When Hate Comes to Your Town

–Engaging White Supremacist Groups Where You Live

Not a week goes by without hate crimes making national news — which is bad news for America. The headlines are harrowing. Consider two media reports this week:

Law enforcement officials characterize some egregious hate crimes by white supremacists as acts of domestic terrorism, as FBI Director Christopher Wray recently told Congress:

A majority of the racially motivated violent extremist domestic terrorism is at the hands of white supremacists.

— FBI Director

The persistent problem of hate crimes by white supremacist groups appears to be getting worse, not better. This is cause for concern for all law-abiding citizens and people of goodwill. That’s why a new book extensively examining the issue is a must-read: When Hate Groups March Down Main Street: Engaging a Community Response (Roman & Littlefield). Co-authors and Marc Brenman present a disturbingly vivid account of the historical evolution of hate groups and their radical racist ideology. The book also provides smart citizen engagement strategies. Both authors are nationally-recognized experts in the fields of diversity and inclusion, cultural competence, social justice, and equal opportunity.

  • “Our goal is to utilize the Big Data of this new environment by organizing the information, tracking trends, reporting on community responses, and recommending strategies that are practical and implementable,” the authors write.
  • “By learning what others have done and from scholarly and academic studies, we hope to equip communities to protect themselves and preserve democratic values and the American Dream of social equity and fairness.”

How would you react if neo-Nazis or the KKK demonstrated in your town, perhaps on the street where you live just feet outside your home?

  • Would you run or hide from KKK incited violence?
  • Would you ignore neo-Nazi propaganda?
  • Would you confront racist skinheads wielding tiki torches?

These potentially perilous questions should not be ignored. Although a hyper-localized extremist hate march directly affecting you may appear remote, “The threat is real” — as the authors astutely articulate.

Disturbing Trend

If you think radical white supremacists won’t demonstrate where you live, then you may want to think again. Just ask the citizens of Charlottesville, Virginia, or countless other cities from coast to coast and border to border where racial, religious and ethnic hatred and violence have surfaced at the hands of white supremacist groups.

Hate crimes increased by nearly 20% in 2017, according to the latest FBI data available.

More recent reports suggest this figure may rise again when new annual statistics are issued. Moreover, the number of hate crimes officially reported represent only part of the picture, as many incidents are unreported or incorrectly classified for various reasons. Consider recent data from a 2019 report on hate crimes in 30 big cities across America (conducted by The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University):

  • “Hate crimes rose 9 percent in major U.S. cities in 2018, for a fifth consecutive increase, to decade highs, as cities with increases outnumbered those with declines two to one. In contrast, crime overall in major cities has declined in both of the last two years.”
  • “Preliminary partial year 2019 data also show increases in a majority of cities surveyed…early double-digit percentage increases.”
  • “The most common victims for hate crime reported to police in major cities in 2018 were African Americans, Jews, and Gays, but Whites and Jews experienced the biggest percentage increases, as anti-Semitic hate crimes and assaults also rose internationally.”
  • “Jews were the direct target of half of the bias/extremist homicides in 2018, in the worst year ever for anti-Semitic killings in the United States.”

As Levine and Brenman point out in When Hate Groups March Down Main Street:

  • “Neo-Nazis and related hate groups desire a country or a state reserved only for whites who practice their perverted form of Christianity.
  • “They want to revert to a time of segregated schools and housing. No locale is too big or too small to be a target for their message.”

The racism promoted by these [hate] groups is intended to generate fear and hatred of immigrants and people of color.

When Hate Groups March Down Main Street – AMERICAN DIVERSITY REPORT CHATTANOOGA, TN. – As the alarming number of hate groups and hate crimes continues to surge nationwide, the American…

Comprehensive Content

The comprehensive topics covered by chapter title in When Hate Groups March Down Main Street include:

  1. The Local-Global Context
  2. Hate and Neo-Nazis
  3. Hate and White Supremacists
  4. The Hate Message Online
  5. Hate Crime Connection
  6. Corporate and Legal Context
  7. Community Organizing
  8. Recruitment and Radicalization
  9. What Is Our Moral Obligation?
  10. Globalization and Economic Disparities
  11. Bias, Prejudice, and Hate
  12. The Special Responsibility of Schools
  13. Holocaust Education
  14. Interfaith Efforts

Additionally, the book contains 11 appendices to help foster an effective community response to hate groups, including:

  • Example of Anti-Nazi Resolution
  • Sample Hate Crimes Policy
  • Sample Bias Incident Response Protocol
  • Bomb Threat Check List

The topic of hate groups is especially relevant at a time when some assert that President Trump allegedly supports and condones hate crimes against citizens and non-citizens alike based on race, religion, sexual identity and national origin (whether explicitly or implicitly).

Remember that hate groups thrive on spreading lies, conspiracy theories, distortions and misinformation to their cult-like followers and potential recruits, including unknowingly to teens and children online.

Remain vigilant and don’t fall prey to reprehensible rhetoric and racist tactics of white supremacists.

