Neo-Nazi flyers pushing the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory with antisemitic rhetoric were found hanging in an Oelwein city park in northeast Iowa recently.
The “Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory”, long promoted by hate groups on the fringes of society, is now being pushed to more mainstream right-wing networks, emboldening such groups.
Crew 319 describes itself on a recently created Telegram channel as “a national socialist activist group based in Iowa.” The hate group features the Nazi swastika in its logo and is apparently behind at least two flyers recently posted in Oelwein’s City Park.
Nickie Michaud Wild, a professor at Upper Iowa University in Fayette who teaches about hate groups, shared the flyers with Iowa Starting Line after another woman posted them in a private Oelwein group.
“Disgusting AF. What is wrong with y’all?” user Britni Elysia of Oelwein said, who noted she found them plastered on poles.
Michaud Wild said she thinks the group could also be behind related vandalism in Oelwein over the past several months. Those incidents include vandalizing a public health billboard in November, tagging the Williams Center for the Performing Arts this past winter, and spray-painting the Masonic Temple with “Heil Hitler” on the Nazi leader’s birthday this past April.
Oelwein Police said Monday no arrests had been made yet in any of those incidents.
“These people seem based in or around Oelwein, and I will not stand for it,” Michaud Wild said. “I do believe it’s all connected. I doubt there’s more than a handful of people locally that would deface things similarly and in such a risky way.”
One flyer shows the swastika prominently and quotes former terrorist leader David Lane’s “14 Words,” otherwise known as the white supremacy slogan. The other flyer describes the incorrect theory that people who followed Judaism had “complete control” of various American television stations, which also had several incorrect and outdated titles and even names for supposed “owners” of the different stations.
Although white supremacist groups themselves have been on the downswing since 2019, their messaging has seen a resurgence in mainstream media after the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.
“Ideas once confined to the organized white power movement are now openly discussed within the broader political right, disintegrating the boundary between them,” the SPLC said.
The notion that the world’s tiny population of Jewish people holds invisible reins of power over the world has been around for centuries. Such theories were behind the rise of Nazism in Germany, which caused the mass genocide of 6 million Jews, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which fights antisemitic content.
“Antisemites blame social ills on baseless notions about Jewish power,” the ADL says on its website. “The great irony of the myth about Jewish power is that, historically, Jews have had very little influence or control over even their own fate.”
The flyers also link to Crew 319’s Telegram channel, which had just seven subscribers as of Monday. The hate group said it was “actively recruiting in Iowa.” The number of people who had seen posts, listened to music tracks by a Neo-Nazi artist, and watched videos in the channel, however, was as many as 176.
“We are the front of Aryan humanity, working against the international Jewish exploitation and corruption of our people,” the group’s first post on June 30 said.
Other posts indicate it was expanding beyond Oelwein, with one photo post captioned, “Banner drop in Waterloo.” Shortly after a Starting Line reporter began trying to click on videos on the channel they were no longer available.
Oelwein City Administrator Dylan Mulfinger said it’s the second time flyers have been distributed in the last six months. He said the last time was in a public parking lot. Nonetheless, he didn’t think it was “too significant.”
“It’s nothing too alarming at this point for the community,” Mulfinger said. “We feel that we’re looking into it as needed, and there’s nothing pushing us to investigate.”
By Amie Rivers
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