ADL’s Center on Extremism director Oren Segal discussed the rise of white nationalism in America today at the JCC.
Photo courtesy of JCRC/AJC
The rise of white nationalism is behind the rising number of anti-Semitic incidents in America today, according to Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. Segal was in Detroit last week to speak to the media during an annual event of the JCRC/AJC.
“White supremacy is resurgent. It poses a clear and present danger and could be considered a public health crisis,” said Segal, who discussed the increase in extremist spaces on the internet during his talk and how extremists have “weaponized” social media on free-for-all platforms such as Gab, 8Chan and Twitch.
Segal said 43% of anti-Semitic incidents recorded by the ADL are linked to extremist movements. White supremacist propaganda such as “Make America White Again” and “White Lives Matter” are increasingly common in the public sphere, he said.
The ADL also tracks lesser-known hate speech, such as “1488,” which is a combination of two popular white supremacist numeric symbols. The first symbol is 14, which is shorthand for the “14 Words” slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
The second is 88, which stands for “Heil Hitler” (H being the 8th letter of the alphabet). Together, the numbers form a general endorsement of white supremacy and its beliefs. More than 200 similar hateful symbols can be found in the ADL’s “Hate on Display” database.
“Every year there’s been a steady increase of their usage,” Segal said. “White supremacists feel emboldened — and comfortable.”
According to the ADL “H.E.A.T. Map,” which uses data to track hate, extremism and terrorism for its annual report of Anti-Semitic Incidents in the U.S. (which includes anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and assault), there were 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2018, the third highest year on record since it began tracking data in 1979.
Segal also spoke to a crowd of about 70 people who braved the season’s first big snowstorm at an event sponsored by ADL-Michigan, JCRC/AJC and Temple Shir Shalom.
The day following Segal’s appearance, on Nov. 12, the FBI released hate crime statistics from 2018. The number is down slightly from 2017 to 2018, according to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s annual Hate Crime Statistics report.
Law enforcement reported 7,120 hate crimes to the FBI’s UCR Program last year, down slightly from the 7,175 incidents reported the previous year.
According to the report, 7,036 single-bias hate crimes were reported to UCR in 2018 (431 in Michigan). From those incidents, there were 8,646 victims. The majority of the reported hate crimes were motivated by race, ethnicity or ancestry bias (59.6 percent). Additional biases included religion (18.7 percent), sexual orientation (16.7 percent), gender identity (2.2 percent), disability (2.1 percent) and gender (0.7 percent).
Of the 1,617 victims of anti-religious hate crimes, 56.9 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders’ anti-Jewish bias, followed by 14.6 percent who were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias.