Using fake names and fictional avatars, people devoted to hate and extremism exude courage and commitment to their causes online. But that changes when the world learns their real names. In the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Intelligence Report, the magazine’s feature story exposes the impact of fighting hate with sunlight.
"Identity Unmasked" examines how a small Facebook campaign predicated on keeping Confederate monuments in place morphed into a group of more than 200 ardent, secretive secessionists. Calling themselves Identity Dixie, they plot to make the South a separate nation. The leadership of the group was recently revealed by the SPLC.
"We didn’t hesitate to publicize the names of leaders in the neo-Confederate group Identity Dixie," said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, which publishes the Intelligence Report. "The group misuses religion to support white nationalist beliefs. Tech companies aren’t doing enough to stop the spread of this rhetoric, so it is critical that we remove the ability to hide behind anonymity."
The magazine also investigates the fall from grace of leaders within a prominent anti-Muslim hate group. Another story brings to light a rift between two SPLC-designated anti-LGBTQ hate groups.
Other stories include:
- "Spurned & Burned": SPLC-designated hate group ACT for America has been pushing an anti-Muslim agenda for over a decade. It now claims to have a “direct line” to the White House. Yet, since 2017, several prominent chapter leaders have either resigned or been pushed out of the organization after disagreements with its national leadership.
- "Out of the Darkness": A 2018 study estimates that nearly 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the U.S. have received conversion therapy during their lives, and nearly 80,000 LGBTQ youths will receive some form of it before they reach age 18. More and more leaders, of the “ex-gay movement,” however, are leaving it and repudiating conversion practices.
The full report — including deeper investigations into the border militia United Constitutional Patriots and the bomb plot to kill Muslims and Somalis — can be read at splcenter.org.