The closest to a hometown I have. I attended all of high school there.
Yes, the Aryan Nations has made their home here for the last 30 or so years1. Yes, the 11th Hour Remnant occasionally leaves us brochures in our driveways explaining how the Jewish race descended from Satan. Yes, Ruby Ridge is not far from here
But honestly, people, we hate it just as much as you do. Let me describe to you what Coeur d'Alene, Idaho is really like.
As anyone who has driven through on I-90 will attest, Coeur d'Alene is beautiful. Coming from the east, you've been driving through the hills and passes of North Idaho (note: this bears no resemblence to the flat, dusty, potato-growing terrain the rest of Idaho is known for--think along the lines of a coniferous version of the Appalachians). You know Coeur d'Alene is just around the corner when out of nowhere, you come through a pass and Lake Coeur d'Alene appears below. You then decend for a little while into the valley that houses the city.
It's very quaint-looking. The only building in town of more than 4 or 5 stories is The Resort (formally known as "The Coeur d'Alene", but no one calls it that), which is owned by the same guy who owns the newspaper and the famous golf course with the floating golf green. There are lots of little shops downtown, mostly for all the wealthy tourists who are taking advantage of the lake, in the summer, or the skiing in the winter (which, despite what you may think, is quite good. There are at least 3 hills within an hour with more than 2000 ft. verticals, and probably more, but I'm not much of a skier)
Housing and cost of living are fairly expensive, and decently-paying jobs are hard to come by, though doctors and lawyers are of course well-off. But no one's getting rich. There are a steady stream of Californians who migrate here, and of course most of the old-timers wish they wouldn't.
The Aryan Nations compound is out north of town, and I've honestly never even been by it. In fact, the only time we're reminded that they're even there is when they have their yearly parade down our main street. They had either 2 or 3 while I was there, and I really regret not attending one in its entirety. I always got talked out of it
But I did catch the tail end of one one year. Believe me when I tell you these marches are pathetic. Their biggest year, they built up to it, calling it the "Hundred Man March." They flew in all their buddies from all over the country, whoever they could get, yet they only managed to assemble 91 marchers. There were more than 1,000 counter-demonstraters, which is fairly significant considering
- There are only about 35,000 people in Coeur d'Alene
- Judging from the editorial page in the local newspaper, more than half of the community felt a better way to oppose them would be to ignore them, boycott their events, have them march down a silent street with people turning their backs as they passed, etc.
The owner of the resort and the other touristy businesses here of course hate the whole situation. A few years ago, they hired a constitutional law expert to help them draft a city ordinance that would effectively allow the city to move the Aryan parades to a more remote part of town. "Next to the old dump," they would always throw in for the cameras. Of course, they don't mention that the old dump now has a quite large and pleasant park on top of it. Regardless, the ordinance was struck down as unconstitutional. I think the ACLU had a hand in it, though I don't remember for sure.
As far as the racial demographics, the place is lily-white, which is understandable, given our unfortunate reputation. There were maybe 2 black kids in my high school of 1300. But the non-white people who live here really have no trouble. An Asian friend of mine concurred with me when I asserted that in day-to-day dealings, it's simply a non-issue.
So even though the press loves to quote Richard Butler saying things like "We have planted seeds. Most of north Idaho now is filled with the people who escaped multiculturalism or diversity or whatever you want to call it," don't believe him. He's a sad, strange old man who is collectively shunned by the community.
1It looks as though he may be leaving. He was forced to give up his compound in judgement of a lawsuit recently filed against him (see The Southern Poverty Law Center vs. Aryan Nation and The Southern Poverty Law Center vs. Aryan Nation, Part II. But why does everyone refer to the "Aryan Nation" when every article and news blurb ever written correctly calls them the Aryan Nations?)