White supremacists on college campuses: The ADL says hateful rhetoric is surging

Members of Identity Evropa disrupt a pro-immigration forum at Miami Dade College-Kendall Campus in Florida on August 2017

A report issued yesterday by the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism documented 346 instances in which propaganda with a white supremacist agenda have been distributed on US campuses over the past 12 months.

The ADP in a report past year that anti-Semitic activity across the USA had surged by about 67 percent over 2016, including a "significant increase" the group said it spotted following the August 12, 2017, "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where participants including neo-Nazis and white supremacists clashed with counterprotesters amid chaos authorities ultimately linked to three deaths.

There were 41 reported incidents of racist propaganda found in college campuses in 2016, and by 2017, the number surged to 147.

ADL's CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said that the fact white supremacists are spreading across campuses all around the country should make us question if freedom of speech should be supported at all times. These incidents targeted 216 college campuses – from Ivy League schools to local community colleges – in 44 states and Washington DC.

The group responsible for 158 of the 346 incidents, according to the report, is called Identity Evropa and calls for the preservation of "white American culture", while avoiding often-used white supremacist and Nazi-inspired images and language.

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These white supremacist groups want a reaction and "troll campuses", Oren Segal, director of the ADL's Center on Extremism, told BuzzFeed News. Vanguard America vandalised a Black History Month poster at Middle Tennessee University with its own propaganda. Texas and California were the hardest-hit states, with 61 and 43 incidents recorded on their campuses, respectively. Those states are home to the most concentrated and active membership for IE and Patriot Front, the groups that most frequently employ this tactic, ADL said.

White supremacist campus activism extends beyond posters and includes requests by speakers such as Richard Spencer to appear on campus, the organization said. Since the 2016 presidential campaign they have been stepping out of the shadows into the mainstream, ADL noted.

He gave speeches at Texas A&M University, the University of Florida and Auburn University, each of which provoked large counter protests.

Ohio's college campuses rank sixth in the nation for incidents involving white supremacists, according to data released Thursday by the Anti-Dafamation League.

"Institutions have to contend with legal requirements, practical considerations and moral obligations, and they will respond differently depending on the incident", Hartle said.

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