The Year in Hate: Rage Against Change
White supremacy flourishes amid fears of immigration and nation's shifting demographics.
Surging numbers of hate groups. Rising right-wing populism and antisemitism. Mounting acts of deadly domestic terrorism. Increasing hate crimes. Exploding street violence.
That was the landscape of the radical right in 2018.
In the U.S., white supremacist anger reached a fever pitch last year as hysteria over losing a white-majority nation to demographic change — and a presumed lack of political will to stop it — engulfed the movement. White supremacists getting pushed off mainstream web platforms, President Donald Trump’s willingness to pass a tax cut for the rich but failure to build a wall and a turn to the left in the midterm elections drove deep-seated fears of an accelerating, state- and Silicon Valley-orchestrated “white genocide.”
Even Trump’s opportunistic November attacks on a caravan of migrants moving slowly north through Mexico were seen as all talk and no action by the white supremacist and anti-immigrant movements.
“Starting to feel swindled by @realDonaldTrump,” influential antisemitic writer Kevin MacDonald tweeted on Nov. 15. “He will get slaughtered in 2020 unless he does something serious for his base on immigration.” White nationalist Richard Spencer, who infamously led a crowd of fellow racists at a Washington, D.C., meeting in Nov. 2016 with a toast and raised stiff-armed chant of “Hail Trump,” was more blunt. Spencer took to Twitter in November to proclaim, “The Trump moment is over, and it’s time for us to move on.”
These fears and frustrations, heightened by U.S. Census Bureau projections that white people will no longer be a majority by 2044, helped propel hate to a new high last year. The total number of hate groups rose to 1,020 in 2018, up about 7 percent from 2017. White nationalist groups alone surged by nearly 50 percent last year, growing from 100 chapters in 2017 to 148 in 2018. But at the same time, Trump has energized black nationalist hate groups — typically antisemitic and anti-LGBT organizations — with an increase to 264 from 233 in 2017. Overall, though, the great majority of hate groups are those that despise racial, ethnic or religious minorities and they, unlike black nationalist groups, have a firm foothold in the mainstream.
The previous all-time high number of hate groups the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) counted was 1,018 in 2011, when rage against the first black president was roiling. Amid the era of Trump, hate groups have increased once again, rising 30 percent over the past four years. And last year marked the fourth year in a row that hate group numbers increased after a short period of decline. In the previous four-year period, the number of groups fell by 23 percent.
When Anger Turns Into Action
White supremacists’ angry energy metastasized in the two weeks leading up to the midterm elections, when three radical right terrorist attacks and one failed attempt at a mail-bombing spree shook the country, leaving 15 dead. The overall death toll tied to the radical right rose in 2018 as well, as white supremacists in Canada and the U.S. killed at least 40 people, up from 17 in 2017.
Among these killings was the Oct. 24 murder of two black people in a Kroger supermarket by a white man who first attempted to attack a Louisville-area black church, but couldn’t get in. Then, on Oct. 27, an immigrant-hating antisemite killed 11 at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh 10 days before the election. Radicalized online, Robert Bowers, who like Spencer had soured on Trump, imbibed a popular white supremacist conspiracy that Jews are bringing nonwhite immigrants and refugees into the U.S. to accelerate “white genocide.” Bowers voiced these lies on the social media forum Gab, a refuge for deplatformed haters. Also in the run-up to the election, a thankfully incompetent Facebook-using mail bomber who wanted to go “back to the Hitler days,” targeted Trump critics and set the country on edge.
The violence was so shocking that CNN’s exit polls found that three-quarters of voters said it was an important factor in their vote.
The midterms tended to validate hate groups’ fears for the future. Many extremist candidates lost, including prominent anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT candidates. Even more angering to hate groups were the dozens of women — who an increasingly misogynistic hate movement sees as allies to “white genocide” — elected to the new U.S. Congress, including two Muslims and a senator from Arizona who is openly bisexual. For white supremacists, these newly elected officials symbolize the country’s changing demographics — the future that white supremacists loathe and fear.
