Recently released reports from a pair of prominent nonprofit organizations reveal the increased targeting of student spaces by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and the violence these ideologies entail, according to The Intercept .
The Anti-Defamation League reported that incidents of white supremacist propaganda on U.S. campuses more than tripled in 2017. Groups doubling down on campus propagandizing include explicit neo-Nazis like the Florida-based Atomwaffen Division, as well as associations like Identity Evropa, known for couching its unabashed racist message in thinly veiled panegyrics to protecting Western culture and posters bearing Michelangelo’s David.
“The ‘alt-right’ is a movement of mostly young white males,” Carla Hill, senior researcher for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told me. “They realize that for any movement to truly grow, they must reach young minds, and this segment of the white supremacist movement has been focused on doing that.”
The potential gravity of this surge was then underlined by a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, titled simply, “The Alt-Right Is Killing People.” More than 100 people have been killed or injured since 2014 by perpetrators believed to be influenced by the racism and misogyny that defines the so-called alt-right, the center found. More than 60 people were killed or injured in “alt-right” violence last year alone.
The reports draw no direct link between the rise in white supremacist propaganda and the spike in white supremacist murders. But together, they make clear that the threat of “alt-right” influence on young people, above all young white men, is anything but academic: Racist ideology is never free of violence, and neither is it in the case of the cosplaying, Nazi-adjacent trolls of the “alt-right.”
The Anti-Defamation League reported separately in November that white supremacists and other far-right extremists were responsible for 59 percent of all extremist-related fatalities in the U.S. in 2017, up from 20 percent in 2016. While it’s too soon for much dispositive social science on the link, it’s difficult to consider all this data outside of the Trump era in American politics.
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