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Anti-Semitism "the canary in the coal mine" - SPLC

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After neo-Nazis held a rally in Orlando last weekend, WMFE reached out to an expert on extremism and anti-Semitism in America.

Susan Corke is director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. She spoke earlier this week with WMFE's Joe Byrnes.

Corke says the group behind last weekend's demonstrations, the National Socialist Movement, has a frightening ideology but has dwindled in size in recent years. 

"They're one of this country's oldest neo Nazi groups," says Corke.

"They have their roots in the original American Nazi Party, which was founded in 1959. And, as you know, from the rally this weekend, they openly idealize Hitler, they've been involved in... many ugly things."

Corke says members of the group were involved in the deadly 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Since then, she says "they've really dwindled exponentially. So one thing I would want to stress is that they do these kinds of very public provocative, violent rhetoric, demonstrations in part to make themselves seem bigger than they are."

Corke says the demonstration is part of a trend of increasing anti-Semitic incidents, from the high-profile hostage taking at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, to a recent 'flyering' incident in South Florida.

"It sounds like kind of a silly word, flyering, dropping flyers, you think of that in terms of just like, low budget advertising, but what's actually very frightening about it is that they're intercepting people in their daily lives. So it creates this fear as somebody [is] at the grocery store and gets, you know, a hateful, anti-Semitic pamphlet on their car."

Corke says it's not easy to say exactly why these incidents are increasing, but "anti-Semitism is sort of the canary in the coal mine. Once there's a rise in anti-Semitism, it is a sign of, you know, kind of greater ethnic division and fear mongering to come that will fray at democracy. And that's exactly what we're seeing here."