'This country was founded on white supremacy'

ABC News' Amna Nawaz speaks with Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project on this episode of "Uncomfortable."
42:01 | 05/16/17

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Transcript for 'This country was founded on white supremacy'
Hey everybody I'm on the devise this. Is uncomfortable the goal as you guys know is to have all been. Unflinching dialogue about some of the issues that we EC dividing America right now so each week be the special guests we focus in on what people believe and why they believe what they do. When it comes to the work at the two year today our guest is Heidi by her you are the director of the intelligence project. At the southern poverty law which most Romeo. As the SP LCI yes thank you very much for happening thanks so much for being here so as part of the intelligence project you guys. Published basically two things at a lot of people follow and know our heard about in the news right there's the intelligence report. Which is sort of the preeminent. Leading periodical and actually monitors. Radical groups in America. And then there's the hate watch block which a lot of people have been talking about recently to do with that sort of the bulk of the work you guys do there. Yet those RT big publishing platforms on the radical rights and basically white supremacy and into government extremists. We also put out annually. A list of hate groups in the United States he and anti government and groups and have heat map on our web site. Which lot of people refer to when they're talking about the extent of extremism in the US. We've been hearing. This word so much recently hate and hate crimes and hate groups and and acts of hate. And I want to dig into a lot of that definition and how we define it quantify it. But we really like to explore how people come to do the thing that they do here too so I'm curious about you how. How someone comes to work in hates and tell me that you. Well say it was a bit of around about how to hit an okay. So I was in graduate school getting my Ph.D. at Purdue University I was studying fascism in Europe has actually stating Spain specifically. And I knew that Southern Poverty Law Center because when I was growing up and I was in high school it was a high school in the eighties. One of my friends was actually the sign. Of the head of the white aryan resistance at the time relay. Guy's name is Tom Metzger the sun but the father and we re going its northern San Diego County took this to California. And the M. Tom Metzger was sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center. His organization was sued frankly out of existence because some of its member skinheads. Were involved in the beating death of an Ethiopian immigrant and Portland. So when I was in high school this lawsuit was going on and I knew a friend's father and my friend's father John Metzger who went to a different high school but I would run into him on swim team in other situations I was very very cognizant of as PLC from a young age. I also have friends when I was at Vista high school who got sucked into white hearing resistance a skinhead. So there was a certain personal dynamic not just knowing John Metzger but also this weird situation where a new people. Who became racist skinheads connected with mask are. So any event I'm graduating from my Ph.D. am writing about the status constitutional quirk and extremism. And I go out on acting in the academic world to find a job. It's gonna end up applying for an intern chipped the southern party lost banner and you. My intention at the time and I was very excited about working here because I knew about how to execute our area resistance I thought these kinds of groups were heinous terrible for the United States. So I know there is an intern. And hear her hand seventy years later and I'm running the project and it was in turning floor. So I thought I would eventually end up in academia but the work became addictive fight counts and I found XP extremely important. And I just you know never went back academia. The fact for me for a second before you got to that Ph.D. in fashions and hunt. And as you're seeing friends around you. Joining some of these groups adopting this mindset back at even further for me was this thing where you grew up was weren't very pensions was. Was white nationalism. An issue yet. In northern San Diego county and the late seventies in the 1980s. There was a pretty strong white supremacist presence now I was still pretty young when Tom Metzger actually ran for congress is a Democrat the late seventies. But in northern San Diego County at the time which was pretty world and it's not anymore you he drew 60000 votes in the area. There was some very strong white Nationalists into government activism in the whole region worst counties the next counting to the new worked in California. That's where the John Birch Society had a huge foothold in the sixties and seventies. So the whole region. Which is so different today right because it's so much formal its multiethnic credits grants and but the whole region had some very extremist politics infecting it affect my high school history teacher was. Like somebody out of Doctor Strange life he was and rabid anti Communist. Didn't think Reagan was radical enough so there was a lot of this going on in the area yeah. And just personally