News & Updates

  • White Christian Nationalism ‘Is a Fundamental Threat to Democracy’

    Posted by · June 19, 2024 9:55 AM

    New York Magazine - An ideology is on the march. Traces of it are detectable in a racist massacre in Buffalo; in Tucker Carlson’s monologues; in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s public comments. Find it again in the right’s anti-abortion rhetoric, which poorly disguises demographic anxiety, or in the right’s response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which shows it embracing God and guns with ever greater conviction. This ideology has a name, argue sociologists Samuel L. Perry of the University of Oklahoma and Philip S. Gorski of Yale University. Perry and Gorski call it white Christian nationalism, and in their view, it represents a pressing threat to democracy.

    In The Flag and the Cross, their new book from Oxford University Press, white Christian nationalists undergo careful scrutiny. Combining research with data analysis, Gorski and Perry argue that white Christian nationalists share a set of common anti-democratic beliefs and principles. “These are beliefs that, we argue, reflect a desire to restore and privilege the myths, values, identity, and authority of a particular ethnocultural tribe,” they write. “These beliefs add up to a political vision that privileges the tribe. And they seek to put other tribes in their proper place.”

    I recently spoke with Gorski and Perry about their findings and the threat white Christian nationalism poses to democracy.

    Why do you think the term “white Christian nationalism” is so important to use?

    Gorski: I think because it identifies one of the deepest and most powerful currents in American political culture, one that has been invisible to most folks outside of that culture and even, in a way, to a lot of people inside of that culture because it’s the water they swim in and the air they breathe. And of course it’s also important because it is right now evolving into a deeply anti-democratic ideology, one that really is driving some of the most radical fringe groups in the United States today, including many mainstream political candidates in the Republican Party.

    Perry: I would say that one element we see, just from an empirical standpoint, is that quantitative indicators of Christian-nationalist ideology seem to operate differently for white Americans than for, say, African Americans. When white Americans take our surveys and answer questions about whether the United States is a Christian nation or we don’t need a separation of church and state or we should advocate Christian values in the government, for them, it is powerfully associated with things like nostalgia and authoritarianism and a certain vision of America’s history as this kind of mythic story: that we have a special relationship with God and that there is this kind of place that we are going — this deep story.

    And the vision we talk about in the book for, say, African Americans who take the same survey and answer the same questions, those questions mean something different. Clearly, for African Americans to affirm those kinds of statements about Christian nation, Christian values, Christian heritage, they don’t think nostalgically for a better time. They think aspirationally. It seems, from the way they respond to other questions, that they respond to a lot of what Phil has talked about in a previous book on civil religion — that there is this aspirational component of American civil religion that holds to a creedal understanding of what America is supposed to be about, our constitutional principles. And so you can see what would seem like Christian nationalism in the mouth of Martin Luther King Jr. or Frederick Douglass properly understood as calls to live up to the values we claim to adhere to.

    Read More

  • New wave of bills targeting libraries is ‘a threat to our democracy,’ American Library Association warns

    Posted by · March 13, 2024 9:20 AM

    NBC News - The association, founded in 1876, condemned legislation that would threaten librarians and other educators with criminal prosecution for possessing “obscene” material

    Less than two months into 2024, lawmakers in at least 13 states have introduced legislation that could disrupt libraries’ services and censor their materials. The new wave of bills follows a historic year of book challenges, mainly affecting titles centered on the topics of race, gender identity or sexual orientation.

    “The American Library Association condemns in the strongest terms possible legislation in more than a dozen states that would threaten librarians and other educators with criminal prosecution for doing their jobs,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, in a statement. “This is not a culture war; it’s a threat to our democracy.”

    Caldwell-Stone added, “Nowhere have we witnessed attacks on education like those currently proposed in Wisconsin.” 

    The Wisconsin Legislature is considering a bill to take away protections from library employees being prosecuted on charges of possessing “obscene” materials by removing public, private and tribal schools from the list of institutions exempt from prosecution for obscene materials violations.