There were, however, some bright spots for extremists. Republican Ron DeSantis, who has a history of consorting with anti-Muslim groups and making racist statements, is Florida’s new governor. Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s new governor, ran on a hostile anti-immigrant platform. And Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who has repeatedly regurgitated white supremacist ideas, was re-elected. But in all cases the margins were narrow, and some in the GOP seemed to have finally acknowledged that racism and bigotry might not be good campaign fodder. King, for example, was rebuked by Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, the National Republican Congressional Committee chair, for racist tweets and comments a week before the election. “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior,” Stivers tweeted.
Trump Still Mainstreaming Hate
The organized hate movement may be showing signs of disappointment with Donald Trump, but the president, aided and abetted by Fox News, continues to push his noxious anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim ideas into the public consciousness — fueling fears of a forthcoming white-minority country.
A couple of weeks after the midterms, Trump reignited his rant against the migrant caravan, raging on Twitter: “There are a lot of CRIMINALS in the Caravan.” It was just the latest in the president’s long history of denigrating people of color from other countries. Trump has repeatedly made racist comments about Latinos, starting with his first day of campaigning when he referred to Mexicans as “rapists.” In January 2018 Trump reportedly referred to Haiti and other black-majority countries as “shitholes.” Longtime prominent white supremacist David Duke called those comments the “PERFECT TRUTH” on his Twitter feed. And Trump’s earlier attacks on the migrant caravan, which included calling Central American refugees from violence “gang members” and part of an “invasion” of the U.S. aided and abetted by the Democratic party, were straight out of the hate playbook.
In August, Trump tweeted in support of white South African farmers who extremists falsely argue are enduring a racist murder spree by black people, and he ordered a State Department inquiry into the matter. This propaganda is used by white supremacists as a “canary in the coal mine” scenario for white people. Three years ago, it was white supremacist Dylann Roof, wearing patches of apartheid governments, who cited the “white genocide” fantasy to justify his mass murder of African Americans in a Charleston church, and in October it was Robert Bowers using the same logic to justify his mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
The mainstreaming of harmful and poisonous ideas has spread to Trump’s allies, particularly those at Fox News. Tucker Carlson was the source of Trump’s South African tweet. He gave wildly incorrect information on the issue on his show the night before the president’s tweet, and he also hosted an apartheid apologist on his nightly program in May to discuss the so-called war on white farmers in that country. Carlson has used his program to engage in tirades against diversity, transgender people and, especially, immigrants.
Like white supremacists, Carlson has tied these bogeymen directly to demographic change. In July, Carlson said, “Latin American countries are changing election outcomes here by forcing demographic change on this country.” Then in November, he said, “It is never true that diversity is your strength.” In another broadcast, he told his viewers, “this is more change than human beings are designed to digest.”
Carlson’s Fox News colleague Laura Ingraham echoed this theme. In August, she said, “The America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. … Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people, and they are changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like.” No wonder Carlson is beloved by white supremacists such as Spencer as well as Andrew Anglin, who runs the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer. In May, Anglin called Carlson’s show “Tucker Carlson AKA Daily Stormer TV,” and wrote, “wow, someone important is reading my articles.”
Fox News is Trump’s megaphone as well as the source of many of his ideas. And his on-air allies Carlson and Ingraham, whom Trump watches religiously, have audiences between 2.5 million and 3 million viewers.
Most Americans are now fully aware that Trump is emboldening white supremacists and helping to grow their ranks. An October poll by the Public Religion Research Institute shows a majority believe Trump has “encouraged white supremacist groups.”
But he’s done more than that. He has installed people with extremist views into his administration, and their views are affecting policy.
The Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Muslim Movements Wield Real Power
Trump showed now former Attorney General Jeff Sessions the door immediately after the midterm elections, but not before Sessions had left an indelible mark on administration policy. During his time in office, Sessions led the charge against immigrants, speeding up the immigration court system to make it harder for people to remain in the U.S., referring to himself cases that used to be resolved by the Board of Immigration Appeals, ordering the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to refer all illegal border crossers to the Department of Justice for prosecution, and ending a policy that granted asylum to most victims of domestic abuse and gang violence in their home countries.
