September 22, 2018

Report: White Supremacist Activity Up 77% On College Campuses

Screenshot from Twitter.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has issued a new report stating that white supremacist activity has increased on college campuses by 77% over the past year.

According to the report, the ADL determined that there were 292 instances of white supremacist activity on universities in the 2017-18 academic year; there were 165 such instances in the prior academic year.

The white supremacist activity largely involved fliers on campus from various alt-right, neo-Nazi groups like Identity Evropa and National Socialist Legion (NSL) spreading white supremacist propaganda that includes “veiled white supremacist language to explicitly racist images and words, often includes a recruitment element, and frequently attacks minority groups including Jews, Blacks, Muslims, non-white immigrants and the LGBT community.”

Some recent examples of white supremacist activity on campus highlighted in the report included three attendees from a 2017 University of Florida speaking event for neo-Nazi Richard Spencer yelling “Heil Hitler!” as they drove by a bus stop; one of them proceeded to fire a gun in an ensuing altercation. Two of the attendees are now facing charges over the incident.

Another example included eight people posting white supremacist fliers on Texas State University’s campus; the people involved were not students and are facing trespassing charges.

“College campuses and their communities should be places for learning, growing and the future, not close-minded racism and hate-filled rhetoric from the past,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We’re concerned to see that white supremacists are accelerating their efforts to target schools with propaganda in hopes of recruiting young people to support their bigoted worldview.”

Greenblatt added, “It’s always important for university administrators to respect and protect free speech, but it’s equally vital that they take the necessary steps to counter the hateful messages of these group. These steps can include educating faculty and students on the parameters of their First Amendment rights, and also improving training for campus officials charged with responding to bias incidents and hate crimes.”

Read the full report here.

Joanna Mendelson: ADL’s White Supremacy Watchdog

Joanna Mendelson is the senior investigative researcher and director of special projects for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. In her 17th year with the ADL, she provides expertise, analysis and training that enable law enforcement, public officials and community leaders to identify and counter emerging extremist threats.

JJ: What is the likelihood that the fast-expanding white supremacist movement will be stemmed in the near term?

Joanna Mendelson: Parts of the white supremacist movement — notably the alt right—are rapidly expanding. We should take comfort in the fact other segments are not doing so well. Traditional white supremacists, such as Ku Klux Klan groups, have been declining for years. More recently, racist skinheads have been stagnant, perhaps starting to decline.

JJ: What has changed in America in the past 20 years to make these onetime outcasts visible and almost acceptable?

JM: Although it is difficult to measure secretive extremist movements, white supremacists, as in recent decades, have been nowhere near as numerous — or as accepted — as they were during the civil rights movement or before it. What has changed: Largely due to the internet, white supremacists are more connected to each other and more visible. Online propaganda can help radicalize individuals.

“White supremacists, as in recent decades, have been nowhere near as numerous — or as accepted — as they were during the civil rights movement or before it.” — Joanna Mendelson

JJ: When there is a mass killing, some authorities say don’t publicize the names. Would white supremacists retreat if their marches were not covered?

JM: No doubt white supremacists try to take advantage of any media sunshine that can magnify their cause and real-world actions. Many things extremists do are newsworthy. The community needs to be informed to respond appropriately. Coverage must be a delicate balance between arming us with information but not giving them a greater platform to preach hate.

JJ: What is the main cause of white supremacy?

JM: There is no one cause. There are a lot of paths to radicalization. We find common themes of perceived alienation, victimization and scapegoating of others for sundry woes. They perceive themselves as minorities, creating an “us vs. them” paradigm. Others want to belong to something. Some are brought into the movement by more dominant personalities.

JJ: Do they require funding?

JM: White supremacists have costs associated with purveying hate — equipment (official uniforms or accessories, including tattoos, clothing, paraphernalia and weaponry); event organization and travel; internet and print propaganda expenses; merchandise purchasing; legal defense; and even staff/labor costs.

JJ: Who are the people financially supporting them?

JM: The white supremacist movement is poorly funded. A general assumption, fueled by rumors, holds that white supremacists raise a substantial amount from the Russian government, conservative foundations or secretive benefactors. This rarely happens. White supremacists scrape together a small amount from people already in the movement.

One very rare current wealthy donor is William H. Regnery II, a member of the well-known conservative publishing family. He developed extreme right and white supremacist views by the 1990s.

JJ: What kind of women are drawn to the white supremacy movement?