    “Those who would prosecute librarians and teachers would divert precious education resources to defending frivolous lawsuits and policing our nation’s most trusted institutions and community anchors: libraries and schools,” Caldwell-Stone said.

    In Idaho, a bill proposes to prohibit librarians from making materials that include sexual conduct available to minors. Homosexuality is included in that category alongside sexual intercourse and masturbation. 

    Caldwell-Stone said the American Library Association is familiar with “attempts to rewrite obscenity statutes” to encompass specific books and topics, and she said she considers it a form of discrimination.

    Obscenity laws in the majority of the states provide exemptions and are designed to prevent legal action against school, museum and library employees, who typically provide access to a breadth of materials.

    Revoking those exemptions would mean schools and libraries would have to spend more time and resources on defense against scrutiny, Caldwell-Stone said.

    Read More

  • Antisemitic incidents in U.S. surged 360% after Hamas attack: ADL

    Posted by · January 10, 2024 8:24 AM

    AXIOS - Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. have more than tripled in the three months following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel, according to new Anti-Defamation League (ADL) preliminary data.

    Driving the news: Antisemitic cases involving incidents like physical assault, harassment and vandalism, were higher than the total number of antisemitic episodes tracked in almost every year since ADL started monitoring this data in the late 1970s, the group said Wednesday.

    By the numbers: The ADL documented 3,283 antisemitic incidents between Oct. 7, 2023, and Jan. 7, the group's report said. That's a 360% jump from the same period a year earlier.

    • At least 628 incidents were reported against Jewish institutions such as synagogues and community centers.
    • The report said 505 incidents occurred on college campuses, and another 246 were reported in K-12 schools.
    • About two-thirds of the reported incidents could be directly related to the Israel-Hamas war, the ADL report said.

    Zoom out: Since Oct. 7, there was an average of nearly 34 antisemitic incidents per day, putting 2023 on track to be the highest year for antisemitic acts against Jews, according to ADL records.

    • The preliminary three-month tally is higher than the total number of antisemitic incidents tracked in any year in the last decade, except for 2022, when the number of such incidents reached a historic high of 3,697.

    Read More

  • Two states are filing lawsuits to curtail the activities of a neo-Nazi organization

    Posted by · December 20, 2023 8:55 AM

    KWBU - 

    A MARTÍNEZ, HOST: Attorneys general in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are filing lawsuits to curtail the increasingly public activities of a neo-Nazi group called NSC-131. NPR's domestic extremism correspondent Odette Yousef joins us now. All right. NSC-131 - who are they, and what are they doing, Odette?

    ODETTE YOUSEF, BYLINE: Well, A, NSC-131 stands for Nationalist Social Club Anti-Communist Action. It was started in 2019 by a Massachusetts man named Christopher Hood and now has an estimated 20 to 30 active members. They are explicitly neo-Nazi, pursuing a white nationalist agenda. And these suits relate to activities that the group undertook mostly in 2022, 2023, when it was deliberately trying to increase its public profile throughout New England. Its members disrupted several drag queen story hours at libraries and other establishments. They patrolled neighborhoods, and they visited several hotels that were putting up asylum-seekers, targeting and harassing migrants and other patrons. In several instances, A, the group has been involved in physical violence. But actually, these are not criminal charges. These are civil lawsuits.

    MARTÍNEZ: Why not? I mean, they sound like crimes, especially violence. So why is this being pursued in civil court?

    YOUSEF: Yeah. I put that question to Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell, and here's what she said.

    ANDREA CAMPBELL: We think we have a strong case here to hold them accountable, frankly, not focusing on individual acts, but the pattern and the persistent harassing and threatening behavior we're seeing that is targeting and terrorizing people all across the Commonwealth.

    YOUSEF: So the strategy in Massachusetts, A, is to string together several incidents to argue that this organization is engaging in illegal activity to violate residents' civil rights. Now, in New Hampshire, the state's - that state's taking a different approach. That case is focusing on just one incident where the group disrupted a drag queen story hour at a restaurant in Concord. And the state's claiming that this amounted to trying to terrorize an establishment into violating the state's law against discrimination.

