Campuses in 24 other states also have been hit with supremacist fliers, a new national report says.
White-supremacist groups are targeting college campuses in Washington and 24 other states with fliers that promote their ideology, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League, a national organization that fights hate speech and anti-Semitism.
Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said three white-supremacist groups appear to be at work in Washington: Identity Evropa and Atomwaffen at the University of Washington and American Vanguard at Washington State University.
In total, the Anti-Defamation League has cataloged 104 incidents of white-supremacist posters appearing on campuses in at least 25 states, starting in September 2016. “The fact we’re seeing this many fliers around the country raises a red flag,” Segal said.
The fliers on the UW campus prompted UW President Ana Mari Cauce to put out a message to the community on her blog Feb. 21, when she counseled students to report the fliers and other instances of hate crimes to the UW Police Department.
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“Don’t let these cowardly tactics succeed,” she wrote. “Remember: There are far, far more of us than there are of them.”
Segal said it’s not clear if the participants are doing it out of a sense of irony, or if they are “true believers” of white-supremacist ideology. The Identity Evropa group, which started in California in 2016, claims it has distributed fliers to more than 30 campuses, and part of its mission is to make it appear the ideology is widespread by distributing photos of the posted fliers on social media, Segal said.
Identity Evropa and American Vanguard do not overtly use racist language or symbols, such as swastikas, in their messages, Segal said. Identity Evropa, for example, describes itself as a “generation of awakened Europeans” who have discovered they are part of a great civilization, and who want to assert their identity.
“The more people learn about their ideas, they realize this is white supremacy by another name,” Segal said.
Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi group, is more blunt, using racist language and swastikas in its posters, he said.
None of the groups appears to be having meetings or doing other types of organizational efforts, beyond posting fliers, and “I’m not suggesting kids and students are suddenly going to join these awful groups,” Segal said.
But he said it was disturbing that the groups now feel comfortable enough to spread their message in the open, and that they believe their ideas are going mainstream.