JM: The “14 Words” is a reference to the most popular white supremacist slogan, signifying “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Women are a significant part of the equation in their role to help procure future generations of white people.

JJ: Would the white supremacists of the old days recognize latter-day supremacists?

JM: Prior to and during the civil rights movement, most white supremacists would say they stood for preserving the dominance of the white race in America. After losing the war to deny civil rights to minorities, their ideology has evolved. They claim they are fighting for the very survival of the white race, fighting against a “rising tide of color” controlled and manipulated by Jews.

More recently, white supremacists try to cloak ideology in terms more palatable to a modern audience, “culture” for “race,” “western civilization” for identity.

JJ: What drew you to this field?

JM: I was always drawn to social justice work. My family traditions were deeply steeped in values of social equity, healing and righteousness. My zayde, who passed away recently, epitomized a life of virtue and goodness. He believed in the decency of people. In this vein, I persevere, to shine a light on darkness.

News Reports Link Suspected Bernstein Killer to Neo-Nazi Groups

Screenshot from Twitter.

The man suspected of killing 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein in Orange County earlier this month is alleged to have had connections to a neo-Nazi organization connected to other slayings.

According to ProPublica, three people who know the suspect, 20-year-old Samuel Woodward of Newport Beach, have said that he used to be involved with Atomwaffen Division (AWD), a neo-Nazi group that started in 2016 and celebrates Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson. AWD members are required to read the writings of James Mason, the former American Nazi Party member who founded the Universal Order movement based on Manson’s fanatical ideas, The Times of Israel reported.

Woodward was scheduled for arraignment on Feb. 2 and, as of the Journal’s press deadline, prosecutors reportedly were still deciding whether to charge him with a hate crime.

AWD’s propaganda campaign includes disseminating posters that openly call for violence against minorities and promoting its reasons for a race war. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of AWD’s posters shows a man being hanged under a sign that reads, “FOLLOW YOUR FELLOW FAGGOTS”; another depicts the American flag with a Star of David burning under a swastika and reads, “A NEW ORDER WILL RISE FROM THE ASHES OF THE KIKE SYSTEM.” The ADL counted eight instances of AWD members posting flyers on college campuses. One such flyer read, “Where will you be when the race war begins? When the world burns?”

AWD has posted propaganda videos that feature members dressed in camouflage with skull-like bandanas tied across the bottom of their faces, shouting, “Gas the kikes! Race war now!” while they fire guns.

The self-described “armed fascist organization” holds what it calls a “hate camp,” where it inculcates its members with military-type training and exercises. Its name, “Atomwaffen,” translates to “nuclear weapons” and its endgame is to overthrow “the U.S. government through the use of terrorism and guerrilla warfare,” according to ProPublica.

AWD has been connected to numerous murders and terror plots. The ProPublica report points to one of AWD’s founding members, Devon Arthurs, murdering two of his roommates who were “Atomwaffen loyalists” after Arthurs converted to radical Islam. The report also notes that another of Arthurs’ roommates had collected explosives to use on a Miami nuclear power plant and highlights an instance in Virginia where an AWD supporter allegedly murdered his girlfriend’s parents before killing himself.

The neo-Nazi organization’s website states that recruits are being taken on an invitation-only basis, and no recruits are being sought at this time.

ProPublica reporter Jake Hanrahan tweeted some evidence that Woodward was connected to AWD, including Woodward’s description of himself as an “NS” (National Socialist), and the fact that one of Woodward’s accounts on the Kik messaging app featured AWD’s nuclear sign. Hanrahan also tweeted a list of books that Woodward purportedly said “shaped my political philosophy.” The list included books such as Markus Willinger’s “Generation Identity,” the ideological basis for the Identitarian movement that alt-right figures such as Richard Spencer subscribe to; and Savitri Devi’s “The Lightning and the Sun,” which argues that Hitler’s genocidal and tyrannical actions were necessary to bring forth a new “golden age.” Devi herself was “one of Hitler’s most devoted admirers,” according to Amazon.com’s description of the book.

On his book list, Woodward drew an arrow pointing at Devi’s book and wrote, “Literally the most insane —-ing book in the history of politics or literature lmao.”

Hanrahan also tweeted photos he alleged were of Woodward participating in AWD’s training exercises.

