This racist little nursery rhyme is from the Northwest Front (NWF), one of the more recent incarnations that the white supremacist movement has taken on here in this region. Their goal, called The Butler Plan, is the creation of a white homeland consisting of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and western Montana. According to their website:
“The Northwest Front is a political organization of Aryan men and women who recognize that an independent and sovereign White nation in the Pacific Northwest is the only possibility for the survival of the White race on this continent.”
The website for the Northwest Front sprung up in late 2009, and the rhyme refers to their vertical tricolor flag, which to some, looks suspiciously like the beloved Doug flag of the Bioregion of Cascadia, aka, the flag with the Doug Fir tree on it that people wave at Timbers games and back during the Occupy protests.
If the name Northwest Front sounds familiar, it’s because they were recently criticized as an escapist fantasy in the manifesto of the Charleston killer. The NWF was founded by white supremacist author Harold A Covington, who, I shit you not, was kicked out of the racist state of Rhodesia in 1976 for being too anti semitic.
The recent high-profile reference to the NWF has once again drawn attention to the white separatist author and his online organization. Photos of him standing in front of his flag are recirculating, reviving the question of whether or not Covington stole the idea for his tricolor from the Doug flag, which was created in 1995 by Alexander Baretich.
The NWF tricolor first appeared in 2004 on the front of Covington’s book “A Distant Thunder”, which is written in the tradition of NRA fan-fiction like “The Turner Diaries”. Set here in the Pacific Northwest, “A Distant Thunder” is the first novel in a series about a bunch of angry, broke, white guys who overthrow the US government by joining a volunteer army in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
The flag popped up again in 2005 on the cover of the second novel in the series, “A Mighty Fortress”, and then in 2008 on the cover of “The Brigade”.
It showed up once more in 2009 when the NWF’s website first went live, and has been up ever since.
It wasn’t until 2010 before the Doug’s creator and founder of Free Cascadia, Alexander Baretich, became aware that the NWF may have taken their design from his flag.
I had the chance to sit down and talk with Baretich about these concerns and how Free Cascadia has addressed the issue.
“How do you confront this?” he asks. “and the final conclusion was if we bring it up in social media, it only advertises it. So the goal in social media was to always delete anything about it, unless it was confronting it correctly.”
So Free Cascadia decided to “out-meme the Northwest Front”, as Baretich describes it. He designed versions of the flag with the transgender symbol and began directing people to a Wikimedia Commons page in an attempt to distance the Doug flag from the NWF tricolor.
Racist organizations have a reputation for adopting talking points and using popular imagery to hide white supremacist agendas, and this is not the only instance where the NWF has been accused of being unoriginal. In 2010, pictures of white families, taken from the stock photo agency Getty Images, appeared on the NWF site with the tricolor poorly photoshopped into the background.
Baretich also cites groups like the Hammerskins, who produce and promote white power music, as another example of hate groups who use well-known images to help spread their message. Their goose-stepping hammer logo is taken directly from “Waiting for the Worms and Hammer’s March” from Pink Floyd’s animation movie for “The Wall.” The group even ripped off Pink Floyd’s use of a floating pig stage prop.
“Typical of all white supremacists, they try to co-opt symbols that are not theirs,” he explains.
I ask Baretich if he thinks that the similarities between the flags and regions could make Free Cascadia susceptible to infiltration by NWF separatists and other white supremacists who might try to use the nebulous nature of the various Cascadia groups to their advantage.
“We’re always concerned about this,” he says, going on to describe the process for allowing people to join their Facebook page, which at this point, has over 5,600 members.
“We usually do a double-check on them…do they have the Confederate flag is a simple one. A Nazi flag is another simple one.”
I ask him about the ones who are maybe clever enough to not plaster their social media presence with white supremacist garbage.
“We do glean through that, there’s no way of knowing whether it’s going to be successful or not,” he explains, adding “we check around, we do watch.”
While some have written off the NWF as solely an online outlet for selling Covington’s books, those kinds of arguments dismiss the actual threat that the white supremacists pose.
Just last May, there was a confrontation in Olympia, Washington, where Nazi skinheads convened in support of an officer who had shot two African-American men. The skinheads were chased away by protesters in a hail of debris, which included blows from a fire extinguisher and a golf club.
Local fascists were pissed at the NWF for not showing up in support of their gathering, criticizing them on social media for just sitting behind computers while they took to the streets. From a now-deleted Facebook post found by Olydocuments, a publication dedicated to exposing fascism, white supremacy, and police violence:
“Northwest front. We thank you for ignoring your fellow racialist call for help we posted on your page. You want a homeland but aren’t willing to fight. You had 300-400 anarchists and antifa in your back yard! And you did nothing.”
While it might be tempting to enjoy the public shaming of the NWF, the fact that they were called out for being cowardly by not only a murderous little shit head, but a gang of Nazi skinheads living in this area is scary and bad, to put it simply. Not only could these accusations incite those who may identify as NWF, but motivate other white supremacists to take more escalated and violent actions as well.
“Seriously even talking to you about this, really kind of makes me afraid,” Baretich admits.
In spite of this fear, Baretich is firm that the Doug flag is going to remain as it is, wrapping up a successful fundraising campaign to bring the production of the flag back to the Pacific Northwest.
“That flag is my child. And so my goal is to protect that child. And protecting that child means staying to the original intent of the meaning of it, and that means not to be a flag of hate or exploitation.”