    Read More

  • One Month Following Hamas Massacre, ADL Documents Dramatic Surge in Antisemitic Incidents in the U.S.

    Posted by · November 17, 2023 10:47 PM

    ADL - In the month following Hamas’s terror attack on Israel, antisemitic incidents in the U.S. increased by 316 percent compared to the same time period last year, according to preliminary data released today by ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). At the same time, Americans are growing increasingly concerned about antisemitism, with more than 70 percent agreeing in a new survey that Jew-hatred is a serious problem.

    In the one-month period between Oct. 7 and Nov. 7, 2023, the ADL Center on Extremism documented 832 antisemitic incidents of assault, vandalism and harassment across the U.S., an average of nearly 28 incidents a day. This represents a 316 percent increase from the 200 incidents reported during the same period in 2022.

    An interactive map plotting where incidents occurred since Oct. 7 can be found here.

    Of the 832 incidents, ADL recorded 632 acts of harassment, 170 instances of vandalism, and 30 assaults.

    ADL’s data shows that at least 200 of the 653 anti-Israel rallies held across the U.S. since Oct. 7 featured explicit or strong implicit support for Hamas and/or violence against Jews in Israel. These rallies are included in ADL’s tally of antisemitic incidents under the harassment category.

    124 of the incidents took place on college campuses since Oct. 7, compared to only 12 incidents over the same time period last year.

    “As we have seen repeatedly, when conflict arises in the Middle East, particularly when Israel exercises its right to self-defense, antisemitic incidents increase here in the U.S. and around the world,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “These include violent assaults on pro-Israeli students on college campuses, anti-Israel protests openly expressing support for terrorist organizations, as well as white supremacists distributing antisemitic fliers and banners blaming Jews for the war.”

    Read More

  • How the Israel-Hamas war is fueling hate against Muslims and Jews

    Posted by · November 02, 2023 8:48 AM

    Vox - Deadly violence in the Middle East is spurring attacks and heightening fear in Muslim, Jewish, and Arab (especially Palestinian) communities across the United States.

    In Illinois, about a week after Hamas militants attacked Israel, a landlord stabbed his tenants, 6-year-old Wadea al-Fayoume and his mother Hanaan Shahin, more than two dozen times for being Muslim, according to the police. Only the mother survived and told a relative that the landlord yelled “you Muslims must die!” as he choked her.

    Police opened a hate crime investigation this week after a man in Los Angeles was yelling “free Palestine,” “kill Jews,” “brown people matter,” and “Israel kill people,” and kicked in the back door of a Jewish family’s home and entered.

    Israel’s airstrikes in the past three weeks have killed more than 8,000 Palestinians, most of them women and minors, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Hamas’s attack killed more than 1,400 Israelis, and the group is still holding about 200 people hostage, according to the Israeli government. As the war continues, law enforcement officials expect hate crimes reports to only increase: The FBI warned last week that “the volume and frequency of threats to Americans, especially those in the Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities in the United States, have increased, raising our concern that violent extremists and lone offenders motivated by or reacting to ongoing events could target these communities.”

    At the Pennsylvania state Capitol, a man pulled up to a pro-Palestine protest, yelled out anti-Muslim and racist slurs, and pointed a gun at rallygoers from his car. In California, synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses have been vandalized since the start of the war. Flyers with anti-Jewish rhetoric — including “Jews wage war on American freedoms!” — were placed on vehicles across Orange County.

    A man in Illinois was charged with a hate crime after threatening to shoot two Muslim men and yelling slurs at them. A Muslim all-girls school was on “soft-lockdown” after receiving a “threatening hate letter” that applauded the killing of al-Fayoume and included “racist, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Muslim language, and discussed killing Muslims and Palestinians.”

