Herald columnist Julie Muhlstein received this card, by mail at her Everett home, from the Texas-based neo-Nazi organization Patriot Front. The mail came in June, a month after Muhlstein wrote about the group’s fliers being posted at Everett Community College and in her neighborhood. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Herald columnist Julie Muhlstein received this card, by mail at her Everett home, from the Texas-based neo-Nazi organization Patriot Front. The mail came in June, a month after Muhlstein wrote about the group’s fliers being posted at Everett Community College and in her neighborhood. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Hate’s in the mail, and it’s up to us all to speak against it

Close to home, an African-American DJ was attacked and a Monroe man wrote online about killing Jews.

Back in June, I opened my mailbox to find an innocuous looking letter from Houston. It was addressed by hand, in neat printing, to “Julie Muhlstein,” with my north Everett home address.

I have a sister-in-law in Sugar Land, Texas, a half-hour from Houston. A former Herald photographer works for The Houston Chronicle. Opening the envelope, I expected a note from someone I know. What I found was nothing less than a shocker.

It was a sturdy little card with “Patriot Front” on one side, and on the other side, “Patriotism With Teeth.”

Patriot Front is a Texas-based neo-Nazi organization. The white supremacist group uses the phrase “blood and soil” — reflecting Nazi Germany’s anti-Semitic “blut und boden” philosophy. The phrase was chanted by white nationalists at last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

I know why I got that ugly card, with its logo of a fasces — a symbol used in Fascist Italy, a bundle with an ax blade emerging. It arrived the month after I wrote a Herald column about Patriot Front fliers showing up at Everett Community College. At the time, a sign on campus advertised an event hosted by the Muslim Student Association.

Patriot Front fliers were also found in May attached to north Everett residents’ yard signs that welcome diversity.

A stop sign defaced with a spray-painted swastika is on the ground at the corner of 25th street and Rucker Avenue while a City of Everett worker installs a new one in the summer of 2009. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

A stop sign defaced with a spray-painted swastika is on the ground at the corner of 25th street and Rucker Avenue while a City of Everett worker installs a new one in the summer of 2009. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

My unwelcome mail had the return address — 4635 Southwest Fwy., Houston — of a large, multi-tenant office complex. Hate groups, with their online reach, can connect with most anyone anywhere. The postmark said Houston, but those Patriot Front fliers were in my Everett neighborhood.

I wasn’t going to write about that mail — it’s just a card, after all. And I belong to no racial, ethnic or religious minority, although with my last name and my late husband’s paternal ancestry, one might mistakenly assume I’m Jewish.

What changed my mind, what had me digging through clutter to find that Patriot Front card, was our recent news.

We learned early this week that Dakota Reed, whose online name is borrowed from a Nazi death camp commandant, was arrested last Friday and that the FBI and county sheriff’s detectives seized 12 firearms, ammo and handwritten notes “associated with white supremacy.” The 20-year-old Monroe-area man is accused of making threats to carry out mass killings — his social media posts mentioned shooting Jews and shooting up a school — and of violating the state’s hate crime law.

And early Saturday, an African-American DJ was doing his job when he was attacked at the Rec Room Bar & Grill, north of Lynnwood. According to police reports and court papers, he was beaten, stomped on and called a racial slur. After seven men and a woman were booked into the county jail, the sheriff’s office described the accused Monday as “self-professed members of a neo-Nazi skinhead group.”

One of the alleged attackers, 34-year-old Travis Condor, runs a hate music record label, American Defense Records, and was photographed at the 2017 rally in Charlottesville, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The back of a card mailed to Herald writer Julie Muhlstein’s home from the white-supremacist organization Patriot Front says “Patriotism With Teeth.” (Dan Bates / The Herald)

The back of a card mailed to Herald writer Julie Muhlstein’s home from the white-supremacist organization Patriot Front says “Patriotism With Teeth.” (Dan Bates / The Herald)

The Rec Room Bar attack happened on the 34-year mark of the day neo-Nazi Robert Jay Mathews was killed during an FBI siege on Whidbey Island. Mathews headed The Order, a white supremacist group linked to the 1984 assassination of Alan Berg, a Jewish radio talk show host in Denver. Condor, according to news reports, had praised Mathews.

