Colin P. Clarke has been teaching a course on terrorism and insurgency at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for four years, and much more of his class these days is devoted to white supremacy than in the past, USA Today reports.
So Clarke was not one bit surprised when a new report by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism revealed that efforts to spread white supremacy propaganda – often through discriminatory fliers, banners and posters – more than doubled from 2018 to last year.
Moreover, the university is located just a short walk from the Tree of Life synagogue, and Clarke has seen up close the consequences of hateful words turning into violent action.
“It’s concerning because, for all the people who don’t move on to become threats of violence, some will, and some will get their start by seeing pieces of propaganda that will alert them to the fact this group exists,’’ Clarke said.
The ADL report represents a sobering warning about the reach of white supremacist groups, which can take advantage of the efficiency and anonymity provided by social media to disseminate their ideology with little fear of backlash.
Last year the ADL recorded its highest number of propaganda incidents ever with 2,713 cases, compared to 1,214 in 2018. College campuses, full of impressionable young minds open to new ideas, are a favorite target, receiving about one-fourth of the propaganda against minority groups like immigrants, blacks, Jews, Muslims and members of the LGBTQ community.
The report also said all states except Hawaii registered instances of this kind of messaging, which is often cloaked in patriotic themes and serves as a recruiting tool. In addition, the ADL said the use of announced white supremacist rallies has given way to flash demonstrations, which are less likely to draw counter-protests and negative media coverage.