Study: Mass. ranks second in number of white supremacist propaganda incidents

Study: Mass. ranks second in number of white supremacist propaganda incidents
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 2:11 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Some new and disturbing data released this week by the Anti-Defamation League showed a nationwide surge in white supremacist propaganda in 2022, with Massachusetts ranking second highest in the nation.

“It’s very startling…The commonwealth is such a diverse place all the way from here in western Massachusetts to the Boston area that you wouldn’t find these sort of things on a regular basis,” said Bobby Naimark with the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts.

Naimark reacted Wednesday to the latest hate numbers coming out of the Anti-Defamation League for 2022, which showed Massachusetts second to Texas with the highest incidents. In taking a closer look at the ADL’s ‘Hate, Extremism, Antisemitism, Terrorism (H.E.A.T.) map,’ we see a breakdown state-by-state, which showed incidents of antisemitism and white supremacist propaganda and events.

Specifically, in Massachusetts in 2022, there were 98 antisemitic incidents, 465 reports of white supremacist propaganda, and 24 white supremacist events. The overall numbers were boosted by a near doubling of white supremacist propaganda from the year before. Neimark said that the federation is taking action against the rise in hate with its newly formed Jewish equity, diversity, and inclusion committee, which began work in January.

“It’s a wonderful initiative from our Jewish Federations of North America be able to make our own Jewish communities more diverse and more welcoming to others who have felt left out in the past,” Neimark explained.

The federation’s CEO, Nora Gorenstein, told Western Mass News that this general topic was brought up at the general assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.

“We do prize freedom of speech and freedom of expression in the United States, but the question is, really, where do we draw that line and making it very clear to the public in general that that type of hate and oppressive speech is not welcome,” Gorenstein said.

With a background in English literature, Gorenstein also said she is worried about the lack of context and how certain topics are taught to young people.

“We’re preventing children from having the opportunity to learn from those books and realize that they can be critical readers and critical consumers of media,” Gorenstein explained.

The federation hopes their efforts will lead to change in the coming year.