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White Supremacists Recruiting On College Campuses Has Hit ‘Unprecedented’ Levels

One group accounts for nearly half the incidents.

Image by Brittany Pettibone/YouTube.

The chilling images of scowling white men marching with tiki torches were permanently etched in the nation’s psyche last August. The gathering of white supremacists on the University of Virginia campus that night would escalate to a weekend of tragedy.


For years, white supremacists have remained on the fringe of society and covered their faces in public. But studies show that Donald Trump has emboldened white supremacists by escalating their ideas to the mainstream.

Photo by Fibonacci Blue/Wikimedia Commons.

A new study published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that the rally on the University of Virginia campus may have been a harbinger for things to come. According to the ADL, there have been a reported 346 incidents in white supremacist propaganda (flyers, banners, posters, or stickers) on college campuses between 2016 and 2017. There were 41 reported incidents of racist propaganda found in college campuses in 2016, and by 2017, the number surged to 147.

“White supremacists are targeting college campuses like never before,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL CEO, said in a statement. “They see campuses as a fertile recruiting ground, as evident by the unprecedented volume of propagandist activity designed to recruit young people to support their vile ideology.”

The propaganda often casts white people as a group in peril and attacks minority groups, including: Jews, Muslims, people of color, and non-white immigrants. “It may promote a white supremacist group, or trumpet the urgent need to ‘save’ the white race,” the report stated.

The largest distributor of white supremacist propaganda is a group known as Identity Evropa. This group accounted for 158 of all propaganda incidents reported by the ADL. The group identifies itself as “a fraternal organization for people of European heritage located in the United States that participates in community building and civic engagement.”

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The ADL categorizes Identity Evropa as a “white supremacist group focused on the preservation of ‘white American culture’ and promoting white European identity.” According to the ADL, the group’s motto is, “You will not replace us,” and “reflects its belief that unless immediate action is taken, the white race is doomed to extinction by an alleged ‘rising tide of color’ purportedly controlled and manipulated by Jews.”

Lee Pelton, the first black president of Emerson College, is worried about the rise in white supremacist activities on campus, but believes it gives students the opportunity to stand up for their values. “We tried not to overreact while making clear that we will not be intimidated by these groups, that we will stand together as a community no matter our political affiliations, whether one is a Republican, or Democrat, or Libertarian, or independent, and that all of us want to denounce these hateful acts,” he told NPR.

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