watching. One of my best friends Brothers get sucked into this racist skinhead life and it and strike him basically what you mean by that. Howell three when you're sitting on that so I graduate from high school in 1980 five's as early 80s and I am in my account late teens. In 151617. To battle first started noticing. Yeah this is when I had the run ends this is when I met. John Metzger everybody knew that his dad was a big neo Nazi leader in the area yeah. And I watch these friends get into this room and get involved in violent street violence. And again into conflicts with you know Mexican in. Colleagues and students and whatnot. And a lot of them ended up in prison actually for what was he didn't exist then but we would now call hate crimes. As I watched their lives get two strikes I understand how powerful and magnetic some of this stuff can be especially if your pictures manic leader like Tom Metzger was some news. And I know what it can do to people and it and it it it destroys the person involved in the movement but it also of course destroys those people who were affected by right to people who were. On the receiving end of violence horror. You know negative propaganda and so on. So maybe this season wire -- government heated as PLC so long have something to do with that time period. How is it back then how was it talked about it. What was it that kind of thing was happening on the sidelines you don't really talk about it or was it one of those things that was rigorously debated out in the open in an everywhere in felt strongly about it was non. Debated at like a teacher oh. At the student level everybody knew this was going on in fact white aryan resistance used to distribute fliers on my campus sooner the other propaganda recruiting yet I would be they would drop on May be all over the place you'd see these pictures of like skinheads beating a black man that was when image that I can remember black and white on these kind of Xerox -- So we all knew this was going on it was also the aero. Punk music. Strains of which could wandering too white supremacy. Eight music events were happening. All over that area so launched counting going south and an ordinance and give counting so we knew about it but people didn't Hough about break this wasn't. It's not like something you would see on the nightly news it was not debated issue it was more like. A dirty secret was this was it like it taboo type thing you know acknowledges it was very taboo and in fact the friends of mine he's. You know mom went for and his brother got sucked up into this. The Palestinian Y talk about it it was a very embarrassing. Thing to have happen soon and there was like no social support network or anything to drop people away from it. And so ES PLC when they sued white aryan resistance this was a big deal. Because it was somebody taking you know a very public stance saying no good news this is bad staff these are bad rotten ideas. And the violence that comes out its movement should stop the loss it was a civil action to. To defund the group which they won and won millions in damages. They went T that child actually. The guy who was killed Ethiopian immigrant. So you know. That that had an impression upon me as well as PLC did something affirmative to stop us and it really did it bankrupted white aryan resistance. Tom Metzger was no longer a major figure in the movement didn't and the amount. White supremacist activity in that region declined as a result. How many you now in the work that you do tracking and monitoring. A lot of these groups that are doing and seeing and spreading terrible messages and things. I'm how do you spend your days where you physically doing. It loaded that working tales are well I think it. Anyways I don't look any different than anybody else who sitting at a cubicle Britney. So it's a lot of hours. Online web sites or reading the publications these organizations put out. It takes an incredible amount of re search to create these lists of these groups it is so we had 917. Hate groups on our list this year but we probably looked at another thousand groups. To consider him for the homeless another thousand yeah didn't make the cut yet it didn't make the cut for whatever reason and areas that line sheer will we have a definition yes it's actually on our website it's on our he. When we look at what we want you know for thinking about are we gonna licences and secret the first thing that most people don't understand. Is it's not just about like is the group violent we don't look at that although a lot of these groups are her violent physically and I. And yes if it involved invite physical violence various kinds of members our yes what we're looking at is there ideology. So what is it that this group believes based on its founding documents. What to the leaders say. And Ers to see what we're specifically looking for. Do they treat an entire other group of people by their hair characteristics this could be Jews this could be white people because we also was black hate groups it is. He could be immigrants Muslims and so on. Do they treat that whole group of people as Lester in other words of their propaganda against them. So. You know organizations. That are anti black that allege for example black people are more criminal more sexually violent dumber or whatever the list of things particulars might be. A group like that's gonna