ADL Report Discusses Rise in International White Supremacism

September 19, 2019

A report released by the Anti-Defamation League on Sept. 18 examines how white supremacy has become a global threat thanks to the internet.

The report, titled “Hate Beyond Borders: The Internationalization of White Supremacy,” warns of “surging violence in the United States and Europe motivated by right-wing extremism” that has metastasized from “virtual and actual gatherings” of white supremacists.

“As we’re seeing a series of deadly attacks around the world motivated by elements of white supremacy, we thought it was time to pull together a report that looks at how white supremacists abroad influence here in the United States and vice versa,” ADL Center on Extremism Director Oren Segal told the Journal in a phone interview.

According to the report, platforms including Twitter, 8chan and Reddit have helped create an echo chamber for white supremacists. According to the report, “this networking online and in person emboldens them and gives them the impression that the white supremacist movement is thriving. This, in turn, encourages white supremacists to believe they have widespread credibility and support, while creating an international marketplace for their hateful ideas.”

Segal said those ideas mentioned in white supremacist discussions and manifestos include “the idea of ‘white genocide,’ the idea that whites are going to be extinct because of demographic changes, the idea that diversity and multiculturalism poses a risk to whites around the world,” largely stemming from “increasing nonwhite immigration into Europe and the U.S.”

The report cites French writer Renaud Camus as one of the thought leaders behind “the great replacement theory” that nonwhite immigration into the West will drive the white race to extinction. When neo-Nazis chanted, “You will not replace us!” during the 2017 Charlottesville, Va., riots, “Camus condemned the white supremacist ideology, but defended the focus on replacement,” according to the report.

The report also states that instances of white supremacist shootings and the perpetrators’ manifestos have inspired other acts of violence. Anti-Defamation League Senior Vice President for International Affairs Sharon Nazarian said during a Sept. 18 congressional hearing about the report, “Over the past eight years, more than 175 people have died at the hands of white supremacists worldwide. There is a through line from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh, to Christchurch, Poway and El Paso.”

Nazarian urged Congress to “strengthen laws against perpetrators of online misconduct, and it can encourage online forums to implement more robust governance against cyberhate.” She also called on Congress and the State Department to add white supremacist organizations to the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. 

“We must act swiftly, decisively and comprehensively to counter this threat and prevent it from metastasizing,” she said.

The report also notes that Patrick Crusius, who allegedly shot and killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, said in his manifesto that one of his inspirations was Brenton Tarrant —  the suspect linked to the terror attacks at New Zealand mosques in March. Tarrant also inspired the suspected Chabad of Poway shooter, John Earnest. Tarrant’s manifesto states he drew inspiration from Anders Breivik, who was sentenced to 21 years in prison in 2012 for killing 77 people in Norway in 2011; and Dylann Roof, who was sentenced to death in 2017 for shooting and killing nine African-Americans in a South Carolina church. 

Breivik in particular is considered to be an icon among white supremacists worldwide according to the report, because of his “hatred toward Muslims and immigrants” expressed in his manifesto in addition to the killing. “He is a symbol in some white supremacist circles, with some images depicting him as a saint or a hero,” the report states. “Other fervent supporters who want to demonstrate their commitment to his anti-immigrant extremism use terms such as ‘going Breivik’ or ‘going full Breivik.’ ”

Segal said, “To the degree that an attack happens and there’s a mass glorification of that violence, scorekeeping of death tolls, new memes and imagery created … demonstrates the role that having like-minded communities, even if virtual, plays in radicalizing people.” 

The report goes on to list myriad examples of white supremacist “influencers” and international coordination, including former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leader David Duke giving various anti-Semitic speeches throughout Europe and influencing social media trends.

The report notes, “In December 2018, when the far-right party Vox won seats in the Spanish parliament in the Andalusia region, Duke tweeted, ‘VOX triumphs in Andalusia! 12 seats and the end of the socialist regime … and shows that change is possible.’ ” 

The report states that Duke’s tweet caused the KKK to trend on Twitter in Spain.

The report also documents instances of white supremacist conferences held in the United States that have featured speakers from outside the country, including alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute conference in 2013 featuring “a number of Europeans including Frenchman Alain De Benoist, one of the original ‘new right’ ideologues. Another Frenchman, Roman Bernard, co-hosted the conference with Richard Spencer. Piero San Giorgio of Switzerland, author of ‘Survive: The Economic Collapse,’ a book that is popular among Identitarians, also spoke.” Identitarians are those who believe in “the great replacement” theory.

Social media companies have engaged in numerous attempts to de-platform sites that promulgate white supremacist rhetoric, but white supremacists “continue to find alternative sites that allow them to share their racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views,” the report states.

“There are so many other platforms that exist in which white supremacists can communicate,” Segal said.

The report concludes, “European and American adherents are learning from each other, supporting each other and reaching new audiences. They feel empowered and emboldened because they perceive that they are influencing the political climate and reaching disaffected whites.” 

The report encourages social media companies to enforce “terms of service that address hateful content and harassing behavior, and clearly define consequences for violations.”

Segal told the Journal there needs to be “a holistic approach” to fighting white supremacy, mainly “law enforcement, community organizations [and] the bully pulpit to stop the normalization of some of these hateful tropes.”

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