Missoula Do-Gooders Unprepared for Refugee Blowback

by William Skink

I got a book in the mail yesterday, one I had been eagerly anticipating. It’s by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke and it’s titled Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity.

Mary Poole and the rest of the moms in her book club, where the inspiration to open a resettlement office in Missoula happened, should read this book. Here’s just a snip from the introduction:

In the 1980s and 1990s, the far right witnessed a dramatic revival in Europe and America, especially among an alienated white youth and lower-income groups increasingly marginalized by new high-tech industries and the advancing integration of ethnic minorities in their communities. The fast increase of Hispanic and Third World immigration in the United States and corresponding immigration from developing countries into Western Europe has fueled fresh fears of racial inundation. The collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia has led to further migrations involving Gypsies and East European nationals to Western Europe. Free-trade agreements, the collapse of traditional manufacturing industries and the export of service jobs abroad through computer communications are stimulating racism and hostility toward liberalism.

Globalization is unleashing a massive flow of capital, information, skills and personnel across national borders. The Western world is now rapidly moving through a period of far-reaching structural transformation. Borders are increasingly permeable. Skilled workers, economic migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are migrating in increasing numbers into the advanced industrial countries. The arrival there of increasing numbers of immigrant peoples confronts traditional national culture with unfamiliar customs, norms and religions. At the beginning of our new century, the very idea of the nation-state is hard-pressed by these cultural trends. A century later, liberalism and laissez-faire capitalism are again seen as the motors of unwelcome and threatening change. And once again, extremist nationalist reaction echoes folkish ideas by concentrating on defensive ideologies of race to counter threats to national and cultural identity.

This books was published in 2003, before the Neocon/Neolib consensus of perpetual war created the worst refugee crisis since WWII. The right-wing response to these conditions have returned Neo-Nazism and other forms of white supremacy to a position of cultural prominence. American politicians don’t seem to have a problem with this when it’s located in countries like Ukraine and directed at Russian speaking citizens, but when it starts bubbling up into mainstream politics via Donald Trump, watch out.

When Mary Poole’s book club is done with that book, they can read this piece by Dave Crisp about how difficult it is in Montana for poor people to get legal help:

An aging population, suicidal and homeless kids, Indian child welfare cases, rising domestic violence—Yellowstone County caregivers and advocates laid out a litany of legal troubles during a forum Wednesday.

In presentations at the Billings Access to Justice Forum at the Mansfield Health Education Center, many witnesses called for more money and more resources. For Montana residents with little money or with disabilities, legal help is too expensive and too hard to find, witnesses said.

“State funding for victims’ access to justice is critical,” said Erin Lambert, director of programs at the YWCA, which hired its own staff attorney to assist victims of domestic and sexual violence. The YWCA has served 30 victims in just the last two months, she said.

Other witnesses said legal help was needed to fight not just abusers but government bureaucrats. One witness, identified only as Vicky, said she fought a two-year battle with Medicare before obtaining a $3,000 scooter that helps her carry on daily life while coping with cerebral palsy.

“I didn’t know where to go or what to do,” she said.

Vicky was among the lucky few Montanans who get legal help through the Montana Legal Services Association, said Alison Paul, director of the association.

“They won the lottery,” she said.

If you’re poor and disabled in Montana, getting legal help is tantamount to winning the lottery. This is coming from people on the front lines in Montana who see the lack of resources and the dire need every day. For some people, especially women fleeing domestic violence, it’s a matter of life and death.

The link above is to a news story from last year reporting that, by September, Montana had already seen a record number of people killed by their domestic partners:

The number of people in Montana killed by their spouses or partners has reached a new record.

“We’re in the middle of a bad year,” Matt Dale, executive director of the Office of Victim Service at the Montana Department of Justice, told the Legislative Law & Justice Interim Committee on Tuesday.

Sixteen people have been killed in 2015 in Montana by their current or former spouses or partners, or were children killed in such incidents.

That’s the highest number since the state started tabulating such “intimate partner homicides” in 2000 — and the year’s not over.

“We still have October, November, December left, and many years it’s the final quarter, those last three months, we see actually a spike,” Dale said.

Undaunted, the do-gooders will continue their efforts. Here’s how a Missoula Current piece concludes:

Other cities in the state have contacted Soft Landing hoping to follow suit, including organizers in Helena and Bozeman. As for Missoula, Poole said, the community has stepped up to help resolve a pressing global challenge, even if the answers don’t come easily.

“We’re not talking about hundreds of refugees being placed here once,” she said. “We’re talking about a few families at a time. We’ll have the flexibility and time to figure out what the needs are, and we definitely have the excitement in our community to do this.”

Good job, ladies. I’m so glad you are helping to resolve this pressing global challenge. Who cares that our state can’t meet the current needs of our poor, our disabled, our mentally ill? Who cares that American foreign policy created this mess, and electing Hillary Clinton will make it worse? Who cares that suicides are rampant and meth is permeating our state? There are refugees to save, and thanks to the insanity of American foreign policy, saving refugees appears to be a growth industry.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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10 Responses to Missoula Do-Gooders Unprepared for Refugee Blowback

  1. petetalbot says:

    Always good to see you echoing the far right, Skink. Just like the letters to the editor from Plains and Darby about “Missoula Do-Gooders” and the need to take care of Americans first! There’s no way we can accomplish both: take in a few refugees while assisting the homeless, the addicted. the abused, you and they say. You do Swede and Eric proud.

