Sheriff candidate hosts cross burning - Coeur d'Alene Press: Political

Sheriff candidate hosts cross burning

Bonner County's Winkler: Misunderstood 'lighting' a pointedly Christian symbol

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Posted: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 12:15 am

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. Given that fact, the ceremony is generally 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, the group agreed to allow outside observation for the ceremony. Winkler 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. 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.

However, the Ku Klux Klan of the early 20th century effectively erased any other associations in the public consciousness when they appropriated cross lighting as a tool of terror and coercion.

According to Brenda Hammond, secretary for the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, the continued use of cross lighting is a matter of grave concern.

"It shows the need for the human rights task force has not gone away," she said. "Many of us on the task force have really regretted Bonner County's reputation for harboring racism when the vast majority of us don't think like that."

Despite the unpopularity of his racial views, Winkler is soldiering on with his sheriff's candidacy. On Monday, he participated in a candidates 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 alcohol.

"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.

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  • The Golden Mean posted at 2:01 pm on Thu, May 10, 2012.

    The Golden Mean Posts: 4213

    "Don't like him, don't give him your vote"

    I've never met the man, but I do know that...

    Cross burning is hateful and aggressive, period

    "Don't like it, don't attend his barbeques"

    This part is new to me. Do the hamburgers sit directly on the burning cross or is there some sort of cooking grill or grate mounted to it? By chance are the crosses was made of hickory or mesquite. If not you might consider changing for the extra flavor.

    Suggested Recipe Names: Hateburgers, Klanburgers, Bigotburgers

    I'm also curious about the logic of having a BBQ at a function where many of the guests are dressed in white sheets... That ketchup makes a nasty stain! And I'm sure that ribs are out since it's totally not practical to eat ribs with a white hood on your head.

    The thought of a bunch of grown men dressed in white sheets eating BBQ with their swastika bibs on... Oh look, little Jimmy has a little ketchup Hitler mustache... he's soooo cute!

    Enjoy your free speech! I know I have enjoyed mine!!!

  • heatherfeather posted at 12:29 pm on Thu, May 10, 2012.

    heatherfeather Posts: 297

    Winkler is free to do what he wants on his own property, as long as he doesn't pose a threat to others.

    Don't like it, don't attend his barbeques. Don't like him, don't give him your vote.

  • The Golden Mean posted at 8:51 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    The Golden Mean Posts: 4213

    "I am NOT a fan of the klan or their ilk, but I am DEFINITELY a supporter of their RIGHT to free speech AND expression"

    Let 'em express their brains out but DO NOT try to normalize their behavior. Cross burning is hateful and aggressive, period.

    There are ways to protest that do not provoke. For instance, I'm not a big fan of organized Christianity. To express that I could...

    A) Post 2736 anonymous free speech comments about how I feel
    B) Light a cross with Jesus hanging from it on fire and run for Sheriff

    Cross burning is hateful and aggressive, period

  • JoeIdaho posted at 5:48 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    FACT: The Black Panthers shoudn't stand at polling booths to affect elections.
    FACT: Liberals don't notice it.
    FACT: (2) TV Station reporters got beat by (30) Black people for being white
    FACT: Said TV station reported it (2) WEEKS later

    Libs like GM do their very best to portray anything that has to do with caucasions as being bad, and anyone else as being acceptable, or understandable. The idea that someone has to be "controlled" when speaking out loud their opinions, as GM & the rest are obstinate about, just shows that their belief in the First Amendment, the RIGHT to free speech, is something they'd just assume do without.

    As stated previously, I am NOT a fan of the klan or their ilk, but I am DEFINITELY a supporter of their RIGHT to free speech AND expression.

  • The Golden Mean posted at 5:21 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    The Golden Mean Posts: 4213

    "We're all entitled to our opinions regarding racism, bigotry, etc. What we are not entitled to is denigrating those out there who are brave enough to try and articulate those beliefs"

    I find your use of the word "brave" odd and choice when describing those who feel the need to share their hate with others.

    Perhaps then the terrorist who hates Christians is also being brave when he speaks of jihad?

    Fact: Reasonable people do not burn crosses!

    I think it is fair to say that the people should consider that when voting. One would want their Sheriff to be a reasonable person, right?

  • Buzzkill posted at 4:54 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Buzzkill Posts: 41

    Of course they're will always be racists, but their numbers are diminishing over time. Education is one of the best weapons against bigotry. Let's hope the voters send Winkler a message to go back to whatever rock he crawled out from and never be seen again.