Sessions, like others still in the administration, has a close relationship with anti-immigrant hate groups, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). A number of FAIR’s former staffers have gone into the administration. Former FAIR leader Julie Kirchner is now ombudsman for DHS Citizenship and Immigration Services. John Zadrozny, another ex-FAIR employee, is now with the State Department. Ian Smith, formerly employed with FAIR’s legal arm, resigned his position in August at DHS, but only after leaked emails linked him to white nationalists Spencer and Jared Taylor.
Other appointees and staffers have ties to the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy. During his confirmation hearing, current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced questions about his connections to anti-Muslim figures like Frank Gaffney and Brigitte Gabriel. Gabriel’s hate group, ACT for America, lauded Pompeo’s confirmation, stating he “understands the threats our country faces.” The group had earlier awarded Pompeo its “National Security Eagle Award.” Gabriel has claimed that ACT for America has been granted standing weekly meetings with the White House.
Particularly devastating are Trump’s immigration policies, pushed by his senior adviser Stephen Miller and copied from FAIR and CIS. Miller, who was the main advocate of the Muslim ban and family separation policy, was close to Spencer when he was in college and has long-standing links to anti-Muslim leader David Horowitz, dating back to when Miller was in high school.
Whether it is unending ICE raids, abolishing temporary protected status, calling for the end of birthright citizenship, separating families, increasing the number of detentions or sending troops to the border, the administration’s willingness to enact vicious anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies is a travesty of American values.
Anti-LGBT Movement Embedded in the Administration
Anti-LGBT hate groups also now enjoy access never afforded to extremist groups by a modern administration. Groups like the Family Research Council (FRC) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) meet regularly with high-level administration officials to further their bigoted policy positions.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in private early in his term to ADF, setting off a firestorm of Freedom of Information Act requests for his remarks from advocacy groups. And high-level staffers from ADF have been hired by the DOJ since. ADF is a legal powerhouse that pursues litigation to restrict the civil rights of LGBT people and has pushed to criminalize gay sex in other countries.
Earlier in the year, Trump tried to reinstate a ban on transgender people in the military, releasing a memo based on a pseudoscientific report created by a “panel of experts” that included FRC President Tony Perkins and on which Vice President Mike Pence played a leading role.
Trump and his administration, influenced by these anti-LGBT organizations, have made additional moves against the trans community. TheNew York Times revealed in October that the Department of Health and Human Services is attempting to further marginalize trans people by spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of gender under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in federally funded programs. The Times noted that the new definition would eradicate federal recognition of around 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
Trump also nominated to the judiciary individuals with racist or anti-LGBT track records, including Andrew Oldham (confirmed) and Allison Rushing (awaiting confirmation), both of whom have worked with ADF, and Thomas Farr, who had ties to a eugenicist organization and only failed to be confirmed by one vote in the Senate. Under Sessions, the DOJ prepared amicus briefs in support of ADF lawsuits that seek to allow discrimination against LGBT people.
Data Shows Extremism Gaining Ground
Most Americans, including almost half of all white people, have come to see Trump as a racist, according to a March 2018 AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. And a majority disapproved of the comments Trump made after the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” racist and deadly riot, when he said there were “good people on both sides.”
But at the same time, Trump’s words and actions are giving sanction to hateful views among millions who increasingly don’t have a problem with racism and white supremacy. The University of Alabama’s George Hawley, an expert on the modern day white supremacists who refer to themselves as “alt-right,” estimated in 2018 that nearly 6 percent of America’s approximately 198 million non-Latino white people have beliefs consistent with the racist alt-right worldview, meaning that they broadly believe that politics should promote white interests above those of other racial groups.
And this isn’t just an American problem. Right-wing populism, fueled by anti-immigrant fervor, is exploding across the world, with extremist candidates gaining or in power in countries such as Hungary, Poland, Austria, Italy and Brazil. Research conducted by The Guardian in partnership with more than 30 political scientists shows that 1 in 4 Europeans now votes for populist parties.