    Owners at a New York City Palestinian restaurant, who publicly called for an end to what they deemed Israel’s “apartheid,” disconnected the restaurant’s phone over threatening voicemails. The restaurant has received nonstop one-star reviews since the start of the conflict; a man entered the dining room in the past week, shouting “terrorist” at the workers. College campuses have become breeding grounds for a host of antisemitic and anti-Muslim acts, leaving students fearful that they are unprotected from intimidation and possible violence.

    The FBI’s national hate crimes data is reported on a yearly basis, and the agency has not released specific numbers about the increases they’ve seen in threats and hate crimes against Palestinians, Jews, or Muslims have risen in the past few weeks. Even so, the FBI’s latest hate crimes report, released on October 16, showed that hate crimes were already on the rise in the past year.

    Hate crimes increased by 7 percent in 2022 compared to 2021. Anti-Jewish attacks, the second highest hate crimes category after anti-Black, rose to 1,124 incidents. There were 158 reported anti-Muslim incidents and 92 reported anti-Arab incidents.

    The numbers are an undercount. Many police departments opt out of submitting hate crime data to the FBI, and it remains difficult for officers to prove that a reported crime was motivated by bias. Fear and distrust of law enforcement among victims of certain populations, such as Muslim communities, leads to underreporting. Nevertheless, the number of incidents represents the highest number recorded since the FBI began collecting this information in 1991.

    Read More

  • Online hate surges after Hamas attacks Israel. Why everyone is blaming social media

    Posted by · October 11, 2023 10:21 AM

    USAToday - Allison Josephs got a bone-chilling threat in 2012 from someone who identified herself as Becky. “Hitler should have finished his good work,” the message read. The writer said she had her Louisville Slugger ready for the “next chance we get.”

    The frequency of hate-filled social media posts targeting Jews has only increased since then, said Josephs, a mother of four who runs the nonprofit Jew in the City. 

    So she said she was not surprised by the wave of online hate immediately following the deadly attacks in Israel as people celebrated Hamas’ acts of terror, striking fear of more violence to come.

    “From a social media perspective, it’s already been so bad, it’s kind of hard for it to get worse,” Josephs said.

    But it is getting worse. Groups who study online hate speech say it has spiked in recent days – not just for Jewish communities but also for Palestinians, who have faced increasing online hatred. And representatives of both communities agree on one thing: U.S.-based social media companies are still not doing anywhere near enough to rid their platforms of hate against targeted groups.

    The escalation in harsh rhetoric comes at a time when online hate speech was already increasing, experts said. In the weeks before the conflict, the ADL was locked in a bitter dispute with X, formerly Twitter, over Elon Musk’s alleged promotion of extremists and hands-off approach to content moderation. Meanwhile, 7amleh, an Arab civil rights organization has been meeting with X for months, trying to persuade the company to quell hate speech against Palestinians.

    Read More

  • Neo-Nazi groups spew hate outside Disney World and near Orlando

    Posted by · September 08, 2023 9:28 AM

    NBCNews - Groups of neo-Nazis and white supremacists spread antisemitic, white supremacist and anti-LGBTQ messages outside Disney World and in the nearby Orlando, Florida, area Saturday in the latest examples of rising antisemitism in the U.S., officials said.

    About 15 people wearing clothing and bearing flags emblazoned with Nazi insignia demonstrated outside the entrance to the Disney Springs shopping center, said the Orange County Sheriff's Office, which said deputies were dispatched around 10:40 a.m.

    According to the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights organization dedicated to countering extremism, participants carried antisemitic, white supremacist and anti-LGBTQ flags and signs. The group consisted of members of the neo-Nazi groups Order of the Black Sun, Aryan Freedom Network and 14 First, a now disbanded group that has been absorbed into the National Socialist Movement, the largest neo-Nazi group in the U.S., according to the ADL.

    Read More

  • Racist Jacksonville shooter wore Rhodesian army patch, a symbol of white supremacy

    Posted by · August 30, 2023 8:41 AM

    NBCNews - The white gunman who killed three Black people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, over the weekend wore a Rhodesian army patch on his tactical vest, law enforcement sources say, a reference that has been used before during white supremacist attacks.