Hanrahan added in his tweets that Woodward eventually exited the AWD because he viewed its members as “posers,” although Hanrahan could not confirm that statement. Hanrahan said Woodward then joined another neo-Nazi organization through the fascist website IronMarch.org, which is no longer operating.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported there is a photo of Woodward pretending to smash someone’s skull with his foot, a reenactment of the 1998 film “American History X” that focuses on a neo-Nazi.

“Whilst it’s not proof of motive in the killing of Blaze Bernstein, I dare say it’s worth looking at considering Blaze was a gay Jewish man,” Hanrahan tweeted.

Bernstein and Woodward met at the Orange County School of Arts. The two reportedly went to Borrego Park on Jan. 2, the night Bernstein went missing. His body was found a week later with more than 20 stab wounds. According to the Orange County Register, “Woodward told investigators” — with a clenched jaw and fists — “that Bernstein kissed him on the lips, and that he pushed Bernstein away.”

CBS Los Angeles reported that Woodward was arrested after authorities discovered DNA evidence that connected Woodward to the murder.

White Supremacist Hate Crimes on the Rise in LA – Is There Any Defense?

According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, white supremacist hate crimes in LA rose by 67 percent last year. That, alone, is cause for concern but what happens when a Hispanic attorney is asked to defend a hate crime against an illegal (or legal) Mexican or a Jewish lawyer is asked to defend a hate crime against a Jew? How are First Amendment freedom of speech and hate crimes differentiated and are attorneys legally obligated to take those kinds of cases? There is a long history of hate crimes around the world and as a result, the United States has clearly defined what constitutes a crime and what constitutes hateful speech.

The Difference between Free Speech and Hate Crimes

 

While some people may find that there is no difference between hateful speech and a hate crime, the law is quite clear in most cases. The problem may be getting a jury to see the difference. First amendment rights only make it legal to say something without intention to act. That’s the simplest way to say it. For example, if someone says, “You are the scum of the earth because you are Mexican.” Or, if they say, “Germans had a right to hate the Jews in WWII. Jews are greedy and should never have been allowed to own businesses in Nazi Germany.”

Those are clearly just hateful statements. There is no intent implicit in those statements to do harm to Mexicans or Jews. However, had either of those statements gone even a bit further, they might fall within a grey area. If the statement ended with something like, “They should all die,” a jury just might construe that as intent to act. That one could go either way. But, if they said “I would like to stick them in the back with a knife,” or “Run their kids out of town.” Those are clearly statements of intent and, if found guilty, could face serious jail time.

Is a Lawyer Bound to Defend White Supremacist Hate Crimes?

 

Here is another matter which most people don’t quite understand. For the most part, no, an attorney doesn’t have to represent anyone unless their bias is discriminatory. However, hiring a criminal defense attorney typically means you will get an unbiased attorney who believes you are innocent until proven guilty, whether or not they know you are. They believe in our constitution, the very one they are trained to uphold and defend in a court of law, whether or not they feel the accused is guilty.

A good criminal defense attorney will not stoop to the level of those guilty of hateful speech or even white supremacist hate crimes. Because of the way in which our laws are set up, everyone has the right to legal counsel. Yes, it is still up to the Jewish lawyer whether or not he wants to take the case of a man who tried to burn down the local synagogue and the black lawyer can choose not to take a racially biased hate crime against a black person. But, a good defense attorney will typically follow a better level of ethics.

Conclusion: More Specialists in Hate Crimes Will Be Needed in the Coming Year

 

Our constitution says that you re innocent until proven guilty before a jury of your peers. If you are accused of a hate crime, find a defense attorney who believes in your rights. Whether or not you are guilty is another matter altogether. The rise in White Supremacist crimes in LA will now see a surge in criminal defense lawyers specializing in hate crimes. That is the logical conclusion here. It will be interesting to follow the 2017 statistics in 2018 to see if this prediction holds true.

White supremacy is our country’s original sin

A white supremacists carries the Confederate flag as he arrives for a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/REUTERS.

What happened in Charlottesville this past weekend is devastating, but not surprising. Over the past three years, white supremacists have been invited back to the streets, to the airwaves, into the White House.

White supremacy is our country’s original sin. The legacy of slavery, the genocide of Native Americans and the exploitation of immigrants remain unresolved and largely unacknowledged. But in my lifetime, over the past 40 years, while racism festered in the back rooms, behind bars in the prison industrial complex, in discriminatory hiring practices, in segregated schools and neighborhoods and among internet trolls, it was generally sanitized in public discourse.

