Something remarkable is happening in nearby Grant County, population 7,935. It is a story of courage and of standing up for America's bedrock principles of right versus wrong.

And it is a morality play that demonstrates no group based solely on the hatred of minorities can move into a community and expect to be greeted with open arms.

A splinter group of white supremacists called the Aryan Nations is considering moving its headquarters from Athol, Idaho, to John Day, just 100 miles from Wallowa County as the bald eagle flies.

This is not just a group of eccentrics who love swastikas and jackboots. It is a group whose philosophy focuses entirely on hatred - of African Americans, Jews and all minorities. A brief scan of the group's Web site, www.aryannations88.com, is all it takes to understand the level of hatred the group professes.

Apparently hoping to bully his way into a rural area, the group's leader - Paul Mullett, who was tossed out of another Aryan Nation group for his venom - has instead gotten the cold shoulder from townspeople.

Like our county, the John Day area is not prosperous. It continues to have a double-digit unemployment rate as its timber industry has been decimated by environmental lawsuits and a flagging economy. Sound familiar?

The last thing Grant County needs is a group of hate mongers to invade on a mission of intimidation.

John Day's local newspaper, the Blue Mountain Eagle, has taken a lead role in informing the citizens and preparing them for what might lie ahead.

It brought in speakers to help the community understand the seriousness of threats posed by the white supremists. The speakers were Norman Gissel, a Coeur d'Alene attorney who battled the original Aryan Nations group in 2000, and Tony Stewart, an Idaho human rights advocate who also worked against the Idaho group.

Citizens have now formed a countywide human rights coalition whose goal is to affirm the rights of all. Supporters will wear green ribbons as a way of showing their opposition to the Nazis and their ilk.

We are proud of the leadership role the Blue Mountain Eagle, a sister newspaper to the Chieftain, has taken in helping the community to fend off this group of extreme racists.

But all Americans can be equally proud of Grant County's citizens, who have decided to stand up for the principles we all hold dear.

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