Words Have Consequences: Hate Groups Change Their Strategy, Attacks on Canvassers

In a piece by Marisol Bello, USA Today reports that white supremacist groups are increasingly targeting middle America to ramp up their membership by going more "mainstream" and at least appearing to be rational:

The USA's largest neo-Nazi group is ditching its trademark brown Nazi uniform with swastika armband for a more muted look in black fatigues.

In Pennsylvania, the Keystone State Skinheads is changing its name to Keystone United to attract members.

From 2006 to 2007, the number of such groups rose by 5% to 888, says the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks them through news reports and other sources. The number is up 48% since 2000. The SPLC has shown that most of these hate groups are part of one national network, founded by the same man and funded by the same entity.

A group within the hate network, Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and allied organizations have initiated an ad campaign to argue that overpopulation and over-immigration threaten the national water supply.

Don Black, founder of Stormfront, the country's largest white power website, is a former member of the KKK, and his son Derek helps him with this endeavor. What's frightening about this new approach is that Derek was just elected to sit on Palm Beach County, Fla., Republican committee.

As we've said before, hateful rhetoric can have severe consequences - the day after McCain said in the final presidential debate that ACORN "may be perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history" and "destroying the fabric of democracy," ACORN offices in Boston and Seattle were vandalized, and computers the group uses in "get out the vote"efforts were stolen. In Rhode Island, a female ACORN staffer received a telephone call from a man making racial epithets who said he knew what time she got off work. An Obama canvasser from the Chicago area was the one assaulted -- allegedly grabbed by the neck and struck in the head -- in Wisconsin by a man apparently angry at ACORN. Click here to hear the whole horrible series of attacks and threats made to Sen. Obama and ACORN, recorded on ACORN voicemail.

Ignorance and prejudice has a price: while on Chris Matthews's show, incumbent Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota's 6th district made some remarks that the media should perform a witch hunt to determine which members of Congress are "pro-America or anti-America." Her comments so incensed her primary opponent, Aubrey Immelman, that he decided to jump into the race as a write-in candidate, declaring himself to be an "alternative for disillusioned Republicans." At the same time, Bachmann's nonsense provided her Democratic opponent, El Tinklenberg, fuel with which he raised $438,000 in the twenty-four hours following her remarks. We'll see if people like Rep. Robin Hayes don't suffer the same fate. He is locked in a tight re-election race in NC and recently known for stating that "liberals hate real Americans," providing the latest in a string of comments from Republicans that appear to question Democrats' patriotism. This follows Sarah Palin's suggestion that she only likes to travel to "Pro-America parts of this great nation," and McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer's contention that Northern Virginia did not represent 'real Virginia' because of the influx of Democrats to the region in recent years. What are these people trying to achieve by bringing "hate" into the debate, and trying to fabricate division and differences?

People should be afraid, but afraid of what hate groups can achieve if voters don't know a candidates' background - Robert L. Duecaster helps lead a nativist extremist group in Virginia and regularly makes defamatory comments about Catholics, Muslims and undocumented immigrants, calling the latter in a blog post "an invasion of parasites set on reducing this country to the levels of their own." But all that didn't stop the Prince William (Va.) Board of County Supervisors from appointing him to a committee that will influence county decision making on human services policy and budget priorities. After a closed-door discussion,the board voted 5-3 to approve Duecaster's nomination to the Human Services Strategic Goals Task Force, which will develop a roadmap for the next four years of human services planning. Duecaster is secretary of Help Save Manassas, an anti-immigration group that has spawned other "Help Save" chapters in Virginia and Maryland.

Also in Virginia, Bill White of Roanoke, Va., discussed his political predicament as the leader of one of the nation's more established neo-Nazi groups:

"Right now," said Mr. White, the head of the American National Socialist Workers Party, "we're facing the potential of a half-black candidate financed by Jewish money going up against a white candidate financed by Jewish money, who are both advocating the same policy. So you've got two terrible choices."

If the above appalls you, that's a good thing. There is no place for hate in the democratic process, as it is a threat to everyone. For all their big words, these groups have miniscule membership, but we should all be cognizant of potential hostility during this election. Please be aware of your rights as a voter, and sign up for updates from your local election protection office. It is up to all of us to safeguard this democratic process and not allow it to be vandalized by the most ignorant and hateful surrounding us.


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