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Joanna Mendelson Talks to ADL Board About the Rise in Extremism

  • March 31, 2021

Joanna Mendelson, ADL Associate Director of our Center on Extremism spoke to board members at the March 24 board meeting about the landscape of extremism and hate, and she began with saying in her 20 years at ADL, it never has been so busy.

She said we’re in a climate now where extremists have become emboldened. They openly display their hate, as we witnessed starting with the Unite the Right rally in 2017 all the way through the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and beyond.

Since January 6, the Center on Extremism (COE) has been identifying participants, and our researchers identified more than 350 extremists who participated in the attack.

Trends in extremism Joanna mentioned include:

  • A huge increase in propaganda distribution
  • Extensive use of technology, fueling the spread of online hate
  • Online hate moving into action, more and more including violence
  • Conspiracy theories and disinformation taking hold more and more
  • A big uptick in anti-Asian and Pacific Islander hate
  • Continued concentration on Jews as the root of many problems
  • Racism and Xenophobia continuing and often growing

She said going forward, there is much we can do. ADL will continue to address, spotlight, and document hate. Individuals can put pressure on legislators to address hate, fight extremism, and disinformation.   ADL and individuals also can and will pressure online platforms to strengthen and enforce anti-hate policies.  She also mentioned board members could get more information on the Center on Extremism’s findings in the COE reports Murder and Extremism in 2020, Antisemitic Incidents Hit an All-Time High in 2019, and White Supremacist Propaganda Spikes in 2020.