BEG: Rise of white supremacy calls for campus action

White+supremacist+propaganda+incidents+have+increased+in+the+United+States%2C+on+and+off+college+campuses.+Graphic+via+Anti-Defamation+League.+

White supremacist propaganda incidents have increased in the United States, on and off college campuses. Graphic via Anti-Defamation League.

A new report released earlier this week by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism stated that in the past year, the distribution of white supremacist propaganda has increased by 120%. White supremacist propaganda is material that uses printed media to discriminate against other races, religions, the LGBTQ+ community and other minority groups.

The Anti-Defamation League is a nongovernmental organization founded to stop the defamation of Jewish people, but it continues to ensure fair treatment and justice to all United States citizens through its work.

The rise comes after a 180% rise in white supremacist propaganda between 2017 and 2018. This means that this is the second year in a row in which the distribution of white supremacist propaganda has doubled. The report outlines a total of 2,713 cases of the circulation of this kind of propaganda in the last year. Flyers, posters and banners are all classified as white propaganda under the ADL.

This kind of propaganda enables white supremacists to take advantage of media and online attention without facing direct consequences for their actions. Groups that publicize this material understand these posters will garner attention from the surrounding community members because of the extreme messages.

Their messages are shared to many individuals through different platforms like the media and the internet by posting photos of the printed propaganda. At the same time, supremacists can avoid conflict because of the inability to directly track down those who put them up.

It “limits the risk of individual exposure, negative media coverage, arrests and public backlash that that often accompanies more public events,” according to ADL’s Extremism report. The abundance of these defamatory messages attempts to normalize and rationalize the ignorant attitudes of supremacists onto the American public.

A large portion of these supremacist incidents occurred on college campuses in the last year. 433 different colleges were reported to have distribution of ignorant propaganda materials occur on their campus.

Campuses are an easy target for flyers, posters and banners. It seems like wherever there is open wall space, a poster will be hung up advertising a certain club, event or organization. White supremacists can easily blend their deceivingly appropriate poster in with the other thousands of flyers printed around campuses without receiving any sort of punishment.

Colleges are also home to thousands of students who walk miles every day and are exposed to the variety of content hung around the campus. The immediate audience alone is motivation enough for supremacy groups to target the younger generation. These efficient and anonymous methods of spreading hateful messages to a mass amount of people are dangerous and harmful to the groups affected by them.

The distribution of white supremacy material is clearly a significant issue in recent years. It is more than just a few ignorant incidents. Rather, college campuses all over the country are affected by this phenomenon.

Marquette University must do its part to ensure that they prevent this disease from spreading to Milwaukee. As a college campus, Marquette is vulnerable and susceptible to the spread of supremacist ideas.

But it cannot be tolerated.

The university must take reports and complaints seriously. They need to take action when minority students from various communities are reporting about the discrimination they face on this campus. If the administration fails to adequately address these problem or the incidents, it may discourage minorities from reporting them in fear of not getting taken seriously. It will build resentment and discomfort that will make the campus feel even more unwelcoming to those affected.

Administrators should truly listen to the students instead of replying with the same automated messages of formality that are meant to make people feel better. Marquette could also create a requirement that posters hung up by students must be approved by a council before being posted across campus. That way at least one other person can read the material to look for any defamatory content.  There are real, institutional changes that can be made within the structure of Marquette, but it is the job of the administration to really care about them.

Minorities must be able to feel like they can report about discriminatory situations and that action will be taken against those individuals that were hurtful no matter if they are students or employees.

Ignorant and racist rhetoric is projected constantly across various communities. Marquette University is not safe from the epidemic that is the spread of white supremacy. One example is that a student “air dropped” a photo of a group of boys holding guns to an African American doll’s head. The student was expelled before the fall 2018 semester. It is the job of the university to take this problem seriously and prevent the message in our community.

This story was written by Aminah Beg. She can be reached at aminah.beg@marquette.edu.