Here's a draft of our Tuesday editorial.
Boiseans know very little about Hammerfest 2012 — just enough to be outraged.
Fronted by the white supremacist group Hammerskin Nation, the music “festival” is supposed to take place somewhere in or around Boise on Saturday.
The group bills this concert as a 25th anniversary celebration. And since a quarter century of racial intolerance is obviously not something to be very proud of, the group is revealing nothing about the location — hiding in the underground where cowardice and hatred thrive.
Why must this group find its underground here — in a state that has for too long had to endure the stain and the stench that follows even small groups of bigots? Perhaps we’re just in the wrong general area at the wrong time.
“They generally hold their concerts in places where they’re very strong or getting very strong,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. “So it does suggest they are growing in influence in the Northwest.”
Boise is better than this. And the human impulse — when confronted with this kind of anger and intolerance — is to do something to try to prove it. To wait for the Hammerskins to emerge from the darkness, and demonstrate wherever they gather.
A counter-protest calls undue attention to this group. And worse, it creates a volatile situation.
Yes, there is a fine line here. Ignoring hatred, and the people who peddle it, allows these unwanted, unwelcome groups a toehold. But confronting hate groups, in a public square, may cause an ugly situation to turn even uglier. Potok, who tracks hate groups for a living, says counter-protests at Hammerskins events have erupted into violence. That’s warning enough for us.
On Saturday, let the Valley’s law enforcement officers do their job, and don’t make their job more difficult. Let them maintain order at the scene.
If you want to speak out against what the Hammerskins stand for, by all means do so. Talk to your friends and family, especially those who live outside the Valley. Tell the Valley’s side of the story via social media. (It’s only fair, after all, since the Hammerskins like to use social media to publicize their hatefests.)
And then, stay away.
One of the great things about the Valley, on weekends when summer gives way to fall, is its abundance of community events and activities. The Hammerskins, who have a constitutional right to espouse repugnant views, also enjoy a constitutional right to assemble. The rest of us, meanwhile, have every right to be elsewhere.