So… what could possibly connect the dire plight of Puget Sound orcas with the right-wing extremist militia movement? Well, as Dave Neiwert reveals in a fascinating and disturbing post at Orcinus: the BIAW.
Last week the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) filed a 60-day notice declaring their intent to sue the government over the endangered species listing for Puget Sound orcas, claiming local pods don’t warrant special protection:
“You can almost say any individual school of fish can be listed,” Harris said.
Calling this “malignant misinformation,” Neiwert methodically refutes the BIAW with something he likes to call “facts.” But…
Facts matter little to organizations like the BIAW. Their ability to ensure that developers have as few restrictions as possible in bringing pavement to every corner of the state is all that counts.
Even if, in the end, every last orca simply vanishes from these waters. If the BIAW has its way, that outcome is not just predictable, it’s guaranteed.
It may be a death by a thousand cuts, slow and incremental. But groups like the BIAW are killing orcas just as certainly as someone out hunting them with guns.
Yeah, Neiwert knows a thing or two about orcas — hence the name of his blog — but he’s also an expert on the right-wing militia movement, and by association, the BIAW.
The Building Industry Association of Washington is an organization that not only is ruthless to the point of consciencelessness, it also has become an extraordinarily significant player in Washington state politics. They are, in fact, one of the most powerful funders of the conservative movement’s agenda here.
And, perhaps unsurprisingly, they also boast a history of dalliances with (and underwriting of) right-wing extremism, particularly the Patriot/militia movement of the 1990s.
Neiwert goes on to detail the “even darker side to the BIAW,” chronicling its key role in funding, supporting and organizing right-wing property rights, secessionist, and militia groups. One of the key players was Jim Klauser…
…until recently he remained associated with the BIAW by sitting on its Legal Trust Committee. Klauser ran one of the BIAW’s major subgroups, the Master Builders Association of King County, and the Snohomish County office of the BIAW just north of Seattle.
He also founded an organization called the Snohomish County Property Rights Alliance, which became a front for militia organizing and other far-right activity…
One of SNOCO PRA’s leaders was a fellow named Ben Sams, who organized an “anti-New World Order” militia meeting in Maltby, Wash. The keynote speaker at the meeting was a fellow from the Militia of Montana named Bob Fletcher, who displayed maps describing a planned United Nations takeover of the northern Cascades region.
Klauser’s chief partner in organizing the Snohomish County secessionists was a local rabble-rouser named John Stokes, who ran an organization called the Freedom County Committee. Stokes later claimed he had gathered enough signatures to force a secession vote, but he vamoosed to Montana at about this time and the signatures were not submitted for several more months; when they finally were, the numbers validated didn’t come close to meeting the requirement.
Of course, Stokes has continued to foment right-wing extremist politics in Montana, where he bought a radio station and began broadcasting the home addresses of local environmentalists, a la Radio Rwanda. His attacks on liberals are especially disturbing as potential precursors to similar attacks elsewhere.
One of Klauser’s chief allies, a former Whatcom County BIAW official named Art Castle, went on to cofound a local Bellingham group that engaged in similar far-right recruitment. Castle now operates the Kitsap Home Builders Association listed as a local resource by the BIAW.
Neiwert goes into great detail. Really… read the whole thing.
And these are the folk who are trying to pack our state Supreme Court? If the day comes when liberals like me need to start arming ourselves, we’ll know who to blame.
Organizations like the Building Industry Association of Washington represent, in many ways, the essential face of modern conservatism: their bottom line is money and power, by any means necessary.
And we need to stop them… by any means necessary.