Sunday, December 10, 2023

EDITORIAL: Tower above the abyss of extremism

| November 8, 2023 1:00 AM

Look to Luke.

Capt. Luke Emerson of Coeur d’Alene, that is.

“I served this country on deployments with the Army Special Operations Command as a trauma nurse and I have witnessed first-hand the effects of violent radicalization,” he said. “I’m standing up against political violence and extremism because our communities deserve better.”

Emerson’s statement reflects the motivation and the commitment of a growing number of Idahoans who are standing up together against the threats — actual and potential — posed by radicals. In late April, a coalition formed a nonprofit called Idaho Leaders United. If that sounds familiar, there’s a reason.

Last week, The Press announced that Idaho Leaders United has awarded its inaugural Pillar of Idaho award to Coeur d’Alene Mayor Jim Hammond. The anti-extremism organization honored Hammond “in recognition of his exceptional leadership in the wake of an incident involving the arrest of 31 individuals with ties to a white nationalist hate group.

“Despite immense external pressure, Mayor Hammond’s swift response, close collaboration with law enforcement, and resolute stance against extremism have set powerful examples for leaders across the state,” Idaho Leaders United said in a statement.

Because of an anonymous citizen’s report of suspicious activity, the Coeur d’Alene Police Department’s superbly executed response and Mayor Hammond’s leadership every step of the way, that “incident” ended before it had a chance to really begin. To this day, we can all be grateful that the arrest of the 31 extremists occurred before they could unleash their planned havoc, which could have resulted in tragic consequences.

Jim Hammond represents the very best kind of leader. He speaks softly and respectfully. He’s as intelligent as he is religiously devout. He exudes kindness but won’t be bullied or let those in his sphere of influence be bullied, either. As an appellation, Pillar of Idaho fits Jim Hammond perfectly.

While the mayor’s honor offers further evidence that our community will not sanction safe harbor for political extremism and the threat of related violence, Hammond noted that the incursion of 31 alleged patriots wasn’t entirely fueled by outsiders. “Some of our own” were on the side of those wishing to violently disrupt a peaceful Pride in the Park rally, he acknowledged.

Rather than simply scoff at such nefarious activities and allow rats’ nests of malignant personalities and their extremist agendas to fester here, consider supporting ILU. 

“Idaho Leaders United stands with the vast majority of Idahoans who reject bigotry and political violence,” the organization says at “Together we will defend the great state of Idaho, her future, and her legacy for every generation that follows us.”

When you stand with leaders like Jim Hammond and Luke Emerson, you too become a pillar of Idaho.

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