Aryan Cowboys: White Supremacists and the Search for a New Frontier, 1970-2000

Aryan Cowboys: White Supremacists and the Search for a New Frontier, 1970-2000

Aryan Cowboys: White Supremacists and the Search for a New Frontier, 1970-2000

Aryan Cowboys: White Supremacists and the Search for a New Frontier, 1970-2000

Excerpt

My expedition into the extremist right-wing corners of the white American mind began in November 1992, when Amendment 2 passed in my home state of Colorado. I had just moved to New Mexico to pursue a Ph.D. in history at the University of New Mexico, but I deliberately maintained my voting status in Colorado for a couple of extra months specifically so that I could vote against that legislation. Blatantly homophobic and overtly discriminatory, Amendment 2 ensured that gay, lesbian, and bisexual peoples had no recourse if they were fired or denied housing on the basis of their sexual orientation and stripped them of any basis on which to claim discrimination. Orchestrated by Colorado for Family Values (CFV), a right-wing Christian fundamentalist group based in Colorado Springs, Amendment 2 shocked pundits and progressives everywhere because it had passed (52 percent to 48 percent) in what people thought was a "liberal" Western state.

I knew how the amendment had passed. I had been watching CFV's grassroots campaign for at least six months. It was a masterpiece of spin and organization, employing such catch phrases as "family values," "fairness," and "no special rights" to downplay its exclusionist message. CFV's foot soldiers also knew their target audience. They didn't expend much effort in the heavily populated Denver/Boulder area, considered urban and socially progressive. Instead, they concentrated on smaller rural communities that tended to be more conservative, especially where God and sodomy are concerned.

When the returns rolled in, I felt as though I and my progressive views had been ridden out of town on a rail, like an outlaw whose worldview of her home state was completely transformed for the worst. Barely settled in New Mexico, I had no ties yet to my new home and those I felt to my old had been cut—without my consent, without my participation, without a chance to really draw battle lines. I felt as if the earth had been ripped from under my feet. I had grown up in rural Colorado and graduated from high school in a town of 3,000. The people who had voted "yes" included people with whom I had gone to school, people who had been neighbors. I felt an almost overwhelming sense of sadness that spin had trumped logic and that many of my friends no longer felt welcome . . .

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