And then a presidential candidate launched his campaign with an unconscionable attack on Mexican Americans, a verbal assault that should have marked the end of his public career. Instead, it was only the beginning. Attacks against Muslims, Blacks and immigrants followed, along with a refusal to disavow endorsements from known anti-Semites and white nationalists (“I don’t know anything about David Duke. I don’t know what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacist. I don’t know. I don’t know…”). Good people whispered their discomfort and went along for the ride. Cast votes ignoring what was clear as day, willfully ignored, justified and excused. Clergy were scolded when they entered the fray: let’s not get too political! Journalists faced full frontal attack for pointing out what was clear to anyone willing to pay attention. This was a dangerous and deliberate fueling of white supremacist ideology, which-once uncovered, promised to wreak havoc on our already deeply fractured nation.

So how can we be surprised when Nazis now march—armed and angry—through the streets of a college town chanting “Jews will not replace us”? The murder of Heather Heyer is tragic and horrific, but even that ought not surprise us. Charlottesville represents exactly what happens when hatred is met with anything short of explicit and unequivocal condemnation. Domestic terrorism is the logical outcome of an atmosphere of racialized tension that now receives daily ammunition from the highest offices.

.There’s a reason the white supremacists didn’t wear hoods to march in the streets this time; they didn’t feel they had anything to hide.

Thoughts and prayers for the victims—even expressions of outrage and disgust—are grossly insufficient. It takes generations to heal racial wounds and divisions. It takes a few casual dog-whistles to reignite them. It’s long past time for white Americans to stand up and acknowledge that a culture of racism is a culture of violence. It’s long past time forJews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists—people of all faiths and none—for immigrant and Native Americans, men, women and LGBT Americans to come together to manifest a political and social reality that reflects American ideals of freedom, dignity and justice for all.

We must come together today, not only to offer words of condemnation and consolation, but to do the hard work to heal our country before we slide further into the abyss.

I got hate mail: Anti-Semitism on Twitter

On Aug. 31, I sat and listened to Donald Trump’s eagerly anticipated immigration speech in Phoenix. And tears began streaming down my face.

Trump’s speech was filled with racist, xenophobic slurs and fear-mongering. It was counter to the founding values of our country. It was also contrary to the primary teachings and values of Judaism. Providing welcome to the stranger (because we were once strangers) is mentioned more than 36 times in the Torah. 

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34).

I needed to speak out as a human being, as an American and as a Jew.

I went to Twitter, where I began to “live tweet.”

For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, a “tweet” is a comment of a maximum of 140 characters. To “live tweet” means that you are commenting on an event currently in progress. It’s like having a huge group of people discussing together from all over the world. It’s usually awesome.

Your tweets show on your Twitter friends’ “feed” and evidently, they are also public. I am uncertain about the algorithms of Twitter.

I’m conscious about who I accept as “Twitter friends.” I check to make sure someone is not racist or sexist or lurid. If so, I decline.

By the end of the night, I had begun to receive, from people I do not know, and with whom I am not “Twitter friends,” hateful messages that stunned me. I tweeted, sarcastically:

“Well that was fun. Just blocked 10 ppl with Hitler/racist/white supremacist/ views.”

I went to bed after posting a beautiful photo with the words, “I can’t go to bed without putting love & beauty out into the world,” because I didn’t want the ugliness of the evening to be how I ended the day.

By the next morning, my Twitter wall was littered with hundreds of messages, many accompanied by photos of Hitler, crematoriums, swastikas, caricatures of Jews, and transport trains.

These messages were not from friends. I don’t know these people.

It was landslide of enormous hatred.  Even though I was tweeting about immigrants and refugees from around the world, what was directed at me was about being a Jew. Maybe because my twitter handle is @RabbiJill. Maybe because Donald Trump’s candidacy has emboldened a sick undercurrent of hatred to emerge.

In my entire life, I have never experienced this volume of anti-Semitism. I grew up in a predominantly Jewish suburb of Chicago. However, as an adult, we lived in places where we were the only Jews on the block.

At first, I literally felt sick to my stomach. 

And then, I got angry.

These people, who don’t even know me, wanted to silence me.

And it’s not going to happen.

My husband and family were concerned. My grown kids checked my privacy settings to be sure our home address or phone numbers were not public. A few of the messages were absolutely threatening (like the one where someone took my profile photo and superimposed “Jewish Propaganda” on it.)

