Incidents of white supremacist propaganda distributed across the nation jumped by more than 120% between 2018 and last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League, making 2019 the second straight year that the circulation of propaganda material has more than doubled, The Associated Press reported.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reported 2,713 cases of circulated propaganda by white supremacist groups, including fliers, posters and banners, compared with 1,214 cases in 2018. The printed propaganda distributed by white supremacist organizations includes material that directly spreads messages of discrimination against Jews, LGBTQ people and other minority communities — but also items with their prejudice obscured by a focus on gauzier pro-America imagery.
The sharp rise in cases of white supremacist propaganda distribution last year follows a jump of more than 180% between 2017, the first year that the Anti-Defamation League tracked material distribution, and 2018. While 2019 saw cases of propaganda circulated on college campuses nearly double, encompassing 433 separate campuses in all but seven states, researchers who compiled the data found that 90% of campuses only saw one or two rounds of distribution, AP adds.
Oren Segal, director of the League’s Center on Extremism, pointed to the prominence of more subtly biased rhetoric in some of the white supremacist material, emphasizing “patriotism”, as a sign that the groups are attempting “to make their hate more palatable for a 2020 audience”.
By emphasizing language “about empowerment, without some of the blatant racism and hatred,” Segal said, white supremacists are employing “a tactic to try to get eyes onto their ideas in a way that’s cheap, and that brings it to a new generation of people who are learning how to even make sense out of these messages.”
The propaganda incidents tracked for the Anti-Defamation League’s report, set for release on Wednesday, encompass 49 states and occurred most often in 10 states: California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Washington and Florida.
Last year’s soaring cases of distributed propaganda also came as the Anti-Defamation League found white supremacist groups holding 20% fewer events than in 2018, “preferring not to risk the exposure of pre-publicized events,” according to its report. That marks a shift from the notably visible public presence that white supremacist organizations mounted in 2017, culminating in that summer’s Charlottesville, Va., rally where a self-described white supremacist drove into a crowd of counterprotesters.