  • justinwotis posted at 4:47 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    justinwotis Posts: 1

    People, people. We're losing sight of the story here. What sets us apart from animals is our ability to reason, this forum is nothing more than a barnyard. The point is simple, KKK meetings, whether reported properly or not, are KKK meetings. Just so happens that one of our Bonner County sheriff candidates attends said meetings. Like one of you previously said, enough said about that. We're all entitled to our opinions regarding racism, bigotry, etc. What we are not entitled to is denigrating those out there who are brave enough to try and articulate those beliefs, whether they fit within our beliefs or not.
    I want to raise a real argument on here, if I am allowed. The article states that the burning of the cross dates back to Scottish origins when it was used as a means of communication and also as a religious symbol, citing that cross burning in origin is not necessarily a sign of hate and bigotry as we all see it now. Did you know that before Nazism was ever conceived the swastika was a peaceful symbol used in many religions across India, as well as Hinduism and Buddhism? Does that make it ok to tattoo it on my arm and parade it around today? No, because the symbolism of the swastika has changed.
    Let's all try to consider the real facts and point of the story instead of arguing about semantics and the writers lack of skill. We're all human.

  • Flash Gordon posted at 3:00 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Flash Gordon Posts: 1644

    Joe....if being obtuse were an art form you'd be a Picasso you rationalizing bigot:)

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 2:35 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969


    I think you are absolutely right in your assessment. But as this battle will never end, so I find it best to let them be, until they start effecting my life. Without the extremes on both ends, what is right and wrong would be less easily defined, so I am just as happy to have all the wackos around, as long as they keep on the fringes where they belong.

  • capnbutch posted at 1:40 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    capnbutch Posts: 729

    Buzzkill and Jeffrey Wherley,

    Each of you has spotted a key issue: the outflow on the hate versus hate issue is growing very rapidly. Some of my Left-Wing acquaintances are hinting like Buzzkill that the right thing to do with Right-Wingers is to kill or incarcerate them all and to do so well before they cause offense. "Die off," is the giveaway.

    The trigger would be wrong thinking. Even if you were only the child of a wrong-thinking person, you might be eliminated from the gene pool without ever having offended anyone.

    Obviously, nobody says these things aloud but, if you examine the rhetoric carefully, no other thing is considered. Nobody has any proposals for building fresh attitudes. It is all about intolerance of intolerance.

    I cannot help but wonder what Tony Stewart or Travis McAdam would say to these observations. Neither offers a practical means to bring peace. Each is angry and each brings crowds together but neither offers a solution. That is the big vacuum in all discussions; How would this problem be solved?

    Harangues at local churches and service clubs have failed miserably and they are fewer every day. Large sums of money are given for printed material and classes in schools. None of that works. Nonetheless, the fervor remains.

    I suppose I will be attacked as crazy for broaching this concern but, if it is not addressed now, it will surely come up later and with more force.

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 12:56 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969


    Hate to kill your Buzz, but these "vile maggots" have been around in one form or another since man found fire. Someone has always been or felt they were superior to another, and always will. To think they will "die off" is very naive, and xenophobic.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 12:56 pm on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    buzzard, be glad when you go back to whatever den of inequity you came from.
    Maggots=Liberal Communists.

  • Buzzkill posted at 11:54 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Buzzkill Posts: 41

    Thank you CDA Press for putting a spotlight on these vile maggots. It's not easy to look at them, but it's good to know that things will get better when they die off.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 11:04 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Lanie, I agree with you one everything you said, 100%. We ARE all different, but it doesn't make us "bad", and (sorry) if you thought I was calling you a liberal, I reserve that for our local/out of town communistas.

    I also totally agree with those that DO NOT want to see another Weaver, a shame, to be honest, that this got reported like it did. I disagree with this guy (Sheriff Candidate's) beliefs, but going to his house for a cross burning??? Really?

    That being said, what he did was on his own land, what he believes are his beliefs, and those of Bonner County, if they elect him. There ARE people all over the world that are in positions of authority that are bigots that STILL do a good job of protecting their citizens. Been proven many times over.

  • IChoseNID posted at 10:48 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    IChoseNID Posts: 83

    I agree noname, the press should ignore these imbeciles.

  • Lanie11 posted at 10:47 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Lanie11 Posts: 67

    Oh and no way am I liberal...................I am a CONSERVATIVE!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 10:44 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    Nope, won't go national, No pictures. Not the first time someone like him ran for sheriff. Randy Weaver also ran for sheriff in 1988, 4 years later, Ruby ridge. Hope history doesn't repeat itself.

  • Lanie11 posted at 10:43 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Lanie11 Posts: 67

    Joe I do respect your view on things..............really but I just thought you had it wrong.............hey we are all different. mom was a sweet little Baptist lady and I was raised a Jew but I did the Christmas thing for my kids since we do live in a Santa Claus world and they loved it. If any relatives wouldn't have liked it, tough! My husbands were not a Jew.

