White Supremacist Propaganda Nearly Doubles, Fueled by Election and Pandemic-Report

The amount of white supremacist propaganda which was distributed across the country in 2020 nearly doubled compared to the previous year as the far-right took advantage of the election year and the coronavirus pandemic to spread their racist views.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there was a total 5,125 cases of racist, anti-Semitic and other hateful messages reported by them last year, the highest number since the organization started recording such incidents 14 years ago and nearly twice the 2,724 reported cases in 2019.

The ADL notes that the number of white supremacist propaganda incidents, including the appearance of racist fliers and banners being flown from public places, occurred at the equivalent of 14 times a day.

The data reveals that white supremacist propaganda appeared in every state except Hawaii, with the highest levels of activity in Texas (574), Washington (345) , California (333), New Jersey (323), and New York (308).

"The election year, the pandemic and other factors may have provided white supremacists with additional motivation to spread their hatred across the country," the report states.

"Propaganda gives white supremacists the ability to maximize media and online attention, while limiting the risk of individual exposure, negative media coverage, arrests and public backlash that often accompanies more public events."

The ADL reports that at least 30 white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups were responsible for distributing propaganda in 2020.

However, three of these groups—Patriot Front, New Jersey European Heritage Association and Nationalist Social Club—were responsible for 92 percent of the activity, with the Texas-based Patriot Front responsible for 80 percent (4,105) of all propaganda incidents in the U.S.

Patriot Front is a white nationalist hate group that formed in the aftermath of the deadly "Unite the Right" neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

They are described as an "image-obsessed organization" who rehabilitated the "explicitly fascist agenda" of Vanguard America with extremist patriotism by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The ADL notes that Patriot Front avoids traditional white supremacist language in their propaganda, and instead uses "patriotic" and ambiguous phrases such as "America First," "United we stand," "Two Parties. One Tyranny," and "Not Stolen. Conquered."

Patriot Front stickers were found distributed at nearby university campuses in Kentucky and Ohio earlier this year. The extremist material contained such as "America is not for sale," "Conquered, not stolen," "Reclaim America" and "Better dead than red."

While far-right groups are using "veiled white supremacist language with a patriotic
slant" to bolster recruitment, many others are still openly spouting racist and anti-Semitic phrases targeting minority groups.

The New Jersey European Heritage Association, who was responsible for around 10 percent (508) of the propaganda incidents in 2020, often distributes explicitly white supremacist messages targeting Jewish people, Black people and non-white immigrants.

These messages recorded by the ADL include: "Antifa is a Jewish communist militia," "Black Crimes Matter" and "Reject White Guilt," as well as conspiracy theories about the coronavirus.

Other distributed propaganda from New Jersey European Heritage Association includes messages reading "America is under occupation," with the text overlaying a Star of David.

In total, the ADL recorded 283 incidents that included anti-Semitic language or targeted Jewish institutions in 2020, a 68 percent increase from the number of anti-Semitic propaganda distributions recorded in 2019.

Elsewhere, there were at least 130 incidents of white supremacist banner drops, many of them being displayed from highway overpasses, nearly three times the 53 incidents that occurred in 2019.

The ADL said Patriot Front was responsible for at least 98 incidents of banner drops last year, unfurling banners to read messages such as "Better Dead Than Red" and "Reclaim America."

There were also 303 incidents of white supremacist propaganda distribution on college campuses, a significant decline from 630 in 2019. The ADL said that the lack of students on campus in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic meant many groups were not focusing on recruitment on campuses compared to the 2019.

"White supremacists dropped more hate propaganda across the U.S. in 2020 than in any of the past four years and such activity is at now historic levels," Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO, told Newsweek.

"In the era of social media, white supremacists plan and amplify their campaigns online, but they still rely on old fashioned tactics to spread their messages of hate, which can range from chest-thumping nationalism to outright bigotry."

Oren Segal, Vice President of ADL's Center on Extremism, added: "Propaganda gives white supremacists the ability to maximize media and online attention while limiting their risk of exposure or arrest.

"The literature helps to bolster recruitment efforts and spreads fear by targeting specific groups, including the Jewish, Black, Muslim and LGBTQ+ communities, as well as non-white immigrants."

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(File photo) Members of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) and other white nationalists march toward the entrance to Greenville Street Park in Newnan, Georgia on April 21, 2018. The ADL said there were a total of 5,125 cases white supremacist propaganda incidents in 2020, nearly double that of 2019. BITA HONARVAR/AFP/Getty Images