Understanding White Supremacy in the US Today: 10 Brief Facts

By Cat Cronin, Researcher at Talking About Terrorism.



1. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of white nationalist groups in the US has increased from 100 in 2017 to 148 in 2018. The number of demonstrations and rallies have increased from 76 to 91 in the same time period.


2. Recent white supremacy activities include the 2015 Charleston attack (9 deaths) on a black church, the 2017 Charlottesville rally ( 3 deaths) and car attack, the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting ( 11 deaths), and the 2019 El Paso shooting (22 deaths).


3. Recently, white supremacists have been responsible for more deaths than any other type of domestic extremism. In the last 10 years, they have been responsible for 54% of all domestic extremist-related murders.


4. As such, according to the FBI, white-supremacist terrorism is the largest domestic-terrorist threat in the US. The FBI’s investigations on domestic terrorism focuses on examining the violent acts themselves, not the ideology or motivation behind the attacks.


5. President Trump has condemned white supremacy, but there is still no comprehensive strategy to deal with the issue. Some argue that the Trump administration has moved backwards by cutting staff and funding for programs that focus on domestic terrorism.


6. There are several white supremacist deradicalization programs that have seen some success. For example, Life After Hate is a non-profit founded by former neo-Nazis and members of other hate groups to help people leave extremist groups. So far, the group has helped hundreds of people exit groups and reintegrate into society.


7. One country that offers a good example for the US to follow to combat far-right extremism and white supremacy is Germany. German organizations focus on grassroots outreach and aim to intervene with vulnerable populations before they become radicalized.


8. This year, Canada added two far-right extremist groups (Blood & Honour and Combat 18) to its list of foreign terror organizations. If the US were to add white supremacy groups to its list of terrorist organizations, the designation would allow law enforcement more ways to investigate and prosecute American extremists.


9. White supremacy is defined as “the notion that the white race itself is threatened with imminent extinction, doomed–unless white supremacists take action.” The concept that white people are superior to and should dominate other races was prevalent in the US around the time of the Civil War, particularly in the antebellum South, and has seen a resurgence in the last few years after Donald Trump announced his candidacy in the 2016 Presidential election. However, white supremacy remains a global problem.


10. White nationalism consists of various groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, and racist skinheads. Currently, it is largely driven by the rise of the alt right, which is the “newest segment of the white supremacist movement.”

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© 2017 by Talking About Terrorism.