Colin P. Clarke has been teaching a terrorism and insurgency course at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for four years, and nowadays, much more is devoted to his class of white domination than in the past.
So Clarke was not a bit surprised when a new report by the Center for Extremism of the Anti-Defamation League revealed that efforts to spread white domination propaganda – often through discriminatory leaflets, banners, and posters – increased from 2018 to last year than have doubled.
The university is also a short walk from the Tree of Life Synagogue, and Clarke has seen the consequences of hateful words that turn into violent acts up close.
“It is worrying because for everyone who does not become a threat of violence, some and some will start seeing propaganda pieces that alert them to the fact that this group exists,” Clarke said.
The ADL report is a sobering warning of the reach of white supremacist groups who can use the efficiency and anonymity of social media to spread their ideology with little fear of backlash.
Last year, with 2,713 cases, the ADL had the highest number of propaganda incidents of all time, compared to 1,214 in 2018. University campuses full of impressive young minds who are open to new ideas are a popular destination and receive around a quarter of the propaganda against minority groups such as immigrants, blacks, Jews, Muslims and members of the LGBTQ community.
The report also states that all states, except Hawaii, have registered instances of this type of news, which are often wrapped in patriotic issues and serve as a recruiting tool. In addition, the ADL said the use of the announced Supremacist rallies has given way to flash demonstrations that are less likely to result in counter-protests and negative media coverage.
John Cohen, former counter-terrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland Security and now associate professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies, said white supremacists had become more sophisticated in their communications.
“You renamed yourself,” said Cohen. “In the past, they were viewed as racist individuals who were marginalized or outside of mainstream society. Now their thoughts, ideas and messages have been incorporated into the mainstream political discourse by a growing number of elected officials. “
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While stressing that he would not select either party, Cohen warned of the danger of normalization of the white supremacist ideology.
Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, President Donald Trump frequently scolded the caravans of migrants from Central America who came to the United States to apply for asylum.
On October 27 of this year, 10 days before the election, the accused gunman Robert Bowers broke into the Tree of Life synagogue and killed 11 people in a killing spree. In anti-Semitic online comments, Bowers had accused Jews of helping caravans from “invaders who kill our people”.
Less than a year later, on August 3, 2019, a gunman who released a hateful manifesto decoding a “Hispanic Texas invasion” shot 22 people in an El Paso Walmart. Another 24 people were injured in the attack, allegedly by 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, whose screed warned that foreigners in the United States would replace white people.
Cohen said political leaders are playing with fire in promoting white, supremacist topics, such as exaggerated claims of immigrants’ security threats and allegedly using public resources to fuel their supporters.
“By using these ideological beliefs to inspire their political base, they have also inspired dissatisfied, violent people to attack,” said Cohen. “This is one of the reasons why the number of acts of terrorism in the country is increasing.”
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Equating immigration with an “invasion,” as Bowers and Crusius did, was a common tactic in Trump’s campaign. According to studies by Media Matters, more than 2,000 ads with this term were displayed on its Facebook page in January and February 2019 alone.
The President is far from the only elected leader who does this analogy, but his voice is the most distant.
“If you have the person with the largest megaphone not only in the country but in the world who uses this language, doesn’t that offer protection to other people to use it?” Said Clarke, who is also a senior research associate The is Soufan Center, a non-profit organization that focuses on global security issues.
Both Cohen and Clarke say that educating the public is vital to counter white supremacist propaganda, especially to publicize the means of these groups, such as the radicalization of teenagers online through news stories in gaming Community to be spread.
In a report on the rise of transnational extremism among white supremacists, the Soufan Center is calling on the United States to pass tough laws to combat domestic terrorism.
The development of Clarke’s class suggests that it is time to look beyond Al Qaeda and the Islamic State as the main sources of terrorism to worry about. He said that the more insidious approach of white supremacist groups is a greater danger in the long run and needs to be recognized.
“Nobody hesitates to put a terror label on any type of act that is done by someone who looks brown. Part of that is undoubtedly the 9/11 effect, “said Clarke.” But the other part of it is the fact that people still haven’t woken up to the idea that violent white supremacy for this country is as much if not not is even more of a threat than Salafi jihadism. “
This article originally appeared TODAY in the United States: White supremacist ideas penetrate the mainstream and lead to violence