    • I don’t think you get it. the backlash that I don’t think you are prepared for either will be against liberalism more broadly, so while you might want to blame the GOP for Trump, I think Democrats deserve some of the credit–if they nominate Hillary Clinton–for giving us President Trump.

      here are some things to ponder, first from a Taibbi article last month in Rolling Stone:

      Every four years, some Democrat who’s been a lifelong friend of labor runs for president. And every four years, that Democrat gets thrown over by national labor bosses in favor of some party lifer with his signature on a half-dozen job-exporting free-trade agreements.

      It’s called “transactional politics,” and the operating idea is that workers should back the winner, rather than the most union-friendly candidate.

      This year, national leaders of several prominent unions went with Hillary Clinton – who, among other things, supported her husband’s efforts to pass NAFTA – over Bernie Sanders. Pissed, the rank and file in many locals revolted. In New Hampshire, for instance, a Service Employees International Union local backed Sanders despite the national union’s endorsement of Clinton, as did an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers chapter.

      Trump is already positioning himself to take advantage of the political opportunity afforded him by “transactional politics.” He regularly hammers the NAFTA deal in his speeches, applying to it his favorite word, “disaster.” And he just as regularly drags Hillary Clinton into his hypothetical tales of job-saving, talking about how she could never convince Detroit carmakers out of moving a factory to Mexico.

      Unions have been abused so much by both parties in the past decades that even mentioning themes union members care about instantly grabs the attention of workers. That’s true even when it comes from Donald Trump, a man who kicked off the fourth GOP debate saying “wages [are] too high” and who had the guts to tell the Detroit News that Michigan autoworkers make too much money.

      You will find union members scattered at almost all of Trump’s speeches. And there have been rumors of unions nationally considering endorsing Trump. SEIU president Mary Kay Henry even admitted in January that Trump appeals to members because of the “terrible anxiety” they feel about jobs.

      “I know guys, union guys, who talk about Trump,” says Rand Wilson, an activist from the Labor for Bernie organization. “I try to tell them about Sanders, and they don’t know who he is. Or they’ve just heard he’s a socialist. Trump they’ve heard of.”

      and here’s an angry white guy who is increasingly sounding like a Trump supporter:

      Greg, I have been saying pretty much the same thing for some thirty years or so now, and for that, I’ve been kicked off all the latte lefty sites! Mini barfus DESTROYED the Dem party in Montana, and paddy quitter wms. helped! These guys were Dinos. But worse than that, they were freakin’ WIMPS! No balls, no nuts, no glory! They simply turned the entire Dim party into wussies!

      Hell, didn’t used to be this way. You’re from Butte. Ask around. There WAS a time when Dems were feared! And then, we elected Mini Barfus and Paddy Quitter Wms., and the next thing you know we were all about gun control and fag votes! NOT the brightest strategy to win elections in Montana! Oh sure, I like fags much as the next guy I guess. But god DAMN, don’t base your entire frickin’ PARTY on queers and gun control!

      so, while your fellow blogger mocks the anti-refugee sentiment in Montana and calls for direct confrontation, angry white men like LK think you’re soft and want a strongmen to restore America to its former fictional greatness.

      does that sound familiar?

      • petetalbot says:

        I’m not sure quoting LK bolsters your argument. And you’re of on a bit of a tangent, Skink. I’m not laying blame on the GOP or Dems or Clinton or Trump in my comment. I was pointing out that by calling the “ladies” who are concerned about refugee families “do-gooders” is analogous to the right’s attacks on humanitarian social policies — some of which you hold dear — like help for the homeless, the abused and the disenfranchised.

  2. Greg Strandberg says:

    Good job. Prepare to be called a bigot, however.

    After all, you care more about the abused and homeless people that are currently living here than those that could be.

    Shame on you for that unruly stance. Don’t you know a string of nonprofits and other ‘help’ organization stand to lose a lot of money should people like you keep speaking up?

    Maybe it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. Who knows, a book club might decide your plight is important one day.

  3. Eric says:

    All we have to do is look at the monthly terrorist attacks around the world, to understand that it would be sheer lunacy to open our borders to invaders (refugees) at this time.

    The Great Leader took a break from his dance lessons to give a $2.00 statement about it yesterday, and Hillary acted like she was talking about th weather when she talked about the attacks in Belgium.

    LK is right on this – even my father, who was a Roosevelt-Democrat hated the party of Gay rights, gun control, and affirmative action. I asked him when the party was hijacked, and he said late 60’s to early 70’s. I’ll bet he’s turning over in his grave at the sight of the 2000’s.

    • petetalbot says:

      You realize, Eric, that the U.S. isn’t Europe. There’s a little something called the Atlantic Ocean separating us from the flow of refugees pouring into the European continent. We aren’t going “to open our borders to invaders (refugees) at this time.” It will be a small number of vetted refugee families that will settle in the U.S., and an even smaller number that might end up in Montana. And those in Montana will be under such a microscope that if they so much as jaywalk, alarms will go off.

  4. As I have long maintained, party politics is mostly contests for moral and intellectual superiority over opponents. That’s why party faithful indulge in sports fan-like agony and ecstasy over election outcomes, but otherwise are asleep at the wheel.

    The Syrian refugee matter is a chance to demonstrate moral superiority. Nothing more. If you want to talk about the bigger picture, don’t talk to Democrats. They ain’t interested.

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