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Distribution of White supremacist propaganda surged in 2020, ADL says

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There were 5,125 documented cases of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ flyers, stickers, banners and posters distributed in the US: an average of 14 incidents per day and almost double the 2,724 cases recorded in 2019, according to the ADL.

The ADL began publishing its data on the distribution of white supremacist propaganda in 2016.

Much of the propaganda “presents an overwhelming language of the veiled white supremacist with a patriotic inclination” in an effort to normalize the hatred of the white supremacist and strengthen recruitment, while simultaneously targeting minorities, the ADL.

Part of the material is explicit, invoking Adolf Hitler or Nazis. One states that “Hitler was right” while another flyer says “You don’t love,” where the enamored O contains a swastika while the word hate contains a Jewish star of David. Others pleaded “Reject White’s guilt,” “Open borders is the virus,” and one says “Black Crimes Matter,” an odious Black Lives Matter movement.

“Hate propaganda is a proven tactic for white supremacists, and this activity on the ground is now superior to what we recorded earlier,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL.

The ADL attributed the growth in activity to several factors. Experts who monitor extremism often report an increase in rhetoric and hate incidents during especially polarizing election years.

“These white supremacists who not only feel enthusiastic and daring in this environment, I would say they feel energized because you have elected officials at the highest levels, repeating their rhetoric, spreading their scapegoats and stereotypes,” Greenblatt told Kate Bolduan of CNN.

Activity increased despite blockages due to the coronavirus pandemic last year and in some cases because of it. The pandemic “generated online conspiracy theories and encouraged some far-right national extremists to take more public action,” the ADL said.

“White supremacists seem more excited than ever and the election year, the pandemic and other factors may have given these extremists an extra breath,” Greenblatt said.

The report includes details on the groups responsible for the propaganda and where the groups are located:

  • At least 40 white supremacist groups distributed propaganda. But the ADL said 92% were spread over three groups: Patriot Front, el New Jersey European Heritage Association i Nationalist Social Club. Patriot Front was also responsible for most incidents in 2019, according to the ADL.
  • The propaganda was distributed to all states except Hawaii. The highest levels were observed in Texas, where the Patriot Front is located, followed by Washington, California, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
  • Propaganda incidents on college campuses were halved, but the ADL believes some of that could be due to the pandemic and the lack of students on campus.
  • In 2020, the ADL recorded 283 incidents that included anti-Semitic language or were specifically targeted at Jewish institutions, a 68% increase in incidents compared to 2019.

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