of the Republican Party by these extremists is?

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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