get on our list because they're describing these behaviors are bad motives to all black people that's the key equally. In other words there's a bad person of any kind in any group right you can see this particular person days you know whatever crap or all by now but. The point is is that your sang about every single member of that category. And so it's real easy to see when you have an organization the for example thinks all G should be exterminated right because they're destroying America. Sometimes it's little more subtle is like when you look at anti LG BT group's where they are saying for example all you know game and last at higher rates. Gay men are pap files. Right the propaganda can be a little more subtle but the intention is the same. As someone that says that you know black people are more criminal bluntly where Psycho. Psychopath apologies whenever it's the same idea. So the ideology is the thing that we're looking at. They had dated day you are immersing yourself gap in there that things that they are putting out there answer on line on social media. And in our tribe gathers much information as you can about the that's right and basically creating files right policies on the group's what they believe what kinds of policies are supporting what they're up to you. And then we ethnic her call you know we don't want to name groups willing nearly as hate groups because that's a hell of a thing to say about somebody brightness and not be taken lightly. And so were very particular about what we list. And for example we don't whiskers because they're against gay marriage were often accused of during that we will only list group is an ET LG BT hate group. If they demonize. The gay population entire community entire communities got to be demonized took Q what is that like. For you just to live in that space. Clearly bumping up against views that you personally do her whole yourself. Just every day all day immersed in what it told us that take you you know I get this. So all the time her particularly for donors right to the Lawson who come through the building and they see just looking at you know some of the worst materially you can imagine it is. Racist anti Semitic. Ugly stuff yeah. It's hard to explain I I don't think it's taking a psychological told there's there's a certain passion. That you developed to find these people expose these people know what they're up to you because you know you feel like you're protecting. The society who hear this country is. Very soon. Going to have a white minority in other words no population is going to be majority of the 2040s. So we can't move forward safely. And securely. For many these populations if we don't identify people who ultimately are pushing propaganda that encourages violence. I don't want my fellow Americans to feel that fear or to be exposed hate crimes and and the kinds of things and bowled out this prop again. See how the sort of you know you have this mission driven. Attitude towards I will sit sometimes addressed some black Q her patent. You know they hurt his sometimes you do need a break Friday from looking at this but I think. Myself and my colleagues feel like it's you know its duty somebody's got to track these horrible people we need to deal. Let's. Talk about where we are as a country right now because you sharing your story about what you're seeing around you growing. Compromises sometimes we talk about things as if their new in this country now whereas a lot of these groups have roots that go back. Generations and generations are in some other form right and then they take in new form moving forward. Sure when you look at the landscape of hate in America aren't these radical groups in America. What what is the trend lines have there been absent flows like historical triggers that cause surges. In support for them and they kind of flew back. To lower levels has there been a trend line up or down in what where we now. Well. I think sometimes Americans forget that this country was founded on whites premise right slavery. Restricting the vote white males for example while wealthy white males racket room property. And that really until the 1960s in the 1960s with voting rights act Civil Rights Act and the immigration act and who's not forget that. Those three bills were Seminole steps away from white supremacy. That existed until that day now we're only talking about 1965. When the last of those bills were passed right. So the bulletin are out long ago the bulk of our history is wine. That is more in tune with white nationalism. Denny is with multiculturalism. Buyout launch. One of the things so personal we definitely an interesting way to look at which is the majority of our American history. Almost all of Iraq is it was Brian bio and for whites with the presumption that whites were superior people. To keep that in mind it was a revolution in the 1960s worth but what Martin Luther King. And the people who marched with him did was literally revolutionized this country and get rid of the stain that was there from the deck. It's not just the United States same kind of thinking was in place across Europe and other countries. There were majority white city it was really a revolution to see old people. Or at least have a vision that all people are the same news. That was should be treated the same under the law it seemed fame. Carol fairly modern idea that's right