Fueled by superheated fears generated by economic dislocation, a proliferation of demonizing conspiracy theories, and the reality of an African-American president in Barack Obama, radical hates groups and antigovernment groups grew explosively in 2011, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center. This year’s report, The Year in Hate and Extremism (pdf), follows past work where the SPLC catalogs the number of ‘hate groups’ and other radical rightwing movements in the US and gauges their motivations and the size of their membership.
“The SPLC counted 1,018 hate groups operating the United States last year, up from 1,002 in 2010. That was the latest in a string of annual increases going all the way back to 2000, when there were 602 hate groups,” reads the report. Exploiting the issue of “non-white immigration” by such groups was cited as the driving force behind such growth.
The most stunning growth among all groups came among the rightwing anti-government “Patriot” groups, which the report classifies as those groups which perceive the “federal government as their primary enemy.” The “Patriot” groups grew from 149 groups in 2008, skyrocketed to 512 in 2009, jumped to 824 in 2010, and last year continued to surge to 1,274. That’s a 755% growth spurt in just three years.
“The increase has just been astounding,” Mark Potok, editor-in-chief of the SPLC report, toldthe Murrow News Service. “The reality is that many of these groups are becoming more and more fearful that Barack Obama will win the re-election. You can see the anger rising along with that fear.”
the New York Times reports