The Anti-Defamation League has long provided resources for those who are trying to understand the scope and tenor of American hate crime, extremism and, of course, anti- Semitism. Now, the ADL has created a tool called the H.E.A.T. (Hate, Extremism, Anti-Semitism, Terrorism) Map, an easily navigable map that organizes more than 4,500 such incidents, primarily from the last two years but stretching back until 2002. The map is searchable by state, city, type of incident and other criteria.
“As extremists continue to spread hate and incite violence using any and all means that they can, ADL is committed to exposing their efforts and fighting to prevent the hate they aim to spread,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO and national director.
The map was released on Aug. 9 to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, alongside a report that tracks the changing shape of the white supremacist movement in America.
The purpose of the map, according to Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, is to give researchers the ability to spot trends in hate across the country, and to then “leverage this info with others who are doing work in this space,” he said. Segal, who led the creation of the map, credited his team of analysts, researchers and designers for their months of work.
“The map is as helpful for staff as it is for non-staff,” said the ADL’s Robert Lattin, associate regional director for the Washington, D.C., office, which covers the Baltimore area. “It allows users to see how extremist activity manifests itself on the ground, compare types of activity in different parts of the country and better understand how it has changed over the years.”
The D.C./Baltimore area, he said, saw an uptick in documented incidents of anti- Semitism from 2016 to 2017.
Users can search the map in a variety of ways. Aside from being able to focus on incidents in specific states, cities and towns, the map is also searchable by type of incident; anti-Semitic incidents, white supremacist propaganda-spreading and even extremist murders, sortable by the guiding political ideology of the perpetrators.
One of the more pressing trends revealed in the new data analysis was the sharp rise in white supremacist activity on college campuses. White supremacist groups, Segal said, “view campuses as bastions of liberalism, diversity and multiculturalism.” In the last year, the incidence of white supremacist propagandizing on college campuses has increased by 77 percent, he said.
Researchers also noted that 71 percent of politically motivated murders in the last 10 years have been carried out by right-wing extremists.
Though the ADL has always had access to this kind of data, Lattin said, the map represents a significant upgrade in terms of usability.
“The visual aspects of the map and the functionality are incredibly helpful, as it allows us to pinpoint instances of extremist activity in our region,” he said.
Segal added that the map “has room to grow,” as it may be used, in the future, to track “not just anti-Semitism, but other types of hate.”
Lattin agreed. “We hope to expand the scope of the data in future iterations of the map through our own research, as well as partnerships with other organizations who can provide their unique data sets.”