Back in the U.S., immigration is where Trump’s rhetoric is particularly toxic. A Reuters/Ipsos poll from October revealed that immigration is now seen as the top issue for people likely to vote Republican, especially among those who are older and lack a college degree. Twenty-three percent of Republicans in that same poll said immigration was the “most important problem” facing the country, up from 4 percent in January 2012. Just five years ago, the issue wasn’t nearly so divisive. In 2013, the Senate passed an immigration bill with bipartisan support, something that is unlikely today.
Increasing racial polarization, which is an important element of America’s growing partisan divide, was reflected in the midterm elections. House Republicans elected in 2018 represent districts that are more white, less affluent and less well-educated than the national average, as well as more evangelical, rural and blue-collar. The Democratic coalition centers on minorities, young people and college-educated white voters — a growing demographic alliance that is seen as pushing the multicultural worldview that enrages white supremacists and roils their fears of “white genocide.”
Web Still a Handmaiden to Hate, Helping it Spread
Social media and the web continue to be a powerful tool to accelerate the spread of hate to the mainstream. But confusion still reigns across tech companies over how to police hateful content — and Silicon Valley, though it now realizes it must tackle the problem, is still failing to invest enough in removing hate from their platforms.
This industry-wide befuddlement over where to draw lines on deplatforming was highlighted by the mixed messages from different companies over removing infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Only after Apple CEO Tim Cook took the lead did others follow and remove Jones from their services (Cook has been a leader in ending hate online). Other groups, such as the self-described “Western chauvinist” Proud Boys — a hate group known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric — were able to stay on social media while engaging in violent street battles in West Coast cities. Only after the Proud Boys was involved in a widely covered street brawl in New York City in mid-October did the group lose its Facebook and PayPal accounts. But that was too late — the Proud Boys had already grown to 47 chapters by the end of 2018.
Certain tech leaders don’t seem to understand the seriousness of the hate on their platforms even in the face of domestic terrorist attacks perpetrated by white supremacists radicalized online. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this year claimed that Holocaust deniers weren’t intentionally getting their facts wrong. (Holocaust denial is perpetrated by a highly coordinated network of practitioners. Rehabilitating the Nazi regime’s legacy is just one crucial part of their larger goal to justify and perpetuate antisemitism.) Facebook itself even hired a PR firm that linked its critics to anti-George Soros conspiracy theories, which meld antisemitism with other forms of hate. (Soros, a billionaire who funds liberal causes, was one of the recipients of a mail bomb just before the midterm elections.)
As tech companies continue to try to clean up their platforms, other sites have popped up to pick up the deplatformed. Gab is the largest of these alternative sites, with about 800,000 members and 5 million page views a month. The site has very loose terms of service and is home to countless neo-Nazis and other extremists. It was on Gab that Robert Bowers posted his antisemitic hatred and interacted with others who agreed with him. There are other realms as well for those who want to hate: 4chan, 8chan, Discord chat rooms, some Reddit threads and more.
Hate groups themselves still run websites and forums with massive audiences. According to Alexa web traffic analytics, the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer site has about 4.3 million page views a month, and the oldest hate site, Stormfront, grabs 2.2 million a month.
The Rage Will Continue in 2019
Trump has fueled and exploited the backlash to the country’s changing diversity, but he did not create it. For more than a decade, hate groups have been angered and motivated by increasing numbers of nonwhite immigrants.
In the absence of major policy shifts to the hard right, such as the building of a border wall, the radical right is poised to continue seething over its fears of “white genocide” as it fearfully anticipates a multicultural wave washing it out.
This anger is heightened as tech companies deplatform extremists, which further frustrates those convinced they are being driven to extinction. As Spencer said last year, “At one point, say two years ago, Silicon Valley really was our friend … what has happened in terms of the Silicon Valley attacks on us are, just, really bad.” As extremists are pushed further to the margins online, their rage will likely grow.