because it was etched du Jure discrimination right it was by law discrimination was just because like I'll I don't like black people so well I mean it was the legal system was punishing. Against non whites our immigration system didn't let anybody except for quote unquote new critics weigh into the country. So there's so. Have white supremacist groups in the United States is not surprising given that history. So the more. More recent. Pattern is this. In the 1990s disorders and counting these groups for starters Klan watch in actually an eighties and then expanded outcome for all consulates promises. In 1990s number of hate groups bounced around Y me now for 51 year force and the next thing before or after that. There wasn't really a trend line there was more or less somewhere between. You know 315450. Groups have. That changed. In 2000 starting in 2000. When we had 600 to hate groups. After that the march was largely a ports so the trend in terms of the number of still just started rising it was a big difference. But it sort of like. It is that lake you know they're used to be just one dollar bond in one part of that of South Asia and then there were factions and suddenly apparently fort different splinter group have to worry about their spears stomach will speak for their can be that happening yeah right but I would argue that's not the major pattern that happened here as was actually the rise of. Of new organizations. Whole more people or Austria. And in the wind the reason I can save more people definitively is I can just look at web forum like storm front which is a hate site old it was founded 95. Same time as AOL for stateside on the way. Their membership has doubled since Obama came into office it was growing back that as well so there that's like a real world fact besides. Just members of groups now I would argue the reason that the number of hate groups are growing at that time. It's because in 2000 is the year the census. Came mountainside in 2042 that was the year here. There white population will be a minority. And that's a step parent is definitely set off alarm bells so I was already monitoring these groups in 99. And what happened was all the sudden. Everything from the klan's white nationalist groups decided to start attacking immigration. As opposed black people which has been their bread and butter for decades. And there's a reason for that. Mexican immigration to the United States was growing and it was the demographic threat it's immigrants. That are gonna swap out why people from their perspective. So they shifted their rhetoric they started attacking immigration they held rallies on the basis immigration had no interest in that five years before. I Sally like immigrants by a decent think of him as much Cadillac the threat and now you side definite shift in terms attack and resources and OK and they talked about the demographic threat they're very cognizant what they're facing pure white supremacists and whites are going to be the minority it's game over to you better get to. And the edict and then you know the financial crisis hit that fed more people to the movement like they all that always does what does. The other part of this island ask you about because so much of his ideology but a lot of it is a real world factors right that. People who are prone to want to see other people as enemies or taking resources from them there are things that happen outside of racer a Dennehy. Or religious context that trigger those kinds of things rain. Economics are really really important here it's very easy to suck up the idea that it's immigrant stealing your jobs. When the economy is collapsing and jobs are really disappearing right now we you don't have a job that's right you don't have a job so it's easy scapegoat right it's it's a simple message that hate groups understand and pushed all through that frank you know up to today yeah the financial crisis. Then Obama got it. Honda was elected and there was a black man in the White House now sent shivers up the spine of white supremacist who. And helped fuel their recruiting effort you saw a surge that apps will be crown bank. I'm trying to remember what the jump was in the number of groups and it was probably you know a 10050. In the course of the year. And we have 917. Of them as of 26 teams say that's from the 400 in the ninety's. To a little over 900. Cash to stand. You know just when he and we that's right so it's there's real strength there. And storm front that web site notes mentioning has more than 300000 registered users at this point and that's how you measure membership. Album they measure they tell you actually this is how many people we have registered on our four they put out a newsletter and membership numbers put the numbers right on the front page so you can just go ahead and look at it you can see wow that's 300000 people are on a neo Nazi website. But that's that's self reporting. To those are people actually went there and signed up to be members that they say when parents and act and you trust those numbers I do trust the numbers you can see when we do scrapes of storm Fran we can actually see that this is a real thing. Now that doesn't mean all those 300000 people are. You know completely active on a regular basis right but they have gone to that website they have got themselves a username they've gotten themselves password. And in those cases