Saturday, July 28, 2007

Today's zombie racist: some Idahoans

Idahoans were relieved when the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations left the state in 2001 and its Hayden Lake compound was torn down, erasing a symbol of racism in the state.

But much work remains to be done, [president of the Idaho Black History Museum, Cherie] Buckner-Webb said. "We've said, great, the Nazis are gone. Well, no, their compound is gone, but racist attitudes are still alive and well in Idaho, and all over the world."

Really? How do you figure, Ms. Buckner-Webb?

Oh, right.
News of racist threats dogging a college football star and his fiancée may surprise most residents of one of the nation's whitest states.

But Idaho blacks have seen trouble coming ever since Boise State tailback Ian Johnson, who is black, got down on one knee Jan. 1 to propose to cheerleader Chrissy Popadics, who is white, on national TV after scoring the winning points at the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

The couple will marry today. Johnson has reported receiving more than 30 threatening letters and phone calls from inside and outside Idaho.

"When Ian did that on television, every black person I know said, 'He's a fool. That boy just asked for trouble,' " said Keith Anderson, a former Boise State football player who has been married to a white woman for 14 years and has two sons.

"I thought, 'Uh-oh, this is gonna bite him,' " said Mamie Oliver, a leader in Idaho's African-American community since she came to teach social work at Boise State in 1972.

The threats have been widely publicized this week on national sports-talk radio, with some speculating the incident will add to Idaho's reputation as a racist haven and hurt Boise State's recruiting efforts.

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