Given these trends, there are no signs that the violence, which has been all too common over the past two decades, will let up. In fact, if the hate movement abandons politics as a solution to demographic change, as recent denunciations of Trump by prominent white supremacists seem to indicate, more angry lone wolves like Bowers may see violence as a solution.
Regardless of Trump’s future political fortunes, Trumpism — a form of race-based populism — is likely to be with us for many years to come as the nation continues to come to terms with its changing demographics and the impact of globalism.
Active Hate Groups in the United States — 2018
In 2018 the number of hate groups surged to 1,020, an all-time high. Here's a snapshot from the 2018 hate group listing.
White Nationalists, Neo-Nazis and the KKK
Much of the energy on the radical right this year was concentrated in the white supremacist milieu. After a lull that followed the violence in Charlottesville, which brought criminal charges and civil suits that temporarily dampened the radical right's activism and organizing, newer groups gathered momentum.
White supremacist groups birthed in the age of Trump, meaning after he announced his run for the presidency in June 2015, have thrived. Identity Evropa — a white nationalist group that tries to dress up its racism under the label "identitarianism" — saw its chapter count rise for the third year in a row, from one in 2016 to 15 in 2017 to 38 in 2018. The white nationalist blog and podcasting site The Right Stuff (TRS) started with four chapters in 2016 and now has 34. And the TRS offshoot focused on creating an independent South, Identity Dixie, which only began in 2017, has seven chapters now.
The violent neo-Nazi organization Atomwaffen Division, whose members are allegedly associated with as many as five known killings since May 2017, grew from one chapter in 2017 to 27 in 2018. SPLC was able to document that growth, in part because of the reporting efforts of ProPublica and Rolling Stone, which helped push the secretive, small group of young men further into public view.
The number of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapters continued to fall for the third year in a row, down to 51 chapters in 2018 from 130 in 2016. The KKK has not been able to appeal to younger racists, with its antiquated traditions, odd dress and lack of digital savvy. Younger extremists prefer Fred Perry polo shirts and khakis to Klan robes. It may be that the KKK, having somehow endured since 1866, is finally on its last legs.
Black nationalist hate groups make up about a quarter of the total number of hate group chapters in 2018. This sector has been growing for several years, and continued to do so last year, with an increase from 233 chapters in 2017 to 264 in 2016. Even with the growth, black nationalist groups lagged far behind the vast majority of groups that adhere to some form of white supremacist ideology.
Typically antisemitic, anti-LGBT and anti-white, these groups have been expanding in reaction to rising white supremacy, Trump's emboldening of racists and the administration's sharp turn away from police reform and civil rights. Trump calling African nations "shitholes" and attacking NFL players added more fuel to the fire. To capitalize on these events, the New Black Panther Party held a rally in Houston last year against the KKK and Trump. And the group's 2018 conference included a rally in front of the White House praising Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, denouncing Trump and calling for their own territory. In November, Farrakhan compared Trump to Satan.
Regardless, the environment for black nationalist groups is categorically different than it is for white hate groups. Unlike white hate groups, whose champions found themselves in influential White House positions over the past two years, black nationalists have little or no impact on mainstream politics and no defenders in high office.
The antigovernment "Patriot" movement saw its numbers decline in 2018, likely due to a friendly federal government that still serves its traditional role as the movement's sworn enemy. The number of such groups fell by about 12 percent, from 689 chapters in 2017 to 612 in 2018. Militias, which are the paramilitary wing of the antigovernment movement, were down from 273 in 2017 to 216 in 2018.
Unlike in prior years, the antigovernment movement had few politicized events to capitalize on, such as the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff and the 2016 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. With the administration acting as a fierce defender of gun rights and undermining federal land protections out West, antigovernment activist finally have an administration they can believe in — and less anger to tap into to build their ranks.
Civil war remains a common rallying cry, but the militia movement has shifted into predicting and readying for war against those who oppose President Trump, who they often lump into the categories of communists, socialists or antifa.
