- Policy Resources
- News & Analysis
- Your State
Eye on the Right: Anti-Immigrant Groups and White Supremacists Flounder, Attempt to Rebrand for Wider Appeal
Caroline Fan on October 24, 2008 - 11:00am
The anti-immigrant "movement" has been flailing recently. With donor fraud and embezzlement fueling the splintering of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, and dysfunction and check-bouncing at their previous partner organization, the Minutemen Project, anti-immigrant organizations are seeing dissent and confusion rule their ranks.
Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minutemen Project, regrets his involvement in building a group that attracts people with "sinister intentions," saying "I have found, after four years in this movement [that] I very well may have been fighting for people with less character and less integrity than the ”˜open border fanatics' I have been fighting against. And that is a phenomenal indictment of something I have created." The founder of one of the most anti-immigrant groups admitting the failures in the movement he created, just highlights what Progressive States Network documented in our report The Anti-Immigrant Movement that Failed.
Right now white supremacist groups seem to be at a crossroads. William White, the self-proclaimed leader of the neo-Nazi group the American National Socialist Workers Party was just recently arrested for posting online the name and home address of a Chicago juror. The juror served in the trial of white supremacist Matthew Hale, who was convicted of soliciting the murder of a federal judge. Meanwhile, hate groups have been mostly quiet around the election and seem bewildered by the possibility of an Obama presidency.
While there have been sporadic reports of Obama signs defaced with swastikas, and reports of racist threats shouted at campaign rallies, what is more insidious are the steps that white supremacist organizations are taking against immigrants, and to put on a friendlier face for a broader audience. "Many white supremacist groups are going more mainstream," says Jack Levin, a Northeastern University criminologist who studies hate crime. "The groups realize if they want to be attractive to middle-class types, they need to look middle-class." They may be trying to appeal to the middle class and boost membership, but as Jeff Schoep, the leader of the National Socialist Movement, the nation's largest neo-Nazi group, argued recently, the goal is to use "this immigrant thing" to recruit new members.
Hate groups have also been reaching out to teens through white power bands which the Center for a New Community has been tracking.