When Differences Overshadow Commonality: The National Socialist Movement Defined

ADL monitors and tracks extremist groups and is all too aware
that hate often begets violence
Outright worship of Adolph Hitler. Crudely racist and anti-Semitic propaganda. A stated goal of an all white “Greater America” that would deny citizenship to homosexuals, Jews and nonwhites. These are just a few of the dangerous attributes of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), the largest neo-Nazi group in the United States. Examination of the NSM requires a focus on its differences and deviation from the mainstream and not on the rare happenstance of similitude.

The Gilroy Dispatch recently published two articles about the NSM. The paper’s leadership was subsequently contacted with objections from many readers, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

ADL voiced its concern over the public relations success the NSM undoubtedly felt it achieved from the articles. The reporter stated in the first piece that she was surprised to find she had things in common with Nazis, like their stated concern for the environment. There are occasions when it is appropriate to dote on commonalities, and then there are times when differences are more powerful, more telling, more influential than similarities. The opportunity to publish an NSM expose was squandered: the interviewees’ supposed environmentalism aside, this group is about hate and intolerance, about xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. The NSM was handed more than positive press in this newspaper; the lack of focus on their hateful differences awarded them a sense of legitimacy.

Context and critical thinking are key elements to a truthful and thorough examination of a group which prides itself on noxious hate. ADL is pleased with the response received from the leadership of the Gilroy Dispatch. That leadership indicated that in the future, this newspaper will not be used as a vehicle to disseminate propaganda in the guise of legitimacy, but will instead exercise a higher degree of responsible journalism.

ADL is a 93 year-old civil rights organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, discrimination and bigotry of all kinds. ADL combats hate and extremism through its education programs, highlighting the importance of acceptance and tolerance and empowering people, young and old, to stand up and speak out. In tandem with these educational endeavors, ADL monitors and tracks extremist groups and is all too aware that hate often begets violence.

The readers of the Gilroy Dispatch made a powerful statement by voicing their objections to the legitimacy offered to the NSM. The venomous rhetoric that emanates from extremist groups is no match for a community united, in words and in action, against hate.

Amy M. Stein is the Anti-Defamation League’s Assistant Director for the Peninsula/Silicon Valley. She can be contacted at (415) 981-3500 or (800) 600-1133. The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.