The militia movement spent much of 2018 readying for a supposed "invasion," hyped by Trump and his allies, at the U.S.-Mexico border. Despite the simpatico rhetoric between Trump and the "anti-invasion" border militia subculture, when active duty U.S. military units deployed to the Southern border in November, intelligence briefings warned U.S. troops about these "patriot soldiers," who have a history of stealing military equipment from locally deployed military units.
Some antigovernment extremists continued to radicalize offline, latching onto far-right rallies, such as those hosted by Patriot Prayer or the hate group the Proud Boys. This collaboration placed militia members, usually those identifying as Three Percenters (a loose network of gun rights extremists who subscribe to hardcore antigovernment conspiracy theories), in close proximity to hate groups — as was the case during the 2017 Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally.
Anti-immigrant hate groups coalesced around several issues in 2018: repealing birthright citizenship (the first clause in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution), limiting welfare use by immigrants, ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), curbing refugee admissions, eliminating temporary protected status (TPS), supporting Trump’s family separation policy, getting rid of the diversity visa lottery program, increasing deportations and repealing sanctuary laws across the country.
But it was the migrant caravan that drew unprecedented attention in the latter months of 2018. President Trump deployed around 5,000 troops to the border with Mexico to prevent asylum seekers, mostly from Central and South America, from entering the U. S. In repeated tweets attacking migrants, Trump described the migrants as “Stone cold criminals” and authorized the use of tear gas and “other lethal force” against them.
With help from a panel of pseudoscientific anti-LGBT “experts,” the White House issued a memo in March seeking to ban transgender troops from the military. Included on that panel was Tony Perkins of the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council, who has a long history of disparaging LGBT people. “If you’re a male — genetically you are a male, biologically you’re a male — and you say ‘Well, I’m not a male. I’m a female.’ I mean, what’s to keep you from saying you’re an animal?” Perkins said on his “Washington Watch” radio show last May. Obama-era policies recognizing gender identity in schools and prisons were rolled back. The State Department banned diplomatic visas for unmarried same-sex partners of diplomats or employees of international agencies who work in the U.S. The Department of Justice issued an amicus brief in support of a Colorado baker at the heart of the Masterpiece Cakeshop lawsuit against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission after the baker refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Trump continues to appoint staff with connections to anti-Muslim groups. Mike Pompeo was confirmed as secretary of state in April 2018 despite his connections to anti-Muslim figures like Frank Gaffney and Brigitte Gabriel. That same month Trump tapped John Bolton to be his national security adviser. A month later, Bolton hired Fred Fleitz of the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy (CSP) as his chief of staff. Fleitz left that role in October to return to CSP as the group’s president, replacing founder Frank Gaffney, who moved to an executive chairman position.
The anti-Muslim movement also continues to see policy success. In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban, delighting anti-Muslim hate groups. Trump originally relied on shoddy polling commissioned by CSP to justify the ban. The anti-Muslim hate group American Freedom Law Center authored an amicus brief in support of the ban, claiming the country is at war with “the kinetic militancy of jihadists, and the cultural challenge of anti-Western, anti-constitutional Islamic law and mores.”
Anti-Muslim groups were also active at the state and local level, with representatives from anti-Muslim hate groups continuing to push harmful anti-Sharia law bills.
More on anti-Muslim hate groups
The “Patriot” movement in the West had reason to celebrate in 2018. A U.S. District Judge dismissed charges against Cliven Bundy, his two sons Ammon and Ryan, and the head of a militia network stemming from their roles in the infamous Bunkerville standoff. And President Trump pardoned two ranchers whose sentencing was used by Ammon Bundy and a band of armed anti-public lands extremists to seize and occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. However, in Virginia, three militia groups that participated in the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally entered into consent decrees that barred the defendant militias and their leaders from returning to Charlottesville as an armed group.
Israel United in Christ, a Black Hebrew Israelite group, led an 800-person march in Tennessee on Aug. 4, 2018. Louis Farrakhan leveraged his attendance at Aretha Franklin’s funeral to legitimize himself and recruit new members by putting her on the cover of the group’s publication, The Final Call, and distributing 50,000 copies in Detroit, Michigan. The New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense hosted black men’s conferences and rallied in front of the White House to denounce Trump and praise Farrakhan.
