Data from the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism shows a 182 percent jump in incidents of white supremacist propaganda from the previous year, with distribution of anti-Semitic and racist materials remaining steady on campuses but climbing sharply outside of educational institutions.
Groups responsible for the fliers, stickers, banners and posters included Identity Evropa, Patriot Front, Daily Stormer Book Clubs, and Vanguard America — James Alex Fields Jr., sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Heather Heyer at the August 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, was photographed demonstrating with the last group, which denies he was a member.
ADL said that the propaganda push uses “veiled white supremacist language to explicitly racist images and words” and “often features a recruitment element” to draw in new adherents.
Large metropolitan areas were most often targeted, “with the highest activity levels in the states of California, Texas, Colorado, New York, Illinois, Florida and Virginia.”
White supremacist groups have been steadily posting recruitment fliers, brochures and business cards on campuses across the country, activity that edged up 9 percent last year. However, similar propaganda storms off-campus soared by 572 percent, indicating that these groups are targeting a broader pool than just young adults.
In 2018, the ADL recorded 319 incidents of white supremacist propaganda being posted or distributed on 212 college campuses in 37 states. Off-campus, there were 129 such incidents in 2017 and 868 in 2018, including banners hung on highway overpasses and fliers placed in library books.
“Even the declining Klan movement noticeably increased their propaganda efforts in 2018. In the past year, ADL’s COE counted 97 incidents in which Klan fliers were left on doorsteps or driveways in neighborhoods around the country, a 20% increase from their preceding four-year average of 77 annual incidents,” the ADL reported. “Though eleven different Klan groups took part in this activity, the majority (78) of the 97 incidents were attributed to the North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights (LWK), a Nazified Klan group best known for their vitriolic and often anti-Semitic propaganda.”
While propaganda operations increased, organized public events and attendance at such rallies decreased; attendance was robust, meanwhile, at private events such as conferences. “Flash” demonstrations intended to knock authorities and counter-protesters off-guard included the League of the South posing on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.