they have posted something on. They're being reached by the message at the very least let's talk about where we are now as a country post election because you guys put out a couple of adjusting reports. Right after the tiny sixteenth election right coming this picture so we put out. A report ten days after the election on the level of hate violence and hate incidents that we had seen just since. The Wednesday after Donald Trump was elected him and at that point we've had something like 800 incidents in that short span of time. We also put out a report about schools didn't so during the campaign we sent a serving 18101000. Teachers. We did not mention the names of any of the candidates in this survey of new and we asked the teachers to report back about what the school climate wise. On their campuses during this arm this election it is. So not only do we find that hate incidents exploded after the election but we also found that the trop administration and the trump campaign. Had created a school climate that was quite horrible for minority children. Four. Immigrant K its Muslim kits and so on the level of sort of you know you're gonna be deported. You're a Muslim get out of the country terrorists like these incidents were happening all over the place is news. And really what these two things amount to is the racial climate was scary for minorities in the wake of the election. I would argue that people who light Trump's attacks on Mexicans to Muslims women. Others yeah. Were emboldened by the election and played that out in the days afterwards I mean literally the day after the election my phone was ringing off the hook with people reporting incidents it was. I've never experienced anything like. You know and and I say he'd incidents I should clarify that the down unnecessarily crimes do it could be somebody walking down the street and someone screams at them terrorist go home now that's protected speech right. But it's an ugly thing that happened to you lose. Some of those incidents more violent and their four criminal or they were property to face man. And that's a crime to. Where you I remember when the reports came out I read them though and he is the first question I had was how do you know how can you fair trial so are you able to vet everything that everyone said it will week. Obviously could not that what happened just in the future ace right after the election yet. And the stuff that came from teachers was their self reporting right so we took command face value as it does mean that some of them couldn't be you know. Wrong or lying or whenever there's not much we can do about you we're now we are. So we would use media reports to hope that things and law enforcement reports you know police instance where we can get her hands on to cross checked there and Greek and now in the last month or two were working with pro public act to really do the vetting that you're asking about a now you to go through the data seriously am there's a whole bunch of others working on the project Huffington Post in. The New York Times is investigating some of these things anyhow there's a lot of journalists working. To verify the incidents in news and provide solid data to the public and they databases Carty. And then hopefully to refer. Criminal cases where we are retained if that has Marie Kerr. Is it fear. It is part of this comes down to the way in which people are sharing their stories in self reporting there's an inherent flaw right. You're relying on people to define for themselves and then report to you. Without any way to verify it on the back and sir and also they're there wasn't the place for people to report before. Right so Ari is very concerned that because is sort of like if you build it they will come idea like we gave people a place to report heat. And so they did so in larger numbers than they otherwise would. I would guess there's at least seven I think it would be ridiculous to argue it differently. But even so we've been collecting hate incidents out of the press and from cops for literally couple decades. And in a ten day period. You're not gonna get more than it if it was really extraordinary maybe a dozen at Stetson says there was something different going on at this point time now I agree with Hugh if you build it they will come. But I would still argue that these numbers are far out of whack from what we normally assi and it will find with Ari found that a few will be hoaxes. Or it'll be personal stories that we can't verify but even so these numbers are so much. Higher than what we would get in this time period that there's no question that there was a wave of hate it broke out after that election. What kind of alum I ask you about those hoaxes because they get so much attention. And even if it people who are involved in them half the same intention you do have calling you know greater awareness and and letting people know these things are happening. They effectively undermine the entire argument right because aids the handful of hoaxes that do occur for every I don't know how many other actual events that occur. Get shared very widely right because they're more sensational there are more interesting to read about it and allow people to than say how do we know everything. Else Israel to note what you say he's exactly right I really. The hoaxes are variants. First it serves no purpose secondly. One or two hoaxes and their hoaxes in any kind of criminal act you know any kind of crime should collect sure yet you've got fake insurance Friday got this or that. What bothers me about this is that they can then be used to undermine the idea of hate crimes. Puree and there are some conservative web sites would like to act as a hate crimes are real issue. And they take advantage of this and the staff shared so you do and us no help by lying about a hate crime. You're causing us problems and here's the bigger issue. The Department of Justice is done three studies looking at survey data crime survey data they collect. And they tell us that every year there are 280000. He crimes in the United States. 