APnc 06/11 0634 Far Right
By MITCHELL LANDSBERG Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Reagan administration has been the
toughest foe the extreme right has faced in decades, in part
because it has provided a mainstream alternative to conservative
fanaticism, a report says.
The administration also has brought more right-wing extremists
to trial than any other since World War II, said the
Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, a Jewish service
"The hate movement is weaker today than in many years," the
ADL said in Wednesday's report. It gave credit to "the superb
job done by the Justice Department and law enforcement agencies"
and to "the good sense and decency" of most Americans.
The report, "The Hate Movement Today: A Chronicle of Violence
and Disarray," focuses on such groups as the Ku Klux Klan, the
Order, Posse Comitatus, the Aryan Nations and various neo-Nazi
Such groups reached a peak of popularity in 1981 and have been
declining since, the report said.
The ADL said the Reagan administration's conservative social
and cultural values have "tended to undermine whatever base of
popular support the far right had begun to acquire."
"The tendancy ot extremist groups is to thrive when there are
administrations in Washington that represent the opposite of
their views," said Irwin Suall, fact-finding director for the
He said the Reagan administration appeals to the "sympathetic
constituency" of the far right -- people who might support
extremist groups without becoming heavily involved in their
As a result, the far right has been pared down to "hardbitten
ideologues and fanatics" who would oppose anyone in the White
House, he said. And the federal government has responded harshly
to their growing penchant for violence.
The report catalogued a long list of criminal cases against
far right groups for such activities as synagogue firebombings,
the slaying of Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg, illegal
paramilitary training and conspiracies to overthrow the
"Not since the Roosevelt administration's wartime indictments
of Axis sympathizers on charges of sedition have so many
far-right extremists been placed on trial," the report said.
It said extremist groups have been energized by recent events
in Forsyth County, Ga., where demonstrations by civil rights
groups brought an outpouring of resentment from local whites, and
in the Howard Beach section of Queens, where a black man was
struck and killed by a car after he and his companions were set
upon by a white gang.
However, the ADL said these incidents "have provided only
brief periods of enthusiasm for activists rather than any lasting
build-up in the ranks of the Klan and neo-Nazi groups involved."
The report said the Ku Klux Klan, which has splintered into
three major factions, has been reduced to a nationwide membership
of between 4,500 and 5,500, a decline of as much as 25 percent
suring the past 2 1/2 years and the lowest total in 14 years.
The neo-Nazi movement, which has become divided since the
heyday of the American Nazi Party under George Lincoln Rockwell,
can claim only about 400 to 450 members, a drop of 10 to 20
percent in the past 2 1/2 year, according to the ADL.
It offered no comparative figures for the various "Christian
Identity" groups that have captured headlines in the past few
years: the Order, Posse Comitatus, the Arizona Patriots and the
Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord. However, it
indicated that these groups, too, are in decline.
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