True colors 

Meet Butte National Socialist Shawn Stuart

Shawn Stuart is no ordinary Republican. The 24-year-old combat veteran, the only Republican running to represent Butte’s House District 76 in the Montana Legislature, also happens to be a state leader for the National Socialist Movement, which dubs itself “America’s Nazi Party.”

News of Stuart’s affiliation, first reported April 1 by the Montana Standard, prompted a fast and furious denunciation by the Montana Republican Party, which denies it knew of his views or encouraged his candidacy, and whose spokesman told the Independent April 10 that it will throw its support behind the winner of the Democratic Party primary to cement its opposition to Stuart.

For his part, Stuart doesn’t seem to understand what the big deal is all about. He says he shared his ardently anti-abortion, anti-gay and pro-gun views with Republican representatives in Butte, but that he didn’t see the need to tell them about his involvement with a group that’s also virulently anti-Semitic and envisions an America where only white people can be citizens and members of all other races, as well as Jews and homosexuals, would be classified as aliens without rights. Freedom of religion would be absolute in the National Socialist Movement’s ideal society, the group’s 25-point platform says, provided that the “moral feelings of the White race” aren’t offended.

“Like anybody else, you can be part of one organization and part of another,” Stuart says. “I keep my political and religious beliefs to myself and don’t need to throw it down anyone else’s throat.”

Besides thinking party leaders didn’t need to be clued in, Stuart says he’s not sure he even would have bothered to tell voters about his National Socialist links, and in fact, when he was first questioned by the Montana Standard about the issue, he denied any involvement with the group.

Asked why, he responds with a curious analogy: “When Bill Clinton was caught up with Monica Lewinsky, do you think he talked to advisers before saying anything to the press?”

Stuart, who was born and raised in Bozeman and joined the Marine Corps after high school, served two tours in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom and was discharged in May 2005. After moving to Butte to attend Montana Tech on the GI Bill, Stuart says, he became involved in Republican politics through various local committees and the Young Republicans club.

His political and social affiliations with the National Socialist Movement began in 2004 in Iraq, Stuart says, when he came to believe the United States was fighting the war on Israel’s behalf. (Recent press releases about Stuart’s candidacy from a National Socialist representative refer to the “lies of the Jew-aligned media,” and the group’s website is peppered with its logo, the swastika, and images of Adolf Hitler, as well as elaborate conspiracy theories about Jewish domination of the world.) The National Socialist Movement announced the creation of a Montana unit in December 2005, and Stuart says he’s one of two state leaders who holds meetings and plans to conduct rallies, though he won’t say how many members he’s enlisted.

In an interview, Stuart resists being pegged as a white supremacist, saying that people unfairly label as racist those who merely support their own culture and race. As the conversation lengthens, though, he talks more about the differences between races and how it’s just natural for them to stay separate (“Do pelicans and crows hang out? No,” goes Stuart’s logic). Eventually, as his voice rises both in volume and vehemence, he expounds his belief that white people are superior: “We view ourselves as the master race. We’re number one and we don’t care what other races do.”

Travis McAdam, research director for the Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN), which alerted the Montana Standard to Stuart’s affiliations and was subsequently called a cover for a terrorist network by National Socialist representatives, says the MHRN is interested in the attempted legitimization of extremist views via mainstream politics. In 2005, for instance, Kevin McGuire, recruiter for the white supremacist National Alliance in Bozeman, ran for a position on the local school board but lost miserably. By relaying anti-abortion and anti-gay-rights views to Montana Republicans while staying silent on his more radical views, McAdam says, Stuart initially managed to tap into the credibility that accompanies membership in one of the two major political parties.

Stuart says he announced his candidacy to Republicans at the Butte Pachyderm Club’s Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner in March and that the response was supportive.

“When I said I was going to run, they said ‘That’s great.’ They said they’d help me out if I need them,” Stuart says.

Chuck Butler, Republican Party spokesman, confirms that local party representatives did offer support, but says Stuart never had any contact with the state party, and clarifies that even local support was based on the deceptive impression fostered by Stuart. After all, Butler says, what Republican in his right mind wouldn’t support an eager young Marine who had just returned from serving his country, was attending college and appeared to fit the conservative mold?

“He never told them he had this skeleton in his closet,” Butler says. “He made a nice appearance and got himself on the ballot and then he happened to say, ‘Oh, I represent some other interest.’ Had we known about it prior to the filing deadline, there would have been someone else, a person with true Republican values.”

Once the March 23 filing deadline closes, candidates are locked into the primary race and so the Republicans couldn’t kick him off the ticket. Even so, Stuart says, he tried to change his party affiliation to “National Socialist” once the Republicans rejected him—a move denied by election officials. Regardless, Stuart says he’s determined to run the full race, and he claims that losing official Republican support won’t hurt his chances. Perhaps ironically, he cites Abraham Lincoln’s political persistence as a root of his hope.

“Oh there’s always a chance. Lincoln went bankrupt twice, lost three elections and later became president—I can always have a chance,” Stuart says.

Butte’s voters, now fully informed of Stuart’s views, will decide just what those chances are.

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