Two weeks ago, someone managed to hack into campus printers and fax machines at more than a dozen universities across the country to print a flyer with an anti-Semitic, white supremacist message.
“White man are you sick and tired of the Jews destroying your country through mass immigration and degeneracy?” said the one-page flyer, which included two swastikas. “Join us in the struggle for global white supremacy at The Daily Stormer.”
Shortly thereafter, Andrew Anglin, the creator of the notorious neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, said that Andrew Auernheimer, a white supremacist hacker known as “weev,” was behind the hack.
This isn’t the first time the Daily Stormer has targeted college campuses. In fact, its entire mission seems to be disseminating a white supremacist message to Internet-savvy young people.
Last year, in the wake of student protests at the University of Missouri over university administrators’ lack of response to repeated racist incidents, legions of Anglin’s followers, known as “Stormers,” began seeding fake stories about White Student Unions being founded on college campuses nationwide. Unfortunately, not all of those reports were false. One such chapter at Cornell University has already received a stipend from the Daily Stormer to promote its racist agenda.
The attempt to stir racial divisions on college campuses is just one more sign of the growing extremism in our country. Earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that 892 hate groups were operating across the country – a 14% increase over the past year.
Hate speech, of course, is protected by the First Amendment. But we can certainly push back against it. The fact is, it’s often a precursor to violence. The SPLC has seen over many years that the vilification of minority groups can incite or embolden violent white supremacists or other extremists to commit hate crimes or even terror attacks, like the one in Charleston last year that left nine African Americans dead at a church famous for its role in the civil rights movement.
Just days after Auernheimer hacked into university printers, students at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., woke up to a swastika painted on their campus landmark, the Rock – a large centerpiece on campus where it is a senior tradition to paint vibrantly colored messages to their classmates. Students acted quickly to cover the swastika.
While such a terrifying symbol of hate has been covered, and the Daily Stormer’s flyers are likely now in waste bins, a single weekend has reminded us of some important lessons.
College campuses are not islands removed from the rest of society. Hate in the mainstream breeds hate everywhere, in rhetoric and action. These most recent incidents remind us that bigotry is alive and well, and must be actively engaged in all forms and at all levels of society.
For free resources and staff support, check out SPLC on Campus.