Notes on Whitefish, Montana Racist Activities
Whitefish and the surrounding towns have been in the spotlight over the past year as it was home to Nazi activist Richard Spencer. While he’s no longer associated with the town and the town overall hates the association, there is a (small) underbelly of people sympathetic to his views that exist in the area. More can be found about it here (featuring my Airbnb host as one of the counter-protesters!).
Here’s what I’ll say about it based on my limited experience. That area of Montana is pretty white, rural, and libertarian. There is a small, vocal group that considers that a bonus. Whitefish is also a tourist community that plays host to people from all over the world and values being an open, welcoming community for those tourists. It’s true that as a white person, I’m not the best expert on whether or not someone could experience overt racism if they visit the area. But I did see fellow travelers of various ethnicities both in the town and in the park while there. Their conversations with the locals were similar to mine - friendly, welcoming, and quick to offer advice about the best hiking, fishing, and restaurants. I firmly believe that travel can be enriching for both the tourist and the host community, exposing them to different people and points of view than what they’re used to seeing. And because of this, I always encourage people to not let small, bad elements keep them from going where they want to go. Sadly, this is far from the only place in America that is dealing with this sort of problem. But I did feel that I should at least put the warning out there so you can be aware and make that choice for yourself.