280000. That's department of justice and the FBI reports about 5500. So the FBI itself does not collecting. The data that way they need to you we are not. Come from under reporting. State laws that are different from place to place states with no hate crime laws in South Carolina didn't have any crimes they couldn't charge. Don't root for murdering nine black people under hate crime slot that's why the Fed stepped in there. No cop training on this front there's a million things I could point to you. But if we understood that there are 280000. Hate crimes in this country as opposed to the data that most people look at. We consider this a massive social problem and we do something about you but we doubt so the hoaxes undermine that reality is well. When askew you would we talked little bit about the of some of the language used during the election and how do you think it impacted. We saw was a surge. Afterwards that ended in a recent interview someone actually asked you do use he. Mr. trump as a symptom or caught this. Of the hate crimes and use it I don't think there's any question. Trump is that caught us and you cited some of the anti immigrant Xena phobic anti women accent her language he used during the campaign. Is it fair to lay that. All at the foot of one man absolutely fair I mean trump who was running for the highest office in the land here in the United States. I would argue probably in the world right one of the most important political elected position a terrorist. Trump's first day of campaigning was to call Mexicans rapists and some other bad things. He used Xena phobia and racism and misogyny. Throughout the campaign and easy to get elected and and you can't say that this happened over and over again Imus was calculated message to people. About the kind of people he wants in this country and doesn't want this country the people it was going to favor and wasn't gonna favor. And when we have racist speech coming from important public figures trump or otherwise. It makes a difference for example in mid to late 200620072008. There was a rash of anti immigrant rhetoric coming from politicians who's also organizing at the border Brett on people who work. Like militias that were picking up the and document is all this anti immigrant stuff going on. Right then and there he saw a rise in the number of anti immigrant hate crimes. When there were the debates over the ground zero mosque here in New York route and there was a lot of anti Muslim talk for people like Newt Gingrich and other figures political figures important ones. We saw a rising anti Muslim hate crimes. It's only people with a platform in a voice care responsibility. With things they Tuesday accused the question is that you know in a lot of that I read through the day on their reports to particularly the schools report. I'm actually and I try and I was looking into doing a story and I called around to at least three or four dozen of the people who'd agreed to be contacted by the media. And their stories ranged from you know. And mildly offensive. Absolutely offensive a mildly offensive kind of comments being tossed out casually and the conversations that institute. Two very disturbing near violence type incidents but a lot of them are mimicking language. That reflected ideas that have long existed. In American society I would argue. And some are wondering if it's you know. You say that you think mr. trump was the cause but did he really just give Lang wage to a lot of things that already existed here while. I don't disagree with you that it existed I mean this is the point about white supremacy for so long but I would say he keep license to these ideas he sanctioned. He made the mainstream. In fact trump is the biggest. Mainstreaming. Of happy person we've ever hat. And right you know that we didn't well what I mean by that is in the past. Let's talk about George Allen's run for senate in 2006 for example on the Republican ticket in Virginia. When he says in the cock which is an offense were for black people his candidacy was so. For the most part the political parties did not allow people to use racist language and stage as candidates in that. That was a non starter. And and that was a good thing for society because Emmys at the at least at the highest levels a national level everybody understood that racism and hate in these kinds of things are bad and we don't want them involved and our political system. Trump has changed all that he's an assist her to back the clock to you. You know the air of George Wallace and others who used racist language to try to get votes. And that's what we have right now and that's why considered such a tragedy. And it's why it's not surprising that