After some research, I had a plan. I took screenshots of each tweet. I blocked people and I reported many to Twitter. If a tweet is offensive or harmful, you can ask Twitter to investigate. If the user is found to be violating Twitter decency rules,  the account can be closed. 

I reported more than 60 people. I haven’t heard a word from Twitter (yet.) Its employees might be busy. There is an uptick in the amount of hate speech being reported. I’m not alone.

Some friends advised me to ignore the tweets and to not give them any attention.

I don’t agree. 

I believe it is our duty to expose this hate.

People need to know that Donald Trump’s candidacy has made it legitimate to spew this vileness. He has made it acceptable to be “politically incorrect.” The dike has broken and it’s ugly. Better that it be out in the open.

We say in Jewish circles, “Never again.” 

It’s not only “never again” for the slaughter of millions.

It is also “never again” to let this kind of hate spill over without comment.

Here are a few other gleanings from this experience: 1) Facebook is a love-fest compared with Twitter. When I posted about this situation on Facebook, I received so much loving support it made me cry (with gratitude).

I’m not quitting Twitter. I have made friends — Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists from all over the world. Good, kind, funny people. I’m not going to be chased away from relationships that give me hope and make me laugh. I also learn things on Twitter that I don’t elsewhere. Why let them win?

Except for Native Americans, we are all immigrants. The prosperity we enjoy in this country is only possible because our ancestors were able to come here and thrive.

When I see the pictures of the children of Aleppo, Syria, and other refugees wandering, looking for a safe place, my heart opens. It is my deep belief that we are better because of our diversity.

Our job on planet Earth is to build bridges, not walls. The country that I want to be in, is one that welcomes all, and where love is stronger than fear.


Rabbi Jill Zimmerman founded the Jewish Mindfulness Network (JMN). She was rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, Temple Beth El in Riverside and Etz Rimon in Carlsbad. In Jerusalem, she worked at the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Her website is ravjill.com.

White supremacist David Duke planning congressional bid

White supremacist leader David Duke is gearing up to run for Congress, saying his decision was bolstered by the killing last week of five white Dallas policemen at the hands of a black gunman.

Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, told the Daily Beast on Tuesday that he plans to challenge incumbent Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., saying he has “very seriously set up an exploratory committee” and expects to make a decision “in a few days.” The ballot deadline is July 22.

Speaking about the Dallas killings, Duke said: “I don’t take any satisfaction in the fact that I was right, but I have been right. Unless European Americans stand up, they are going to lose everything they care about in this country.”

 

Duke has asserted publicly that Jews control the Federal Reserve Bank, the U.S. government and the media. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1990 and for Louisiana governor in 1991, losing in a runoff election to Edwin Edwards.

He has endorsed Donald Trump for president and compared himself to the presumptive Republican nominee.

“I’ve said everything that Donald Trump is saying and more,” Duke said, according to the Daily Beast. “I think Trump is riding a wave of anti-establishment feeling that I’ve been nurturing for 25 years.”

In February, Duke endorsed Trump on his radio program, telling his listeners to volunteer for and vote for Trump.

In an interview days after the endorsement on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Trump told host Jake Tapper: “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”

Trump disavowed the endorsement hours after the “State of the Union” interview, for the second time in three days, after refusing to do so on the program.

Scalise, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2008 and is now the majority whip, reportedly once called himself “David Duke without the baggage.”

White supremacist may have targeted ADL’s Foxman

A white supremacist arrested after informing his wife that he planned to kill Jews and blacks may have targeted Anti-Defamation League leader Abraham Foxman, the FBI said.

Danny Lee Warner, 33, was arrested Dec. 28 outside a McDonald’s in Arizona the day after his estranged wife received a letter postmarked Dec. 19 saying that he planned to kill “niggers and Jews” until the government “stopped him.”

According to the police, Warner’s wife and his Internet-browsing history suggested that he also may have hoped to head to New York and target Foxman, the ADL’s national director. The day Warner was arrested, the ADL sent out a security alert to Jewish organizations warning them that they could potentially be targeted.

Photographs provided by the police showed Warner giving a Nazi salute.

According to law enforcement, Warner had been a leader of the Silent Aryan Warriors, a white supremacist organization, while serving 10 years in a Utah prison.

The Associated Press reported that Warner was charged with violating his parole, weapons infractions in Arizona and possessing stolen property in California, as well as other unspecified federal charges.