    As for the guy who burned a cross, he did it on his prooperty so I don't care but I am pretty sure he does not have a rats a** chance of getting elected!

  • JoeIdaho posted at 10:26 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    OK, let's talk Jews.
    First, what I said wan't an "attack" on Jews. What is WAS was a display of the difference in reporting on different groups of people.I DO NOT condone the klan, aryans, or any of those idiots, the point I was making was that there IS sensationalism and that it's biased, completely.

    On Jews, (Lanie, speaking to you); I have known & do know many, very few from here. Where I moved here from, Detroit, everything I said was true. I dated a few Jewish girls, first thing that got said by Mom & Dad was "are you going to convert?" It was made plain to me that they didn't/wouldn't congregate outside of work with people that weren't Jewish, the same as the majority of many other religions, Muslims, Mormons, and others.

    Perosnlly, I could care less if Jewish people wanted to retian their identity as Jews, and actually applaud their willingness to try to continue on with their cultural beliefs. I see NOTHING wrong with it.

    I DO, however, see a problem with LIBERAL society in America denigrating ONE group of people for wishing to do the same thing, and that was my point. I coudl have used Muslims or any one of many other groups for my diatribe, I choce Jews becuase they are close to the polar opposite of Jews interms of how people think/stereotype. I fully apologize to any Jews that I may have offended, but I am steadfast in my belief that what I said is true.

    And Cat xo, NO, we shouldn't be discriminating against the klan any more than we should be against the Black Panthers or any other organization. They have the RIGHT to spout their beliefs, if you don't support them, fine, but to "discriminate" against them is wrong, IMO.

    As to the communists that wrote in response, get lost.

    Capn, I think your post was Brilliant. Wishing we could get people to actually LISTEN to reality.

  • Cat_xoxo posted at 9:57 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Cat_xoxo Posts: 10

    " Like I said, in the Jewish world, in order to marry a jewish person, you MUST covert to Judaeism, or the person you are marrying loses their familial ties to the Jewish religion, per Wiki:"

    Simply, not true Joeidaho. I have traveled out of Idaho to be a nanny in my life and lived with a Jewish family. The wife was not Jewish when she married him. Maybe you should get out of Idaho and not trust wiki before spewing your "facts".

    "Now, I don't agree with the klan etc, BUT I DO respect their ability to have opinions & not be denigrated and discriminated against."
    So we are not supposed to discriminate against the klan, but they are free to discriminate and denigrate all they want. Smart.

  • will-- posted at 9:50 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    will-- Posts: 1194

    It's a fact that the CDA Press has always had a soft spot for anything labeled "human rights task force"

  • Lanie11 posted at 9:40 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Lanie11 Posts: 67

    Hey Hey Hey JoeIdaho........what the heck was that about??? I usually agree with lots that you say on here but why are you attacking Jews??? I am Jew and of course I congregate with the rest of society because I am part of this society. Where on earth did you get your info??? Your statements this time were way off buddy!!!

  • Close Enough posted at 8:34 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Close Enough Posts: 134

    Gee, journalistic excellence continues at the CDA Press.

  • 986crazy posted at 8:22 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    986crazy Posts: 434

    Don't shoot the messenger.

    " Winkler, 33, is also tied to the Aryan Nations and Church of Jesus Christ-Christian. He has participated in racially-charged Kootenai County protests."

    'nough said.

  • Flash Gordon posted at 7:56 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    Flash Gordon Posts: 1644

    The article is about Winkler , his bid for elective office , and his affiliation with the kkk. So how does Joe respond? He goes off on the Jews. I bet he had to wipe the saliva off his computer screen with that response.....

  • chouli posted at 7:53 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    chouli Posts: 1294

    another proud idaho moment...

  • capnbutch posted at 7:41 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    capnbutch Posts: 729

    NoName and JoeIdaho,

    Seems like we all agree on this. Many speak up with the same opinion every time one of these articles surfaces.

    I would like to see thoughts on how we, as a group of readers, could improve the Coeur d'Alene Press and improve the education that produces these reporters. Such would-be journalists cannot possibly be bad kids but merely misinformed by an uncaring, impractical education mechanism.

    Whining at Mike Patrick and Cameron Rasmusson simply won't work; Asking them to see the larger picture would be unfair. Everybody whines at these poor guys anyway. Something has to be done to make improvement worthwhile in an industry where income is dwindling.

    I have wondered about advisory boards to colleges and universities and citizen's committees. I have daydreamed about requests to augment school boards with responsible consumers of news.

    I have thought about collecting funding for a substantial prize for unbiased journalism. Money for a large prize is available but I just cannot figure out how to build a committee and good oversight for a goal that everyone can trust.