this wave of emboldened folks came out after the election an attack did exactly those populations. Who that trap attack during the campaign. I shouted these groups had had really been Wimbledon because in the data it showed a surge right afterwards right and then everything trailed off. Wouldn't we be seeing sustained levels of those kinds of attacks is now. Elections usually can well usually bring out the worst in us. Depends on circumstances. After the Briggs and vote for example England last summer. Where are Muslims were demonized and immigrants throughout throughout campaign. We shall wave of attacks huge spike of attacks on them as well. Those were assembled supporters these things as social events tense Peter round of it now we're still having these attacks I think chasm Monday. There were more than 18100 that we documented but it's not at the levels it was before you I might also say that the trap campaign. Has toned down the rhetoric a little now they have nots and I wish they would. Turk campaign trip adminstration has not come out and and you know specifically denounced hate crimes and any support groups who might be engaging in that kind of activity. But trump did make a statement about anti semitism was due to congress couple weeks ago and actually he would argue and I'm sure his administration argue he has said two people committing violence in his name stop. Well that's about the extent of what he said which is stop at bring into being dragged kicking and screaming ranked by reporters to make those comments. I wish he would be presidential on the way that George W. Bush was after nine a lap and and make a full on statement about how the stuff it's terrible I I don't want anybody committing he acts crimes by substance in my name. George W. Bush did a very import thing after 9/11 by going to a mosque denouncing. What was then an outbreak actually murderers people who thought were Muslims Reich is tax. And he said that Muslims are part of our community there are Brothers and now remember the exact words but it was along those lines and that it is stopped that wave of day. Let me ask you how did you think that would help. Or make a difference because the counterargument to that is. Look it people will find in the message that thing that they want to find and too. Their defense they can't control who supports that so you know if you come out and publicly denounce a group. If you say I shouldn't have said that and I you know. That's what it was. But people who have terrible ideas or ideologies still find something to latch on to into what you're saying even if president trump were to come out and give a speech. Saying this is terrible don't do it. People may think I know we really means and I'm gonna keep on doing. I think it would make a big difference yeah I really do I think the majority of people who might have gone embolden it worked out during the election and thought they could sing eighties things that they wouldn't have sagged you know the day before. Would have stopped it would have been really powerful bright after the election. More so than now I think it makes a huge difference went public figures denounced. He trader racism xenophobia and it makes people think differently about this. And unfortunately for us we have an administration did the opposite right it opened it to work to making this things. More acceptable so I really think it would make a huge difference certificates sort of incumbent upon our political leadership to stand against ideas that are so heinous. And harm the lives of our fellow citizens. When the trend line has been going the way that it patents how do you case stop it and reverse it. They you'd like on the hour in the number of groups that you've seen rising over the years the level of activity. The degree to which lot of the stuff as you mentioned has sort of become normalized where we're using phrases and and things that haven't been seen for decades he. Wealth political figures matter hugely here. Looking out the phenomenon clear eyed and explaining it is is buried very important. Making insurer. That tech companies don't make it easy for these people to get their messages out or to make money off of this messaging matters. I'm thinking here of the fact that Google is changing its policies because they were found. Two been running as a funnel 30000 dollars a former Klansman David Duke's video channel on YouTube. There are a lot of things using that private company its hold responsibility apps here is there well I mean YouTube itself says that it doesn't funnel money to extremist but they were found to been doing that right so there are whole host of things that can be done to make civil society more civil right. With her its political figures. You know there there are things like pay Powell is essentially the banking system for hate groups. Why is it. You know that's how I hate groups make money move money you know there's more news several dozen bankruptcies that is their mean. Banking system and why why would you gauge that kind of commerce something we brought up to pay now. So there's a whole host of things here that matter I mean there's no simple answer Ers. But it would be nice if it started from top to say the staff is that you know this is this country is. Geary soon can have no majority population. We can't live. And be successful democracy if we have civil strife like