What are the Demographic Characteristics of the White Supremacist Movement?

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August 6, 1999

Numbers

· In 1998, 537 active hate groups were identified in the U.S.

· While it is difficult to estimate the often-concealed membership of these groups, the general membership in white supremacist organizations is estimated to be between 100,000-200,000 (Southern Poverty Law Center 1999).

Diversity of the movement

· Some white supremacy groups have organized meetings and rallies, others simply communicate over the internet.

· While numerous groups have become increasingly violent, like the skinheads, other white supremacists have moved further into the mainstream, like David Duke, who has served as a state senator, and more recently Matt Hale, who is seeking admission to the Illinois Bar (Benjamin Smith was a member of Hale's World Church of the Creator).

Recruitment Tools

· The white supremacist movement offers itself as an antidote to many of today's fears, promising to empower people who feel powerless.

· The white supremacist movement seemingly offers white men the chance to prove their masculinity. White men are attacked throughout white supremacist literature for becoming feminized, and are encouraged to become real men by becoming white supremacists, who will stand up to protect white women and take over the world for white people.

· White supremacists are increasingly turning to the internet to recruit members and spread hate. Far more people read white supremacist publications than actually join organizations, and with the advent of the internet their ideas are reaching a far wider audience than ever before.

· The Anti-Defamation League has documented at least 2,000 "hate sites" on the internet.

· Hate groups have targeted their message towards children and teens, with colorful kids' websites filled with games and cartoons.

· The growth of white-power music also helps to attract teens; there are thousands of CDs available by bands like White Terror and Nordic Thunder.

· Recruitment efforts have increasingly targeted women (Blee 1996).

References

Blee, Kathleen. 1996. "Becoming a Racist: Women in Contemporary Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi Groups." Gender and Society 10, no. 6 (December): 680-702.

Southern Poverty Law Center. 1999. Intelligence Report. Issue 93, winter.

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