As if Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio wasn’t bad enough, in steps Shaun Winkler, a white supremacist running for sheriff. As a Republican, Winkler hopes to become Bonner County, Idaho’s next sheriff. As anybody running for office will tell you, media attention is something welcomed and often sought by candidates. That said, not one to be self-effacing, Winkler invited media outlets to a “family gathering” hosted at his compound where they were treated as any Republican political candidate would have them, to a lovely evening of wining and dining, complete with a cross burning ceremony under the stars. As a member of the northern Idaho Klu Klux Klan klavern, Winkler explained that it was important to include the sacred and religious observances to change perceptions. After all, how can one hate the Jews if they love Jesus Christ, right?
This from the Bonner County Daily Bee:
SANDPOINT — It’s unlikely that any other Bonner County sheriff candidate spent their Friday night like Shaun Winkler.
At his compound just outside Priest River, Winkler and other family members of the northern Idaho Ku Klux Klan klavern held a get-together that included a nighttime cross lighting. Winkler, 33, is also tied to the Aryan Nations and Church of Jesus Christ-Christian. He has participated in racially-charged Kootenai County protests.
According to Winkler, cross lighting, more commonly known as cross burning, often provokes strong reactions from most people. That’s why the ceremony is conducted in private within the compound once a month or so.
“Generally, for a cross lighting, it’s extremely rare we’d let any media there at all,” he said.
However, after discussing the matter with his family and associates, Winkler agreed to allow photos and outside observation for the ceremony. He said the evening was meant to express both camaraderie and religious devotion.
The evening began like many a family picnic elsewhere in the country. Group members barbecued and enjoyed a congenial meal with one another. About 20 people attended the event, although not everyone wore the iconic klan robes. Three attendees specifically identified themselves as members of the klavern. Winkler mentioned that not every member of the group could make the trip.
Afterward, Winkler called everyone’s attention to speak for about a half-hour on the racial, political and social groups they opposed. Finally, once darkness fell, the evening concluded by setting a wooden cross afire.
That particular action, Winkler predicted, would be the source of much misunderstanding.
“Mainstream society looks at cross lighting as a symbol of hate, but it predates the klan by hundreds of years,” he said. “We look at it more as a religious symbol.”
According to Winkler, the religious component of the ceremony dates back to back to Scottish origins, when clan members used it as a means of communication. He also saw it as a pointedly Christian symbol, a representation of Jesus Christ’s light spreading to the rest of the world.
[...] Despite the unpopularity of his racial views, Winkler is soldiering on with his sheriff’s candidacy. On Monday, he participated in a candidate’s forum at the Blanchard Community Center. He continued to insist his Ku Klux Klan ties would not impact his performance as sheriff or make him susceptible to racial profiling. Instead, he would focus on tough stances regarding drugs and sex offenders.
“Most people don’t know that we don’t just oppose the Jews and the negroes,” he said. “We also oppose sexual predators and drugs of any kind.”
Winkler added that if he had his way, perpetrators of sexual crimes would be hung immediately.
As for the cross lighting and his other white supremacist links, Winkler admits that those who oppose him for his viewpoints probably won’t come around. Given that likelihood, he’s not worried about alienating potential supporters.
“I think at this point, whoever is going to disagree with me will keep on disagreeing, and those who agree with me will keep on agreeing,” he said.
Personally, I think it’s good to see a Republican candidate brave and honest enough to show their true color. I wish there were more candidates like Winkler. You know, this way we don’t have to waste time with the silly arguments about whether the Republican party is made up of racist xenophobes, and bigots. I don’t know about you, but voters tend to place a premium on a candidate’s honesty. That said, with candidates like Winkler, we sure can’t go wrong, no?
“In the event I was elected sheriff, I would not act on racial profiling,” Winkler said. “Being in the white power movement, I know how it feels to be profiled by law enforcement.” (source)
Yeah, I’m sure you do know about that profiling thing, Shaun…
I’m sure you do remember Cherie Buckner-Webb, and what y’all did to her.