Conferences and meetings were few, although the Church of Israel of Schell, Missouri, boasted on their website that their April 19 “Feast of the Passover” drew a record-breaking number of attendees.
On April 28, a Toronto man used a van to run down and kill 10 people. Prior to the attack, the man accused of the murders, who was steeped in online subcultures that make up the manosphere and the ideology of male supremacy, wrote a post claiming “the Incel Rebellion has already begun!”
A Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer rally in Portland, Oregon in June descended into a riot, and videos of the fighting went viral. The Proud Boys received a crush of new applicants in the wake of the violence.
In early November, two women were murdered by a man at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida. He had previously expressed sympathy for the plight of incel mass shooter Elliot Rodger. Incels,” or “involuntary celibates,” are part of the online male supremacist ecosystem. The Tallahassee killer’s alleged online profile and criminal record suggest a deep resentment of women and a past pattern of sexual misconduct.
The most visible Klan activities have been few and far between. Besides flyering campaigns in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia and a Sept. 1 rally in Madison, Indiana — which drew all of 12 Klan members — the most notable Klan news of 2018 involved a prison sentence. In August, Richard Preston, Imperial Wizard of the Confederate White Knights, was sentenced to eight years in prison with four years suspended for firing his weapon within 1,000 feet of a school at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
Three men charged in the parking garage beating of DeAndre Harris in 2017 faced jail time following their trials this year, and a fourth man, LOS member Tyler Watkins Davis, pleaded not guilty. He will go to trial in February 2019.
After the fallout from the violent rally, the LOS and several of its leaders signed a consent decree agreeing not to rally in Charlottesville as a group again.
Responding to internal pressure, LOS leader Michael Hill withdrew the organization from the Nationalist Front coalition, an alliance of various white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, in April. In December, the League announced it would no longer be allowed to host its conferences at the “Southern Cultural Center” in Wetumpka, Alabama, after a local chapter that owned the building broke from LOS.
In January, Samuel Woodward, who had connections to AWD, was arrested and charged in Orange County, California, with murdering Blaze Bernstein. ProPublica reported that AWD members praised Woodward for the murder on their Discord chat. One user called Woodward a “one man gay Jew wrecking crew.”
In May, reports surfaced that Vasillios Pistolis, who participated in the Charlottesville violence and was also associated with AWD, was an active duty Marine.
Traditionalist Worker Party, once an active and influential neo-Nazi hate group, disbanded after a bizarre love triangle among top leadership was revealed.
The League of the South dropped out of the Nationalist Front in August, leaving that coalition dead in the water.
In October, Robert Bowers, who was inspired by ideology popular among neo-Nazis, killed 11 at a Pittsburg synagogue. Also in November, a pair of Washington, D.C.-area brothers with ties to Vanguard America, Richard Spencer and others made headlines after one brother killed himself and the other was arrested following a tirade about Bowers’ victims.
In California, the Hammerskin Nation and Crew 38 held two hate music shows, one in April and another, Hammerfest, in October.
On July 7, in Pennsylvania, two members of the Keystone United racist skinhead crew allegedly assaulted an African-American man in an Avalon bar. In the early hours of Dec. 8, eight people of various racist skinhead crew affiliations were arrested after police said they attacked a DJ, who is black, and harassed him with racial slurs in an Oregon bar.
The New Jersey-based Aryan Strikeforce has been crippled this year by federal drug charges against six of their members, with four members taking plea deals in 2018.
Richard Spencer’s college tour came to an end, and Jason Kessler’s attempt at a second “Unite the Right” rally was a dismal failure. However, other groups such as Identity Evropa, Patriot Front and the League of the South continued to hold rallies and banner drops. But more than ever, 2018 was the year white nationalists drew blood. From the Parkland, Florida, shooting of 17 students in February, to the massacre of 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October, white nationalists or those inspired by white nationalism have committed violence at an alarming rate, killing at least 40 people in North America this year alone.
More on white nationalist hate groups