University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


Professor Dean Robinson comments on the visibility of hate groups under President Trump

Number of hate groups down, but social media increases visibility

Posted: Aug 14, 2017 5:39 PM 

By Mary Cate Mannion

BELCHERTOWN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Communities across the country are reacting to the visibility of hate groups in their own cities and towns.

Investigators said Monday that it's still not clear who dropped off "The Crusader", a newspaper run by the KKK. in a Belchertown neighborhood.  

Police also noted that at this time, there isn't a criminal investigation as no crime was committed and they don't want to give further attention to the hate group. 

That's something that residents said they agree with. 

It was a quiet Monday in one Belchertown neighborhood, just a week after "The Crusader" was dropped off at people's homes. 

Those who live here told Western Mass News that they don't want to give further attention to the hate group's paper, particularly in the wake of a violent and deadly weekend in Charlottesville, VA where a group of white nationalists, including the KKK, rallied against plans to remove a Confederate statue. 

The group was met by counter-protesters, sparking violence, which culminated in a woman being run over as she crossed the street 

"That's terrible stuff.  I keep hoping we can get away from that in this country.  There's too much hate and I think it's increased since last November," said John Holdsworth

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said that the number of Klan-related groups is actually at a 14 year low.  However, their visibility appears to have increased. 

"The visibility of the movement has increased under a trump administration who has spoken against issues like immigration and has been seen as friendly to the alt-right," said Professor Dean Robinson with the UMass Department of Political Science.

Robinson said that social media and visibility campaigns, like dropping off newspapers, has re-branded an older movement of white supremacy. 

"Oftentimes, you'll see a surge in white nationalism during periods of widening economic inequality.  Instead of blaming corporations for bad public policy, white nationalists and the alt-right will blame immigrants, blacks in the U.S.  They will blame LGBT communities," Robinson explained.

With a growing divide in economics and in politics, Robinson said that the main campaigns of white supremacy groups run deep in our country's history. 

"I think the visibility of the alt-right has made it clear that we are not in a post-racial society that everybody we were in the election of President Obama," Robinson noted.

Meantime, in Belchertown, police said that as the KKK newspapers fall under the First Amendment, there is no criminal investigation underway. 

"I don't think things like that have a place in this country or in the world for that matter and certainly not here in Belch3rtown," Holdsworth added.

We reached out to the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, which launched a new hotline for residents to report incidents of harassment and intimidation last fall. 

As of yet, they have not said if they are investigating the incident in Belchertown. 

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

News Type: 

  • Faculty News