Extreme right-wing groups are increasingly relying on the Internet to spread their anti-government and racist messages and recruit members, according to a new study by the Anti-Defamation League.
An early draft of “Danger: Extremism, the Major Vehicles and Voices on America’s Far-Right Fringe,” says that hate organizations over the last 18 months have seized on the relatively low cost of using the Internet and its accessibility to a large audience worldwide to create a new vehicle for marketing their materials, exchanging information and attracting sympathizers.
The ADL book, which is scheduled for release on Thursday, states that extremist groups have been bolstered by the “rhetorical support” they have received from segments of mainstream society.
The ADL cited the National Rifle Association’s statements last year likening federal law enforcement agents to the Nazi Gestapo as evidence of the “porousness of the line separating the mainstream from the fringe.”
It also cited talk radio personality G. Gordon Liddy’s statement that the best way to kill a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent was to aim for the head, where there is no bullet-proof vest, as well as recent appearances by several lawmakers on a radio talk show that the ADL says is sponsored by the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby.
The study contends that the entrance into Louisiana politics of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, who was nominated for president in 1988 by the Populist Party, has encouraged hate group leaders to repackage their views to appear more mainstream.
“When pernicious hate seeps into the mainstream dressed as political rhetoric, it threatens to legitimize intolerance and exclusion as an acceptable means of social change,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.
The ADL estimates that militias are active in 40 states with about 15,000 participants.