Abigail Jones, Newsweek, September 11, 2017
The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last month was the largest, most violent assembly of white supremacists in decades, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and now Identity Evropa, one of the most influential white supremacist groups operating in the U.S., has launched a yearlong campaign targeting college students with a sophisticated breed of racist fliers.
“Charlottesville emboldened and energized white supremacists,” says Marilyn Mayo, senior research fellow at the ADL’s Center on Extremism. “Even though they didn’t get to speak, they see it as a success on some level because they could bring together so many strains of the white supremacist movement. You had a lot of young people who went, and they’re going to double-down on their efforts to grow by reaching out to campuses.”
Since September 2016, the ADL has identified 192 incidents of white supremacist campus fliering on 131 college campuses, in 37 states. The inauguration of Donald Trump, a man elected president on a platform of hatred, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiments, marked a significant shift in this effort. From January to April 2016, there were nine incidents of white supremacist propaganda on U.S. campuses, but during that same four-month period in 2017, the ADL catalogued 115 incidents.
In January, American Renaissance, Jared Taylor’s white nationalist organization, launched a campaign involving racist posters that co-opted some of the most iconic images of the 20th century, including Rosie the Riveter (instead of “We can do it!” the poster read “Don’t apologize for being white!”)
“They’re no longer hiding behind images of statues,” Mayo says, “but showing people who are out there, in the streets, taking action.”
Another batch of Identity Evropa posters promotes books published by Arktos Media, a leading far-right publisher founded by Swedish businessman Daniel Friberg (he launched AltRight.com with Richard Spencer). It’s an academic approach that gives white supremacy not just an intellectual foundation, but a veneer of mainstream culture. As Mayo puts it: “Identity Evropa is trying to go further than just talking about preserving white identity, and wants students to read the works that fuel their ideology, giving them the ideological basis for their thinking.”
“[Identity Evropa’s] actions are extremely disruptive and unsettling to students,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO, said in a statement. “The message is explicitly racist and anti-Semitic. They know they’re going to get a reaction when they show up on campus.”
“They’ve been able to attract young people — who’ve never been part of the movement before!” says Mayo, who believes Identity Evropa’s success on campus will be limited. “It’s of concern, because for a movement to grow, you have to have young people willing to take the message out there into the world. They are taking advantage of all the publicity and efforts coming out of Charlottesville and using that to move ahead.”