Inflation wasn’t the only statistic that rose last year. White supremacist hate messaging is on the rise too.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism (ADL) tracked a dramatic rise in hate messaging directed by white supremacy groups in 2022. The hate communications reached a five-year high across the country, much of it is targeted locally and at local events. Country-wide this represents a 40 percent year-over-year increase.
As former President Donald Trump holds his first major MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) campaign event in Waco, Texas, it would be good to shine a light on the environment of retribution and harassment being created.
Waco is the site of the symbolic beginning of the right-wing, anti-government movement of the Branch Davidian Complex. That Trump has chosen it for his rally tonight would appear to be a dog whistle to the far right.
At least 50 different groups distributed white supremacist propaganda last year. This includes distributing anti-Semitic leaflets at private homes in California, fliers left in the driveways in suburban Indiana telling residents to “Stand Up White Man,” and in North Carolina neo-Nazis standing side-by-side with Proud Boys picketing at drag show events. In Florida attendees at a football stadium were shocked by a laser projection of hate-filled messages in the stadium.
What is going on?
Hate messaging is designed not just to frighten and intimidate, it is meant to control. Its existence has become a recruiting tool for the far right — which now appears to be very near the mainstream of a large percentage of those who used to call themselves conservative Republicans.
Far-right Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Green have openly embraced the extreme rhetoric; Green even appeared at a dinner featuring white supremacist leader Nick Fuentes.
Normalizing hate appears to go hand in hand with normalizing violence.
The fact that there has been a 40 percent surge in hate speech, coincides with unfettered gun sales and a massive rise in gun violence, school shootings, and attacks on civilians in places from movie theaters, and grocery stores, to outdoor venues. This hate and violence can desensitize people to aggression and violence and accustom us to look the other way when racist or anti-gay or anti-immigrant incidents occur.
The flood of anti-Semitic remarks from Rapper Kanye West, and his connection to Fuentes only served to promote the white supremacist network he leads. It directly led to the laser incident at a Florida football stadium when the message “Kanye was right about the Jews,” was flashed on the screen.
The ADL’s report released earlier this month documented 6,750 separate incidents where white supremacist groups distributed hate-filled fliers, posters, stickers, banners, images, and graffiti, at a rate five times higher than in 2018.
“There is no question that white supremacists and anti-Semites are trying to terrorize and harass Americans and have significantly stepped up their use of propaganda as a tactic to make their presence known in communities nationwide,” said ADL Chief Executive Jonathan Greenblatt.
While ADL has documented at least 50 known white supremacist groups, three groups were responsible for 90 percent of the hate messaging: the Patriot Front, the Goyim Defense League, and the White Lives Matter movement.
But hate messaging is propagated by other more well-known far-right organizations, from the first one (the Ku-Klux-Klan), to the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and the Three Percenters, as well as various private armies who like to refer to themselves (illegally it should be said) as militias.
Other white supremacist adherents are connected to and shielded by evangelical Christian sects that are embracing what is being called Christian nationalism and dozens of other general “patriot” groups are tied to counties, states and regions.
All of this promotes the idea of a white America and doesn’t just verge on authoritarianism, but in Fuentes’ words, “We want this century to be the most Christian century in the history of human earth.”
That this flies in the face of the U.S. Constitution and in particular the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment does not appear to bother white supremacists.
The ADL has pointed out that the activities of the Patriot Front have demonstrated “an open admiration” for Nazism and national socialism. The group broke away from the earlier Vanguard America organization after the August 2017 Unite the Right extremist riot in Charlottesville, Va.
According to NPR’s Jan. 6 database, about 14 percent of those charged in relation to the Capitol insurrection said they were current or former military. NPR reports that one in five Patriot Front claim to have current or former military status, according to archives of the group’s private chats released by nonprofit media organization Unicorn Riot.
And this was before Elon Musk took over Twitter. In that short amount of time, anti-Semitic hate speech has doubled.
The impact of hate messaging, constant claims of a “great replacement” conspiracy theory, and rants such as this white supremacist speech by Fuentes, where he declared to his followers: “I love you, and I love Hitler,” is cumulative. He went on to promote Christian Nationalism, and attack the mainstream GOP, which he claims is not tackling the real problems facing the younger generation, which he calls “Christian Futurists.”