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Press Release

ADL Report Examines the State of White Supremacy in America

New York, NY, July 13, 2015 … In the aftermath of the shooting attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina by a suspect seemingly influenced and radicalized by online hate propaganda, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today issued a comprehensive report looking at the state of white supremacy in the United States in 2015.

The new report, “With Hate in their Hearts: The State of White Supremacy in the U.S.,” puts the shooting spree by the suspected gunman, Dylann Storm Roof, into focus as one of a number of violent attacks by white supremacists, including major shooting sprees on three different types of religious institutions.      The report describes a dramatic resurgence in the extreme right since 2000 that has led to a significant increase in violence – especially major plots, acts and conspiracies – almost matching that of the era of the Oklahoma City bombing two decades ago.

“White supremacists are alive and well and they are operating both in groups and as lone wolves,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “They engage in every type of ideological violence, from hate crimes to acts of terrorism, and represent one of the most serious extremist-related threats in the United States today.”

Among the key findings of the report from ADL’s Center on Extremism:

  • Unaffiliated or independent white supremacists like Dylan Storm Roof far outnumber white supremacists who belong to specific organizations.
  • Most white supremacists are ideologically motivated by a series of racist beliefs, including the notion that whites should be dominant over people of other backgrounds, that whites should live by themselves in a whites-only society, and that white people have their own culture and are genetically superior to other cultures.
  • Anti-Semitism is also a central component of the belief system of the majority of white supremacists, who believe that Jews constitute a race of their own with parasitic and evil roots.
  • The tremendous growth of the Internet and social media has allowed many white supremacists to engage with like-minded people without having to actually join an organization.  Discussion forums like the racist and anti-Semitic “Stormfront” allow huge numbers of white supremacists to network and converse with each other without belonging to a group. Some of the violent acts conducted or plotted by white supremacists in recent years originated with online interactions.
  • Within white supremacy there are a variety of sub-movements, each of which contains its own constellation of groups and individual adherents.  Thus, the white supremacist movement has a sort of perverse “diversity” of its own.  These include neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, “traditional” white supremacists including Ku Klux Klan groups, white supremacist prison gangs, and Christian Identity adherents.
  • White supremacy often goes hand-in-hand with criminal activity. White supremacists in recent years have been responsible for various violent criminal acts, including hate crimes, murders and acts of terrorism, with major attacks in Charleston, South Carolina, Overland Park, Kansas, Oak Creek, Wisconsin and Austin, Texas, among others.
  • White supremacists are in fact the single greatest source of domestic extremist-related violence in the U.S., surpassing right-wing anti-government extremists, domestic Islamic extremists, and left-wing extremists and anarchists.

“White supremacists engage in a wide variety of activities to promote their ideas and causes or to cause fear in their perceived enemies,” said Mark Pitcavage, ADL Director of Investigative Research and the lead author of the report.  “But most white supremacists do not belong to organized hate groups.  The size of the movement is considerably greater than just the members of hate groups.”

ADL also recently updated its online backgrounder on the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, the organization cited by Dylann Storm Roof in his online racist manifesto.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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