Our objectives with this book include providing resources to communities and other stakeholders such as academia, law enforcement, and faith groups that are threatened with right-wing extremist activities. We approach the topic from a broad spectrum and with specifics. For example, we provide guides to specific groups and the code language and tactics they use. Case studies provide examples of how individuals, communities, and other stake-holders have dealt with the disruption and violence that these groups pose. In these troubled times, with the renewed rise of hate groups, communities need to be prepared to have their basic values challenged.
Our involvement in this endeavor is both intellectual and personal. As children of U.S. military officers during World War II, we are well aware of the history of the Nazi movement and its growth into a worldwide destabilizing, anti-democratic, and hate-filled force. Our careers encompassed issues of civil rights and prejudice from an early age with an emphasis on preventing discrimination and counteracting hate.
The philosophies embraced by the Nazis existed long before their appearance in the World War II era, and they continue today. Formerly under the radar, groups that adhere to the theories of racial superiority, extreme nationalism, and historical revisionism are now increasingly mainstream. Technology allows them to congregate, recruit, plan, and carry out vile acts. Blogs, podcasts, websites, and social networks enable and empower these individuals and groups to an often overwhelming degree. The results threaten individuals and communities in ways that most do not expect. While preparation is key to confronting the challenge, that preparation is often insufficient or nonexistent.
Why Prepare for Hate Groups Coming to Your Town?
The answer may seem self-evident to many, but some may not see their communities as vulnerable. Unfortunately, the threat is real. We’ve seen mass murders against a Jewish congregation in Pittsburgh; an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina; and people injured and one murdered in Charlottesville, Virginia. Statistics show that the number of hate crimes is growing and the groups targeted are increasingly at risk: LGBT people, African Americans, Asian Americans, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs. Intimidation is part of the mission of these groups espousing white supremacist and neo-Nazi hate. They shout down people at public forums, mount disruptive rallies at universities, and threaten reporters and news agencies. Social media and websites allow them to continually expand their reach and to recruit and plan.
Neo-Nazis and related hate groups desire a country or a state reserved only for whites who practice their perverted form of Christianity. The racism promoted by these groups is intended to generate fear and hatred of immigrants and people of color. They want to revert to a time of segregated schools and housing. No locale is too big or too small to be a target for their message.
This is not a familiar world unless we have relatives who experienced the Jim Crow period or who survived the Holocaust or other genocidal events. Most of us like to think that such events in the United States are part of history, not relevant to the present: lynchings of African Americans, the pro-Nazi German American Bund prior to World War II, the blacklists during the McCarthy years, persecution of Mormons in the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century, quotas restricting Blacks and Jews in colleges; the list goes on.
Imagine a regime in which all these evil tendencies come together. That’s what these hate groups want. Then imagine that your community is seen as a path to such a regime by these groups. Are you prepared to handle their intimidation, threats, and actions?
A Range of Approaches
Our goal is to utilize the Big Data of this new environment by organizing the information, tracking trends, reporting on community responses, and recommending strategies that are practical and implementable. By learning what others have done and from scholarly and academic studies, we hope to equip communities to protect themselves and preserve democratic values and the American Dream of social equity and fairness.
The approaches we discuss and recommend in this book range from “soft” ones to extreme approaches based on the degree and extent of threats and reality of violence and harm to people and property. As you participate in this book, we hope that you will
- recognize the hate, prejudice, and bias that lay the foundation for these groups to inflict harm on individuals and communities;
- build coalitions and partnerships that create bridges among diverse groups and strengthen the sense of community among all residents;
- build social cohesion, which consists of belonging, worth, social justice and equity, participation, and legitimacy
- provide education about these groups, the philosophies they espouse, and how they communicate;
- monitor incidents of racism, anti-Semitism, and all other forms of bigotry; and
- put in place strategies to deal with hate incidents and crimes in your community.
We know that some communities vary in the knowledge and organization they have in place to counteract the influence and presence of neo-Nazi and white supremacist activists. Given the changing nature of today’s environment and technology, we recommend that community leaders across the country explore their communities’ readiness for a hate-related incident. Assess whether you are prepared to implement the ideas and recommendations contained in this book and what you need to do to ensure ongoing readiness.
Our strategy is to provide background, context, case studies, and recommendations in each chapter. For those less familiar with the terminology, many of the terms we use are included in the glossary. For those whose efforts are more advanced, in-depth treatments of major topics can be found in the appendices. Additional resources are listed. There are many groups on the extremist right. Their names change and morph but their overall goals and funders stay largely the same. However, in the interest of the broadest community preparation and understanding, we have emphasized behaviors of the groups rather than specific names.
To continue reading, buy the book, When Hate Groups March Down Main Street.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please support our mission and join us as a Premium Member.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Shutterstock