Initially, hangar tenants at the Reno-Tahoe Airport planned to hold a campaign rally for Donald Trump, but the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority prohibited the event on the grounds that it would disrupt airport operations and violate an emergency order that limits public gatherings to 25 people or fewer.
So the president’s campaign stop was moved to the Minden Airport in Douglas County, a noted Republican stronghold in the state.
In recent months, Minden and Douglas County have been the epicenter of racial tension in the region. Ugly public debate over the Douglas County Library’s proposed support of the Black Lives Matter movement and subsequent protests and counter protests have garnered national attention.
Last night for several hours before President Trump’s appearance at the Minden Airport, traffic on 395 south of Carson City was backed up for many miles. Rally attendees parked on both sides of the interstate on either side of Airport road.
Busses ferried people to the airport, but many remained on the roadside in anticipation of the President’s motorcade. On this edition of the Wild Hare, we walked along the row of supporters and asked them why they were there.
(See music credits below podcast transcript)
Hector Viera is from Fallon, Nevada. He was there with his wife Alexis and son Trevor.
“Yes, I believe that Trump was a person that we believed that he should be a president before he even ran for president. We always thought that we needed a business person with business sense for president and actually he’s up for answer a prayer for because we believe that what’s what we need in our government is people who are responsible that know economics and and other than just running for office for whatever the reason.”
I asked Viera if there were other issues that compelled him and his family to drive from Fallon. Viera said much of the reason he likes Trump is because in his view, the Democrats have expunged God from government.
“The biggest one for me being a Christian, is about abortion. I believe that God’s all children all lives matter, in my eyes, because … as a Christian, I believe that we have one God, the Creator, each one of us individually special.”
Then I came upon a man who did not wish to share his name standing in front of an old VW bus. He distributed photocopies of hand-written notes. In these days of numerous and bizarre conspiracy theories, I thought I was ready for anything. He looked me in the eye and smiled warmly and handed me a piece of paper with the name “Gottfried Feder” written across the top of the page.
At the time, I didn’t know that Gottfried Feder was a founder of Germany’s Nazi party, a leading demonizer of Jews. I asked him about Feder.
“He’s an economist. He’s got these principles of how to work the economy without interest on money, to get rid of that debt slavery, the usury because that’s why so many people struggle is that usury … you know, try to get a loan for a house or a car, you go to the bank and then you’ve got this usury so like $100,000 home, paying $200,000 … right … or for a car you end up paying 100,000 for a $40,000 car,” he said.
Later in my office, a cursory search of the names and books on the list revealed the latest in Nazi thinking. You hear the term Nazi tossed around, but this guy is indeed a modern day Nazi handing out propaganda on the side of the road.
I asked about another name on the list, E. Michael Jones, a noted antisemite.
“He was an English teacher. He’s got a monthly magazine comes out called Culture Wars. And he’s speaking basically about them. That tribe of people, which, I’ll lay it right out. Dr. Tony Martin. He’s, I’m not sure what he’s a doctor of, I think a PhD of literature or something, but he goes into the slave trade talks about, he’s done his research on who actually ran the transatlantic slave trade. And I could tell you who he says it is,” he said.
“Who does he say it is,” I ask.
“It was the Jews.”
Chet Adams stood on the side of the road holding a Trump-Pence sign festooned with small American flags. Adams is Sparks City Attorney. He smiled and waved at passing vehicles.
Several cars with BLM signage moved slowly past. Most of the BLM protesters just waved, and Trump supporters waved back, though passengers in one vehicle labeled with the letters BLM leveled profane insults at those who sat along 395.
“We are out here supporting President Trump and engaging in a protest, if you will, against socialism and communism. And we have several individuals pass us by … representing either Biden and Harris or Black Lives Matter, who essentially demonstrated to us that they thought that we were … number one, they used a lot of very foul female descriptive language against us. And it’s, you know, there’s no call for that,” Adams said. “I mean, if we cannot discuss our political differences in a reasonable manner, and that’s why we’re here. That’s why we support Trump is because he advocates for open communication, First Amendment, and we are certainly enjoying those freedoms today that he stands for.”
Adams said he supports the right to peacefully protest, no matter the cause. He said the reason he was standing on the side of the road with a sign was to exercise his First Amendment right to free speech.
“BLM is kind of inconsequential, but we’re here today standing up for Americans values, our Christian heritage and the freedom to support our candidates without being maligned, without being intimidated and threatened as we just were,” Adams said.
During otherwise peaceful protests, BLM activists have been assaulted in Minden and Nevada City, California recently. I asked Adams for his thought about BLM protests and counter protests.
“If you go back to our, we were founded, this country was founded on protests. We were, we have since evolved to recognize and appreciate peaceful protests. However, when governmental officials abrogate their obligations to protect their citizens by allowing a political group to destroy property within their jurisdictions, to injure, maim and kill the citizens who believe in them and their office, that is just total malfeasance of office. And it is something bigger than that. It’s not just the mayors. It’s not just the governors, but this is a nationwide movement, and who is promoting it? Who is behind it? Yeah. It’s what we call in the legal profession, speculation.”
Many vehicles parked along the road had California license plates. Adams said California Republicans are in Minden because they believe Trump will not visit California this election cycle.
“One of the more intriguing aspects of this rally is that we have seen, here’s a car right here from California, and we are being told almost to a person from California that the reason that they are here is that they realized that Trump will not be showing up in California for such a rally as this. So they have had to travel from Oakland. They’ve had to travel from Sacramento just to get here to see our president.”
Harry Cook is a Nevada native. He, along with his wife and son, sat in the back of his pickup truck adorned with American flags. Cook said he voted for Barack Obama.
“I’ve been self employed for 30 years and own a business, and you know what, I’ve seen the difference in the last 10 years that we’ve had here from his last four years, and our country’s doing good. Well until COVID hit. Now these fires and all that stuff, but being self employed, I’m in construction, I have a plumbing business, and we’ve been thriving.”
Jeff and Stephanie Johnson live on a ranch that faces 395. They stood at the end of their driveway festooned with Trump signs and flags. They were excited to see the president drive by their ranch.
I asked Stephanie Johnson why she supports Donald Trump.
“Because he’s for the people. He wants to help America. He wants to have jobs. He wants people to make an honest living, to work. That’s what I like about him. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty and get out there. I mean, what person in their right mind will give up their salary for 4 years and get the abuse that he gets? What?”
“And he’s not a career politician … and he hasn’t been in Washington DC for 40 years,” said Stephanie’s husband Jeff.
“Is this what appeals to you,” I ask.
Stephanie said without hesitation, “Yes, yes.”
Music Credits as reported through the Public Radio Exchange, in order of appearance
Song: Sefi Ramirez
Album: White Monkey
Song: Horizon of Appearances
Artist: Steve Hauschildt
Song: It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World
Artist: DJ Spooky
Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings
Song: Super 8
Label: Ninja Tune
Brian Bahouth is the editor of the Sierra Nevada Ally and a career public media reporter. Support his work.