this it's really a bad thing for future. And we've been here before the you know in the nineteen twain's when a terrible immigration act was passed 1924 actually. To ban everyone who was non white from the country actually be northern European under that act. That was an Arab and we had high levels of immigration and the Klan was its its largest ever war milling Klansmen and our population was much smaller. We've been through these scenarios before and what makes it better is taking a stand for civil rights equality. What worries you most Ezekiel landscape you've been tracking it for all these years now where are you most. Intensely focus. Well one of the worst things that's been happening in the last five or six years is just a series of domestic terrorism tax I mentioned deliberate fright killing nine people black people to church and Charleston. We did some work on. How many of these attacks are actually are part white supremacist and anti government extremists. And over the last several years the Obama administration there was an attack on an attempted attack like that every 34 days. And more people were killed by white guys. Then killed by radical islamists not not that that's not important is this is an issue of and not or write the way those threats and charity groups that you focused on us and our. And so I'm I'm very worried that the trapped administration is gonna sort of ignore those people and that we're gonna get more violence on that front I don't want that to happen I want federal policy to stay focused on that. I want federal policy to stay focused on doing things reduced never hate crimes in this country and I worry that that won't be taken seriously by this administration that remains to be seen. Right and I worry about just these deep divisions that we have. Right now. Because just cancel school way right even if you're able to reduce the number and groups. Alarm or their influence or their recharge or their funds or whatever it is. Those groups don't go away right there's always going to be some segment of the population that feels as if they are being forgotten. Yes sadly that's the case and and it's our history I mean we got to remember that a lot of these hate groups what they're saying right now. Was regular talk normal dinner table talk for the majority of Americans back and let's say 1960. So that history is in going to be wiped away overnight but he can be worked towards being wiped away. You know if we worked. Gather sir how do we get there how you for at two people out there who aren't working like you are everyday on these issues. What do you do if you if you're witness to something if you hear about something what you did intervene to your report. Intervention is always a little Dicey because you don't want people to get her right I mean that's the thing. But if you can't stand up for someone who's facing like I hate someone screaming terrible things at them that that's a big deal. Reporting is really important law enforcement needs to know what's what's happening and sometimes this is just a law enforcement issue right it's criminal activity or violence he can't deal with it. I'm a little bit more. Interest in what's happening it sort of the local. Or maybe even the state level. Civic groups like you know holding welcome welcoming. Community's rights and immigrants feel safer working with refugees. Or holding town halls to talk about diversity and in anything happening HD with these divisions right now. I have a feeling that it sort of regular Americans talking to people with different views is gonna get us through this. Although you know I'm not trying to make light of our you know what what it means for public figures stand at. In many ways have been you know very happy about the protests that happen against the Muslim and the women's works its I want. Because I think the vision of society that they're putting out there. Is a better one than what we've seen so far from this administration I mean I'm still hopeful trump do something I don't know of any well. But it would be nice and are you hopeful thing. It's Penn center. Cute speaker it. Unilateral. I've put them an acre count at what's happened in politics play here oh grade. And could certainly the United States mean whatever wheat state it's in a better place that was in you know before the voting rights act was passed before the Civil Rights Act was passed immigration act. We gotta keep that in mind. You know that so he's got to hope babies couple steps back and then three steps forward. Maybe maybe maybe. I admire and thank you so much for being here for taking the time to talk that I really appreciate it thanks for having. Thank you for listening to uncomfortable. If you like what we're doing take imminent leave us the rating and a quick review it helps others to find these conversations. And we really just want to hear it too thick. Plus we made it easy just click on the link in the description of this episode. If you have an idea for a show topic glory asked pleaded and their use or tweet apple. Patent about the stuff that's an aide WA. TI FDA Ann Liguori use the hash tag uncomfortable talk. Uncomfortable with the production of ABC news new episodes post every 2 weeks on Tuesday morning. I'm on in the five thanks for listening.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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