ADL report shows Michigan ranked high in white supremacist propaganda distribution in 2022.

Michigan ranked fourth in the country during an all-time high year nationally for white supremacist propaganda distribution, according to a report released March 8 from the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL’s annual assessment of propaganda activity recorded 6,751 incidents nationally in 2022, a 38 percent increase over the previous year. White supremacists targeted Michigan 355 times — a 132 percent increase over the previous year. Only Texas, Massachusetts and Virginia ranked higher in terms of propaganda activity last year.

The ADL Center on Extremism tracked a myriad of propaganda activity last year, including the mass distribution of antisemitic, racist and anti-LGBTQ+ flyers; the dissemination of stickers, banners, graffiti and posters; hateful laser projections on buildings and stadiums, and in-person white supremacist gatherings, among other events. Reported incidents of explicitly antisemitic propaganda more than doubled nationally, rising from 352 incidents in 2021 to 852 in 2022.

Michigan ranks eighth in the nation for white supremacist propaganda distribution on campuses, which includes K-12 schools, colleges and universities, according to the report. ADL recorded 219 incidents of white supremacist propaganda distribution on campuses, a 6 percent decrease from 2021 and the lowest number since ADL began tracking in 2017.

Michigan is at a critical moment in the fight against extremism and bigotry, said ADL Michigan Regional Director Carolyn Normandin.

Carolyn Normandin
Carolyn Normandin

“It’s disappointing and alarming to see Michigan near the top of any list related to hate and extremism,” Normandin said. “Now is the time for millions of Michiganders to support our neighbors and reject the intimidation efforts of white supremacists in our communities.”

This report follows a noticeable rise in local incidents of antisemitism in recent years.

In September 2022, University of Michigan students in neighborhoods near campus woke up to flyers placed on their porches right before Rosh Hashanah that contained antisemitic conspiracy theories with a QR code linking to an antisemitic hate website.

In November, West Bloomfield Police investigated two threats against West Bloomfield’s Frankel Jewish Academy. The following month, a Dearborn man was accused of spewing anti-Israel rhetoric and anti-Jewish and racist language toward young children, parents and security at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Township. He is facing local and federal charges in connection with the incident.

“We know that propaganda gives rise to uninformed hatred of Jewish people,” Normandin said. “A line can be drawn directly from propaganda, spreading conspiracy theories and other forms of hate messaging to antisemitic incidents.”

Normandin says it’s important that people continue to address it and to understand it’s here and we can’t ignore it.

“We must speak out as a community,” she said. “We must use our words, we must hold our influencers, elected officials, celebrities and athletes accountable. We cannot tolerate when people in the public square use their bully pulpits to spread hatred — we must call it out every single time.”

The 2022 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents will be released by the ADL within the next few weeks.

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