The Amana Colonies have been in the news for a much more distressing reason these days. Amana was listed as the sight of Neo-Nazi activity by the Southern Poverty Law Center. More specifically, the Daily Stormer, "a neo-Nazi and white supremacy news and commentary organization," held at least one verified meeting at a restaurant in Amana in late 2016:
Ryan Lenz, a senior investigative writer for the SPLC, said that the group met at a restaurant in Amana in 2016 and that it is fair to say that there is indeed an active group in the historic village. “We’ve monitored where they existed and going with every instance where they met or … we saw they had plans to meet in Amana and we confirmed at least once in Amana, which is enough to say there is a hate group,” Lenz said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “What’s getting lost in the translation is … we’re not saying Amana is a hate group or welcoming of hate groups. This is saying racists have congregated in Amana. That’s all we’re saying.”
Further research backed Lenz’s comments that the group of individuals did meet sometime in 2016 at a restaurant in the Amanas. “The First Iowa Stormer Bookclub was a success!” posted a user with the screen name Concerned Troll in a Sept. 26, 2016, thread originally posted on The Daily Stormer, and since cached by Google. Concerned Troll, who did not post specific details about the visit, went on to suggest a subsequent meeting in Des Moines sometime in the late fall or early winter.Of course, Amana's leadership is not happy about this designation, nor is the Iowa County Sheriff. Both the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau and Iowa County Sheriff's Office dispute the claim that the colonies are the home of any hate group and are not happy that they have been associated by any Neo-Nazi groups:
“What he is saying is some people came from around state and had a meeting, or allegedly had a meeting; we don’t know for sure that they did,” said Rettig. “To label us as being home of a hate group is ridiculous and that will be proven as we go on. You can come to Amana and you will not find a hate group. It’s not what we’re about.”And I have certainly never seen any evidence of hate group activity during any of my visits to any of the Amana Colonies.
The SPLC says that their "Hate Map" is updated annually. Amana will be taken off of their map if it's found that they is no additional activity in 2017.