Final Thoughts

When Hate Groups March Down Main Street is a critically important book at a critically important time. More people of goodwill can benefit from a meticulous educational overview of the origins, ideology, and evolution of hate groups and their callous crimes. The authors share key statistics, case studies, legal and anecdotal evidence, as well as practical leadership lessons and strategies for a new generation of young people, and people of all ages, to combat heinous hate groups.

Again, as the authors suggest, ask yourself the following about extreme white supremacist groups who may come to your town to cause trouble:

“Are you prepared to handle their intimidation, threats, and actions?”

If not, the time is overdue to get ready.


David B. Grinberg
David B. Grinberg
David is a strategic communications consultant, ghostwriter, and literary PR agent on issues of workforce diversity, equal employment opportunity, race and gender equity, and other social justice causes. He is a former career spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where he managed media relations for agency headquarters and 50 field offices nationwide for over a decade. Prior to his public service at the EEOC, David was a young political appointee for President Bill Clinton in the White House: Office of Presidential Personnel, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A native New Yorker and University of Maryland graduate, David began his career in journalism. You can find David online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Good Men Project, Thrive Global, BIZCATALYST 360°, and American Diversity Report.

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  1. David, interesting article. I agree with the disturbing rise of attacks within our country, and I have a question. In reading this, I see the focus on White Supremicst groups. Would you not consider Antifa the same? or perhaps our young millenials who want to destroy parts of the Consitution to make it their own? Your foucs on just “White Supremicst groups should be broadened I feel. Our country as it is is being attacked in many ways and yes we should all be concerned. As you stated above:

    “Remember that hate groups thrive on spreading lies, conspiracy theories, distortions and misinformation to their cult-like followers and potential recruits, including unknowingly to teens and children online.”

    Antifa, Islamic Muslim groups, Far Leftist who want to engrain socialism into our youg, KKK, and any other group that seeks to terriorise, disrupt, and destroy what is good.

    Thank you for this article.

    • Lynn: Thanks so much for taking the time to share your important insights, with which I agree. Hate crimes, hate speech, unlawful actions and violence, in general, are reprehensible regardless of the perpetrators. No one and no group is immune from the law or above the law. Ditto that for societal standards and norms of common decency.

      However, the focus of this article was on a specific book about specific hate crimes committed by specific groups: white supremacists, neo-Nazis, racist skinheads and other far right-wing extremist groups. That certainly does not mean that hate speech and related violence are exclusive to those groups; it only means that the groups named were the subject and focus of the specific book I reviewed.

      I appreciate your valuable feedback and constructive points. I hope this response helps to clarify my position and put the larger issue in an unequivocally clear context. Thank you!

    • Thank you David for the clarity. I apologize if I read way too fast, not focusing on the exact score of your article as it relates to the book. I still say,
      great insight and thank you!

  2. These statistics are both sobering and sickening, David. I’m also disturbed by Joel’s comments about his personal experiences as well as yours. I just had a conversation with a young lady who is dating a Latino boy and her mother is opposed because she feels her daughter needs to “preserve the white race.” There was more to it, but that was the essence. It was a difficult conversation to have. Here is a seemingly lovely woman who has such a hateful perspective about skin color and how to treat our fellow man. Although I have not personal experienced the racism that you describe here, I’m outraged that in 2019, we are still having these discussions.

    David, as always, you provide such a comprehensive look at the data. Thank you for sharing.

    • Melissa: I’m grateful for your meaningful engagement, which always adds value. Thanks so much for taking the time to read, comment and share this article.

      Coincidentally, the FBI released the latest hate crimes data this week for 2018 — and the news is still highly troubling. The New York Times reported:

      “Personal attacks motivated by bias or prejudice reached a 16-year high in 2018, the FBI said Tuesday, with a significant upswing in violence against Latinos and a drop in assaults targeting Muslims and Arab-Americans.”

      It’s deeply disturbing that some whites view an increasingly diverse society as a threat to them personally — this is simply nonsense, as diversity benefits everyone — as a plethora of business and educational studies clearly show.
      It doesn’t help, or course, to have an unethical and arguably dangerous American President who only adds fuel to the fire of encouraging and emboldening white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups. We all need to more closely focus on our inherent similarities, not our superficial differences.

      As you know, for example, every human has about 99.9% of the same DNA. It’s only a small fraction of genetic mutations that account for disparities in skin color, etc. Your writing on issues of diversity from a neuroscience perspective greatly helps shed more light on this pressing issue.

      Thanks for all you do!

  3. David, this is a relevant and timely article, and as Joel mentioned, also long overdue. So, thank you for bringing it to us here. I have to admit that sometimes I turn off the news because it is so discouraging to see and hear about the prevalence of hate crimes. I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand the wiring of some humans and why such tragedies persist in our world. But they do. However, I’m thankful for writers like you who bring these issues to light and open up the conversation. Especially since talking about it and opening up the doors makes it real, and at some point, we are bound to have conversations that help us find answers.

    There’s no doubt that we need more kindness, understanding, and love in our world. But we also need to be diligent about raising awareness. Education is essential, sharing information and experiences too. Diversity is a blessing, and embracing it can only help move us closer to less hate and more kindness. It’s a stretch I know, but underneath the skin we wear, we are all skeletons. I only hope that one day, we realize how much we can all positively impact the world. Small steps make a difference.

