An antisemitic, racist group’s startling presence in Maine

Maine has a history of hate groups. In the 1920s, the KKK, a strong presence in the state, was aimed mostly at Catholics, particularly Franco-Americans. As many were “relative newcomers” from Quebec, this was largely a nativist, anti-immigrant movement.

But the 1920s were long ago and Maine now has a reputation for tolerance and support of civil rights.

Yet a new study finds a relatively high portion of Mainers associated with the hate group Stormfront.

As the author of the study, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, explains about the group:

Stormfront was founded in 1995 by Don Black, a former Ku Klux Klan leader. Its most popular “social groups” are “Union of National Socialists” and “Fans and Supporters of Adolf Hitler.” Over the past year, according to Quantcast, roughly 200,000 to 400,000 Americans visited the site every month. A recent Southern Poverty Law Centerreport linked nearly 100 murders in the past five years to registered Stormfront members.

The white nationalist posters on Stormfront have issues with many different groups. They often write about crimes committed by African-Americans against whites; they complain about an “invasion” of Mexicans; and they love to mock gays and feminists. But their main problem appears to be with Jewish people, who are often described as super-powerful and clever — the driving force, generally speaking, behind the societal changes they do not like. They sometimes call the Holocaust the “Holohoax.” [source]

Going through the profiles and posts to this hate group’s site, the study identified the states of members and posters and determined a population ratio by state. It’s shown below in a map:

From: "White, Bigoted and Young," Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, New York Times Sunday Review, July 11, 2014

From: “White, Bigoted and Young,” Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, New York Times Sunday Review, July 13, 2014

Maine is not in the category with the highest proportion of people linked to Stormfront, but it is in the next to highest group.

It also sticks out in New England and the Northeast more generally for this horrible metric.

At the same times, as a recent study shows, Maine is among those same states when it comes to being “ideologically loose,” a concept that refers to “how flexible — or not — people are in terms of enforcing rules and accepting variances from social norms.”

While the author doesn’t break down the objects of hate by state, he notes that overall the top targets are not Muslims and Hispanics. No, it’s blacks and Jews.

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.