The revitalized white supremacist movement in this country, which largely concentrated its propaganda efforts on college campuses since the politically charged campaign season of 2016, last year increased its off-campus efforts, particularly in major metropolitan areas.
And the frequency of such white supremacist anonymous propaganda activities as “flash mob” demonstrations and banners hung from highway overpasses also increased last year.
Those are among the main findings of a study that was released this week by the Anti-Defamation League.
According to the report that was conducted by the ADL’s Center on Extremism, white supremacists’ propaganda efforts increased 182 percent in 2018, with 1,187 recorded “distributions” across the United States, up from 421 in 2017.
The number of public events conducted last year by while supremacist organizations — mainly Identity Evropa and Patriot Front — also rose, “although on a more modest scale,” the ADL reported.
The rise in white supremacist propaganda efforts parallels an increase in fatal violence attributed to “right-wing extremist” white nationalist and new-Nazis.
The propaganda, according to the ADL, “included everything from veiled white supremacist language to explicitly racist images and words, often featured a recruitment element, and frequently targeted minority groups, including Jews, African Americans, Muslims, immigrants and the LGBT community. In some cases, the literature was packaged in a plastic bag with candy or rocks to weigh it down.”
“Posting fliers is a tried-and-true tactic for hate groups, one that enables them to spread hateful ideas and sow fear across an entire community,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL national director. “Hate groups were emboldened in 2018, but their increasing reliance on leafleting indicates that most of their members understand this is a fringe activity and are unwilling to risk greater exposure or arrest.”
Carla Hill, senior investigative researcher at the Center on Extremism, said white supremacists last year increased their propaganda activities on campus, where many of the movement’s young members are based, but made a major push off-campus “to get their message out there … to spread their hateful views” to a larger number of citizens.
The Ku Klux Klan, which offers a similar anti-black and anti-Jewish message, continues to concentrate its activities in rural areas.
The white supremacist faction of the “alt-right” (or alternative right) movement, a loosely connected group of white nationalists, racists, anti-Semites and other fringe hate groups, is “a young movement,” Hill said.
Identity Evropa, which seeks to present itself as the new face of white nationalism, and Patriot Front, which, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “rehabilitated the explicitly fascist agenda of [the established] Vanguard America,” were formed in 2016, and 2017, respectively.
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Their off-campus effort last year was partly the result of campus police on several campuses restricting white supremacist activities, she said.
While immigrants, and not Jews, are the primary focus of Identity Evropa and Patriot Front propaganda, those groups also dislike Jews, who are seen as supportive of immigrants, Hill said.
The highest level of the groups’ propaganda activities last year, according to the ADL report, were in California, Texas, New York, Illinois, Florida and Virginia.