In another recent incident, two Glacier Peak High School students were disciplined for allegedly using cellphones to create derogatory Wi-Fi hotspot names, including some that contained a swastika. It happened during a Nov. 29 school assembly, and prompted school leaders to send parents a message saying the names contained “highly offensive, discriminatory, divisive, inappropriate and, in some cases, racially motivated messages.”

It’s true that hate speech can come under the umbrella of free speech. People have the right to say what they believe — or even to mail a message of hate to my house.

Yet I’m with Janice Greene, president of the Snohomish County branch of the NAACP, who said after the attack on the DJ that it’s important for the whole community to stand up against hate. “None of us can turn our head and look away,” Greene told The Herald.

We should take pride in the diverse crowd that turned out for the Nov. 1 vigil on the Snohomish County campus, where people paid homage to 11 victims of a gunman’s attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue.

A member of my book club, who is Jewish, shared at our meeting Wednesday night that she’s wary now when she worships at her synagogue. What a shame, what a crime that is.

Six months after getting a card that says “Patriotism With Teeth,” I’m still angry. Hate isn’t patriotism.

When a violent hate crime occurs, here or anywhere, what we should see is justice with teeth.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Everett
Man hurt in house fire east of Everett

The home in the 12400 block of 51st Avenue SE was reported on fire at 12:54 a.m.

A wanted suspect was arrested after a standoff with law enforcement Tuesday night. (Bothell Police Department)
Kidnapping suspect arrested after standoff in Bothell

A large police presence contained the property in the 20500 block of 32nd Dr. SE on Tuesday night.

Community Transit's Lynnwood microtransit pilot project is set to launch this fall with a service area around the Alderwood mall. (Community Transit)
Lynnwood’s microtransit test begins this fall, others possible

Community Transit could launch other on-demand services in Arlington, Darrington and Lake Stevens.

Doctor Thomas Robey sits in a courtyard at Providence Regional Medical Center on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘It’d be a miracle’: Providence tests new treatment for meth addiction

Monoclonal antibodies could lead to the first drug designed to fight meth addiction. Everett was chosen due to its high meth use.

Rev. Barbara Raspberry, dressed in her go-to officiating garments, sits in the indoor chapel at her home, the Purple Wedding Chapel, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Everett, Washington. The space used to be two bedrooms, but she and her husband Don took down a wall converted them into a room for wedding ceremonies the day after their youngest son moved out over 20 years ago. The room can seat about 20 for in-person ceremonies, plus it serves as a changing room for brides and is the setting for virtual weddings that Raspberry officiates between brides and their incarcerated fiancees at the Monroe Correctional Complex. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s oh-so-colorful Purple Wedding Chapel is in the red

Rev. Rasberry has hitched hundreds of couples over the years. After her husband died, she’s unsure if she can keep the place.

Everett
Man dies in motorcycle crash that snarled I-5 in Everett

Washington State Patrol: he tried to speed by another driver but lost control and hit the shoulder barrier.

Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, right, a Democrat, and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, left, running as a nonpartisan, take part in a debate, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Olympia, Wash., with Melissa Santos, center, of Axios Local, moderating. Hobbs and Anderson are seeking to fill the remaining two years of the term of Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who left to take a key election security job in the Biden administration. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sparks fly as Hobbs, Anderson face off in secretary of state debate

Julie Anderson called Steve Hobbs an “inexperienced political appointee.” He’s been in the job since Inslee put him there in November.

Zion Wright, 6, makes a face as Cecilia Guidarrama starts to massage cold facial cleanser onto his face during Evergreen Beauty College’s annual back-to-school beauty event on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dozens of kids get free back-to-school haircuts in Everett

For hours on Wednesday, training beauticians pampered families at the Everett campus of Evergreen Beauty College.

Jose Espinoza Aguilar appears in court via video for arraignment Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prosecutors: ‘Danger’ shot man in head ‘without provocation or warning’

Jose Espinoza Aguilar had just been released from prison in May for another shooting. He now faces charges of first-degree assault.

Most Read