    • Laura: Thanks so much for commenting, it’s always a pleasure to receive your valuable feedback.

      Unfortunately, as I write this reply, people in San Clarita, CA, are reeling from the latest abhorrent school shooting. Although it might not be a “hate crime” by definition per se, this is nonetheless a senseless act of extreme violence against innocent young people. When will our elected leaders at the national, state and local levels enact smart and sensible gun laws to curb the carnage?

      I agree with you that an open and constructive dialogue is one key action to enhance education and awareness, encourage vigilance, and foster more mutual understanding among people of different races, religions, national origins, sexual identities, etc. A constructive and mutually beneficial dialogue needs to occur both online and in person.

      On a lighter note, I happy to attest to your enlightening outspokenness as a positive change agent for society. And, yes, every journey begins with a single step. So let’s get more people of goodwill moving in the right direction. Thanks again for taking time to share your important insights.

    • Thank you for your kind words and valuable social media engagement—both of which I greatly appreciate.

  4. David, thank you for writing an article that was long overdue in being written about. Hate crimes have become a very disturbing problem in this country with Law Enforcement Officials at a loss as to how to tackle it. My wife and I reside in Brooklyn, NY where hate crimes against people like us (Orthodox Jews) are out of control. A day does not go by where another attack of some kind is reported. My wife and I are very noticeably Orthodox because of the way we dress. Some of these attacks are anti-Jewish taunts or verbal threats. Our synagogues are not forced to hire armed security personnel to protect the congregants or have a professional teach self-defense mechanism or evacuation procedures in case of a shooter. Neo-Nazi’s, White Supremacists and alike are obviously deeply disturbed individuals who have become consumed with hate for one group or another. Feelings of hate are bad enough but when these feelings lead to violent action many steps must be taken on many different levels. This is not America our forefathers dreamed of or could ever be thought possible. There is no one-step solution to this problem. Our beloved politicians (meant sarcastically) talk big but as per their usual, there is no action behind it. There is a former Assemblyman by the name of Dov Hikind who served the Boro Park Community ( an overwhelming Orthodox Community in Brooklyn) has been fighting hate crimes by going into different neighborhoods and talking to people. He is one of the few who not only speak out against these crimes but also organizes rallies in addition to working with the New York City Police Department. One powerful tool we can all use is prayer. We should pray to whomever we worship to make hatred stop.

    • Joel: Many thanks for taking the time to share your important insights, which are most appreciated.
      To reiterate, as noted above:
      “Jews were the direct target of half of the bias/extremist homicides in 2018, in the worst year ever for anti-Semitic killings in the United States,” according to The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.
      This is a sad reality for which I’m reminded of the following two quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

      1) “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bare.”
      2) “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

      On a personal note, I still painfully remember my first encounter with anti-Semitism as a teenager several decades ago: I was working one summer on the loading dock of a hardware store carrying inventory off 18-wheeler trucks. A white non-Jewish coworker in his early 20s had just experienced a bad breakup with his girlfriend, who left him in a deep state of remorse. He was an angry and bitter bully who was ready to lash out. I quickly became his verbal punching bag via religious harassment based on my Jewish faith. He would say things to me like: “Hitler should of taken care of you people” and “Shut up or I’ll send you to the gas chambers.” This was quite shocking to a young person growing up in the predominantly Jewish small town of Roslyn, Long Island (NY). But it goes to show that religious discrimination and anti-Semitism have no geographic or moral boundaries. The irony is that my family was “reformed” — which you know is the least observant sect of Judaism. Nonetheless, my last name was all the bigot needed to know.

      Looking back, I often wonder whether I should have sought revenge against the bigoted bully that summer. However, it would have been a David versus Goliath battle because he was an older muscular weight lifter, whereas I was a skinny teen. Still, maybe I should have hit Mr. Bigot over the head with a crowbar or a large piece of lumber when he wasn’t looking. Regardless, I refrained from stooping to his level, while also standing my ground. I verbally protested to his supervisor about the hateful religious rhetoric — which stopped shortly thereafter. However, in looking back, those unprovoked anti-Semitic attacks so many summers ago still sting.

    • For many years my wife and I lived in Nassau County so I am no stranger to Roslyn which from what I remember was a great place to live and raise a family. We lived In Oceanside which was a mid to upper-middle-class town when anti-semitism reared its ugly head. This going back to when my son was not even in his teens yet (he is now 33 years old) and we were unaffiliated. Brooklyn has several areas (Boro Park, Marine Park, Flatbush, Crown Heights, Midwood, and Williamsburgh) which are predominately Orthodox. These are areas where the vast majority of these arracks are taking place. We are not yet in a position to move to Boro Park but hope to be soon. These communities are very welcoming to people of all races, faiths, etc. but any Jew who walks on the street or any Yeshiva, or Shul is a target. NOBODY should have to live in fear in their own neighborhood. Hate is bad enough but hate in conjunction with violence no matter who it is directed at is unacceptable and must be dealt with from all angles. Thank you again, David, for writing an article that sadly has so much relevance in society today.