Hate Groups Target Children and Women Online, Report Says

New York Times, June 22, 1999
By Pamela Mendels

Hate groups are slowly but increasingly using the World Wide Web to appeal to women and children, according to a report by the Anti Defamation League, an organization that fights bigotry and has been monitoring the use of the Web by hate groups since 1995.

The report, which is scheduled to be posted Wednesday on the Web site of the New York-based group, found that in the past two years, hate sites have added special pages aimed at broadening their influence.

"It's a way to bring people into the movement," said Jordan B. Kessler, the author of the report, "Poisoning the Web: Hatred Online."

Sites aimed at teen-agers, in particular "skinhead" pages featuring music with a white supremacist message, have been around for several years. Three sites found in the group's survey, however, were clearly aimed at a younger crowd, Kessler said.

One, found at the site of the World Church of the Creator, a white supremacist group, features a coloring book and a crossword puzzle for children with a clue that includes a crude reference to blacks. Meanwhile, at Stormfront, the self-described "white nationalist resource page," there is a "kids page" said to be written by a 10-year-old named Derek.

"I used to attend public school, where I learned from first-hand experience the truth about race," the page says. "Now I am in home schooling and I am learning a lot more than I did when I was in public school. From this knowledge I have decided to make this kids page to reach other kids of the globe."

Another page, at a site put up by an anti-government white supremacist group called Posse Comitatus, juxtaposes an etching of a lynching captioned "It's time for old-fashioned American justice" with a feature in which young people can e-mail "Jeff," identified as a 14-year-old, for advice.

Kessler said he had also viewed about half-a-dozen sites designed to appeal to women. Some urge them to take an equal role with men in the fight for white supremacy.

The report discusses one site called "Her Race" which included a feature on "careers for White Women," asking, "What well-paying, interesting jobs could you choose that would most advance your race?" The site is no longer on the Web, Kessler said.

"Up until the Internet, hate groups had to limit themselves to post-office boxes, brown wrappers and small rallies in godforsaken places," said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. But the advent of the Internet, he said, "has provided bigots with a superhighway to cheaply and attractively reach millions of people they couldn't reach before."

Several organizations monitor hate sites, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. It is difficult to estimate the total number of such sites because the definition of a hate site varies from group to group -- as does the definition of a "site."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which excludes sites on topics like bomb making that are included by the Anti-Defamation League, found 254 hate sites in January of this year, up from 163 in January 1998. The Anti-Defamation League estimates there are between 500 and 600 sites that meet its definition, Foxman said.

Although the number of sites has grown in recent years, Foxman said he believes the rate of increase does not outpace the growth of sites on the Web in general. Still, he said, monitors are concerned about the sites because of their ability to reach a huge audience of Web users.

"The growth is not explosive, but it's an accretion," he said.

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