White Supremacist Propaganda Spreading on U.S. College Campuses, ADL Says

In a report published Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League called the reported growth of white supremacist propaganda 'alarming'

Image from Twitter of a poster promoting the white supremacist group American Vanguard found at Emerson College in Boston
Screen shot / Twitter

White supremacist propaganda on American college campuses has seen a dramatic increase since the fall of 2016, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

In a report published Thursday, the ADL called the reported growth “alarming.” ADL’s Center on Extremism recorded 346 incidents in which white supremacists have used fliers, stickers, banners and posters to spread their message since Sept. 1, 2016, the report said.

The incidents were recorded on 216 college campuses in 44 states and Washington, D.C.

During the fall semester of 2017 (Sept. 1 through Dec. 31), a total of 147 incidents involved what ADL considers white supremacist propaganda on campuses — a 250 percent leap over the corresponding period in 2016, when ADL recorded 41 such cases.

“White supremacists are targeting college campuses like never before,” ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt 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.”

Among the most active white nationalist groups identified is the Identity Evropa, which accounted for 158 of the 346 incidents recorded by ADL. Other prominent groups included the Patriot Front and Vanguard America.

Campuses in Texas and California saw the most incidents recorded last fall at 61 and 43, respectively.

Richard Spencer, a 39-year-old Boston native that has toured U.S. college campuses to promote white nationalist ideals, emerged as one of the most frequently featured figures in campus white supremacist propaganda, ADL said.

Spencer is scheduled to speak at Michigan State University in March and is attempting to hold an event at Kent State University on May 4, the 48th anniversary of the murder of four students by National Guardsmen.

“While campuses must respect and protect free speech, administrators must also address the need to counter hate groups’ messages and show these bigoted beliefs belong in the darkest shadows, not in our bright halls of learning,” Greenblatt said.

ADL recommended in its report educating faculty and students on the First Amendment and improving training for campus officials on responding to hate crimes.