ADL’s Center on Extremism tracked an ever-growing number of white supremacist propaganda efforts in 2019, including the distribution of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ fliers, stickers, banners and posters. The 2019 data shows an increase of incidents both on and off campus, with a total of 2,713 cases reported (averaging more than seven incidents per day), compared to 1,214 in 2018 – a doubling in activity year over year. This is the highest number of propaganda incidents ADL has ever recorded.
Propaganda allows white supremacists 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 barrage of propaganda, which overwhelmingly features veiled white supremacist language with a patriotic slant, is an effort to normalize white supremacists’ message and bolster recruitment efforts while targeting minority groups including Jews, Blacks, Muslims, non-white immigrants and the LGBTQ community.
The 2019 propaganda touched every state except Hawaii, with the highest levels of activity in the states of California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Washington and Florida. ADL’s H.E.A.T. Map provides a visual representation of the propaganda distribution efforts by geographic location and highlights other specific trends.
Campuses remain a target
Although white supremacists have always leafleted U.S. campuses, their campaign targeting college students ramped up in January 2016 and has continued since then. More than four years later, their on-campus propaganda efforts are still on the rise.
Approximately one-fourth (630) of the total (2,711) white supremacist propaganda incidents in 2019 took place on campus – nearly double the 320 campus incidents counted in 2018. The 2019 propaganda efforts targeted 433 different campuses in 43 states and the District of Columbia. An overwhelming majority of the campuses (90 percent) were targeted only once or twice, which suggests that despite their increased efforts, white supremacists seem to have failed to gain a sustained foothold on campus.