ADL: White Supremacist Propaganda Reached All-Time High in 2020

Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston

A new report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) shows white supremacist propaganda reached an all-time high in 2020, with a total of 5,125 cases – an average of 14 incidents per day. The ADL found at least 30 known white supremacist groups behind the propaganda activity, distributing a mix of racist, antisemitic, and anti-LGBTQ fliers, stickers, posters, and banners.

“Hate propaganda is a tried-and-true tactic for white supremacists, and this on the ground activity is now higher than we’ve ever previously recorded,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “White supremacists are emboldened more than ever, and the election year, the pandemic and other factors may have provided these haters with additional encouragement.”

The report comes just after a string of deadly shootings at three Asian spas in Atlanta, GA, which resulted in eight deaths. The suspect, a white man named Robert Aaron Long, has taken responsibility for the shootings. In the wake of the horrific incident, Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office initially tried to excuse Long’s behavior, saying that Long had “a really bad day.” Hours later, however, Facebook posts from Baker’s account surfaced referring to COVID-19 as being “imported from CHY-NA,” a mimic of former President Donald Trump’s repeated references to the deadly pandemic as the “China virus.”

On Tuesday, reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate noted that from March 19, 2020, to Feb 28, 2021, nearly 3,800 anti-Asian incidents were reported, with women making up 68 percent of the reports. There have already been 503 incidents in 2021 so far, with verbal harassment being the most common type of discrimination.

“I think there are separate trends, the violence that we’re seeing now and the racism we saw last year, but they are related,” said Russell Jeung, Stop AAPI Hate founder and professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University. “We’re really careful to note that this violence against Asian Americans in high-crime neighborhoods has always been high. So the combination of both the racism from last year and crimes against Asian elderly are now significant enough to get national attention.”

According to the ADL H.E.A.T map, there were 35 racial incidents in Louisiana in 2020, including 27 incidents of white supremacist propaganda and nine antisemitic incidents. Three of those propaganda incidents and six of the antisemitic incidents occurred in New Orleans. In addition, Big Easy Magazine reported on several racially-motivated incidents in 2020, including allegations of a “Whites Only” swimming club in Vacherie, LA, and a racist email containing anti-Asian racial slurs sent out by Puccino’s.

“Propaganda gives white supremacists the ability to maximize media and online attention while limiting their risk of exposure or arrest,” said ADL Center on Extremism VP Oren Segal. “The literature helps to bolster recruitment efforts and spreads fear by targeting specific groups, including Jews, Blacks, Muslims, non-white immigrants, and the LGBTQ community.”

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