    The patch — representing Rhodesia, a former white minority-ruled territory in southern Africa in the 1960s and ’70s that would become Zimbabwe — is yet another symbol of how the shooter, Ryan Palmeter, was racist and was influenced by racist ideology, investigators say.

    Further details also emerged Monday about his struggles with his mental health and a domestic disturbance that required law enforcement intervention.

    “This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people,” Sheriff T.K. Waters told reporters Saturday.

    The victims were identified as: Angela Michelle Carr, 52, an Uber driver who was dropping off a passenger at the Dollar General; Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29; and Anolt Joseph “A.J.” Laguerre Jr., 19, an employee at the store.

    The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said it had no additional comments when asked about the Rhodesian army patch.

    An admitted white supremacist who was convicted in the 2015 shooting of nine worshippers at a historically Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, appeared in an online image wearing a jacket with two patches: the green-and-white flag of Rhodesia and the flag of apartheid-era South Africa. He remains on federal death row.

    Rhodesia’s white military had been locked in conflict with the Black population before the territory was dissolved into what is now Zimbabwe.

    Rhodesia also became a reference for white lawmakers in the South who sought to uphold segregationist Jim Crow-era policies, and it continues to embolden white nationalists in the U.S., said Gerald Horne, the author of “From the Barrel of a Gun: The United States and the War Against Zimbabwe.”

    “They would like to see the clock turned back to the days of yore,” said Horne, a professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston. 

    “Oftentimes, what you find with some of these white supremacists, these lone wolves, as they’re called, these vigilantes, they adhere to an idea that a single spark can start a prairie fire,” Horne said. “They feel that their actions will lead to a larger conflagration and that will lead to their demented dreams’ coming true.”

    Read More

  • Righting Wrongs - How Civil Rights Can Protect Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Against Racism

    Posted by · July 26, 2023 11:03 AM - More than 11,000 acts of hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been reported to the national coalition Stop AAPI Hate since March 2020 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes thousands of parents, siblings, friends, and neighbors who are simply going about their everyday lives — commuting to work on public transit, taking their kids to school, shopping for groceries or running errands — only to suddenly face discrimination, bullying, harassment, shunning, or assault. Some of these acts of discrimination may be violations of civil rights laws.

    To better understand these troubling, and at times illegal, experiences with hate, Stop AAPI Hate commissioned the nonpartisan and independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct a nationally representative survey of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This landmark survey adds to community-generated data at Stop AAPI Hate and existing research to provide a more complete picture of the discrimination that impacts Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the changes needed to uphold the civil rights that protect us all.

    Key Findings

    1. Nearly half (49%) of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment that may be illegal. • This discrimination, which is usually based on race or ethnicity, happens when they dine at restaurants, shop for groceries, and ride public transit, as students at school and employees at work, when renting and buying homes, when voting, and when interacting with government employees, including members of law enforcement or staff at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

    2. Discrimination negatively affects the mental health and well-being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. • Half (50%) of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders experiencing discrimination report feeling sad, stressed, anxious, or depressed as a result. • 45% say it negatively changed their sense of belonging to their school, workplace, or other community, and nearly a third (31%) say it negatively changed their behavior, such as switching schools, jobs, or where they shop.

    3. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders know they have rights and want accountability for unlawful discrimination, yet few who experienced what they believed to be a civil rights violation report it. • Only one in five (21%) Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who experienced discrimination said they reported it. • A majority (60%) of those who experienced discrimination and reported it say the reporting process was difficult. • Half (52%) of those who experienced discrimination but did not report it thought reporting would not make a difference.

    4. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders want a better understanding of how to enforce their rights and want new laws to protect their civil rights. • A majority (60%) of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders want to learn more about their rights and how to enforce them. • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders trust community, advocacy, and civil rights organizations serving their respective communities (57%) and government agencies responsible for enforcing civil rights (54%) to learn more about their rights. • A majority (67%) believe new civil rights laws are needed.

    Read More