Mar 7, 2022 - News

Pennsylvania sees rise in hateful propaganda

White supremacist propaganda incidents in Pennsylvania
Data: Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism. Chart: Axios

Pennsylvania had the highest level of white supremacist propaganda incidents in 2021, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League.

Driving the news: Incidents of white supremacist propaganda distribution dropped slightly nationwide last year, going from 5,125 in 2020 to 4,851, according to the report from ADL’s Center on Extremism.

  • Yes, but: Antisemitic propaganda incidents in the U.S. jumped 27% over the previous year.

Why it matters: Spreading hate via propaganda allows a small number of people to have an outsized impact by giving the appearance of larger numbers and affecting entire communities, according to the report.

  • “Propaganda campaigns let white supremacists maximize media and online attention while limiting the risk of individual exposure, negative media coverage, arrests and public backlash that often accompanies more public activities,” according to the report.

By the numbers: The Keystone State had 473 reports of hateful propaganda reported last year, which nearly doubled from 2020 (239), according to the ADL.

  • Pennsylvania topped Virginia (375), Texas (327) and Massachusetts (272) in reported incidents, according to the report.

Zoom in: Philadelphia had the most reports of hateful propaganda distributed for any municipality in the state — 24 — of which four were labeled as antisemitic, according to the report.

  • Bethlehem had 14 incidents. Stroudsburg and State College each had nine, and Pittsburg had five.

Of note: The ADL, which began tracking this data in 2017, counted only incidents in which multiple or hundreds of fliers were canvassed across a neighborhood on a given day as a single incident.

Between the lines: Patriot Front, which the ADL labels as a white supremacist group and was responsible for more than 82% of all incidents nationally, was most active in Pennsylvania and a handful of other states, including Texas and Massachusetts, according to the report.

  • Patriot Front held a flash demonstration in July in Philadelphia — one of the nation’s two largest such rallies last year.
  • In November 2021, propaganda from the White Lives Matter network was distributed at a synagogue in Philly.

What to watch: Propaganda will continue to be the “go-to tactic for white supremacist groups” this year, according to the report.


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