    The disasters of the Pew Charitable Trust and the Ford Foundation come to mind. We don't want anything like those tragedies ever to happen again.

    I would like to see suggestions right here. I would like to see nominations right on this page today. Nominations would, of necessity, include skilled, caring people from both sides. I would want the very people who hate folks like me most. My only requirement would be that they treat each other and the goal with respect.

    It is an urgent quest because without something, there will be another Ruby Ridge. It is not a maybe. As it stands, another disaster is assured.

    I need help in thinking this project out.


  • NoName posted at 6:39 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    NoName Posts: 253

    I'm with Tom Carter on this..... no press is good press. Evey time the CDA Mess runs these type of stories it's like a becon attracking others of the same ilk to our area...... This will get picked up by the AP and will go nationwide within 48 hours.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 6:37 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Capnbutch hit the nail directly on the head.

    This article by design wil have North Idaho once again on the map as a spot where all the klan members go; when in reality that's a LONG ways from the truth. But anything for attention......

    Now, I don't agree with the klan etc, BUT I DO respect their ability to have opinions & not be denigrated and discriminated against. These people burned a cross on THEIR property; not someone else's. Their beliefs about the other races are NO DIFFERENT than the Black Panthers or any of MANY other groups that wish to seperate themselves from others. WHY; Press, is there NO reporting on the absolutely racist premise, for example, that Jewish men can't Marry non-Jewish women because their children can't be raised in Judaeism? It's a long known FACT that Jewish people don't congregate with the rest of society; seeing themselves as the "chosen people", but NO reporting on it from anyone in the press. Or; how about Muslims; who see the rest of humanity as "Infidels"? NO reporting on any of that, huh?

    BUT.......a white guy burns a cross at HIS house (caled a "COMPOUND" by the press, to ensure that people think it must be "fortified" somehow), and what happens?
    It MUST be a racist thing; more than that; we NEED to call the Uber Police, the "Human Rights Task Force", who are little more than a group of Morons looking for a fight with anyone they can find.

    Of COURSE, the "Human Rights Task Force", full of Liberals & Demrats, turns a FULLY BLIND EYE to anything that happens in the worlds outside of "white guy's a racist". Like I said, in the Jewish world, in order to marry a jewish person, you MUST covert to Judaeism, or the person you are marrying loses their familial ties to the Jewish religion, per Wiki:
    Family purity

    Main article: Niddah

    "The laws of "family purity" (tohorat hamishpacha) are considered an important part of an Orthodox Jewish marriage and adherence to them is (in Orthodox Judaism) regarded as a prerequisite of marriage. This involves observance of the various details of the menstrual niddah laws. Orthodox brides and grooms often attend classes on this subject prior to the wedding. The Niddah laws are regarded as an intrinsic part of marital life (rather than just associated with women). Together with a few other rules, including those about the ejaculation of semen, these are collectively termed "family purity"

    So, WHy is it that in order to Marry a Jewish person, there needs to be "Family PURITY"? Isn't this discriminatory against any other race?
    Ummm...YES absolutely.
    Think about the Protestants trying to enforce the idea that Protestants can't marry a Lutheran....there'd be an uproar like a jet plane taking off......
    The "Human Rights Task Force" should go somewhere where it's needed, like Zimbabwe.

  • capnbutch posted at 6:01 am on Wed, May 9, 2012.

    capnbutch Posts: 729

    These things are of concern, of course.

    However, the greater concern is that the reporter, Cameron Rasmusson, could not simply report on the event as an unbiased observer. Cameron felt compelled to insert angry opinion from an opposing group (though reports of events for that same opposing group would not be allowed to contain comments from Mr. Winkler's outfit).

    We are trying to end this trouble, not cause more of it.

    A good reporter lets each story stand on its merits. A good reporter builds trust. This grand scheme of subtle manipulation of public opinion fails in ugly, disappointing ways.

    We have more than our share of hate and counter-hate. Inappropriate media coverage caused three killings of innocent people in this region alone. Cameron, please go back to your textbooks and learn what a reporter is and is not. Find out what succeeds and what fails. If you allow yourself this vast luxury of manipulation for personal satisfaction, you damage your reputation and you hurt the newspaper.

    We want to know what happened. We already know your opinion. In fact, we already know everything that either side can say. We are the victims of pointless divisiveness. You can do far better. Doing better is how you can stand out as a reporter.

    We need the Coeur d'Alene Press to be a cut above and to clearly separate cold reality from opinion. The Press has for years been above the Spokane guys, refusing to steal other reporters' stories, refusing to embellish.

    The Press is not perfect but it serves us all well and is an essential component in Panhandle wellbeing.

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