Hate groups stepped up their recruitment efforts last year, apparently emboldened by the racist environment that President Donald Trump has promoted, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
White supremacy propaganda increased by 182 percent in 2018 compared to the year before, the report found.
“The propaganda, which includes everything from veiled white supremacist language to explicitly racist images and words, often features a recruitment element, and frequently targets minority groups, including Jews, Blacks, Muslims, non-white immigrants and the LGBTQ community,” the anti-hate organization said.
ADL noted that the multitude of hate groups across the nation used a new strategy last year. They increased their distribution of leaflets and posters that also used subtle language to recruit and promote their hate. It was part of their overall strategy to avoid showing their faces in public. In 2017, anti-hate groups confronted them at college campus recruitment efforts.
It’s also important to note that the skyrocketing numbers represented a major increase in off-campus recruitment, which increased 572 percent compared to just 9 percent on campus.
The Ku Klux Klan, which has long distributed recruitment flyers, had a noticeable 20 percent increase in its propaganda efforts in 2018, the study found.
Given Trump’s long racist history, there’s no surprise that white supremacists quickly embraced him early in his presidential campaign. Trump launched with a speech in which he described Mexicans who entered the United States illegally as criminals and rapists. His racially divisive rhetoric continued into his presidency.
One of his lowest moments came in the aftermath of the 2017 violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump defended the white nationalists as “very fine people.” It was a watershed moment in Trump legitimizing White supremacist groups. David Duke, the former KKK leader, thanked Trump for blaming the “alt-left” for the violence in Charlottesville.
Trump has continued to inspire racists. In February, federal agents arrested Christopher Paul Hasson, a white supremacist Coast Guard officer, who stockpiled illegal drugs and weapons in his home. Authorities said he planned to commit acts of mass terrorism. Investigators said he conducted online searches that included “what if trump illegally impeached” and “civil war if trump impeached” after searching computer files at his suburban Maryland home.