- Views & Opinions
The radical right grew explosively in the United States in 2011 and for a third consecutive year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama.
The SPLC, on March 8, said the ranks of extremist groups have grown to record levels, largely with the expansion of the “Patriot” movement.
“The dramatic expansion of the radical right is the result of our country’s changing racial demographics, the increased pace of globalization, and our economic woes,” said SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok.
He added, “For many extremists, President Obama is the new symbol of all that’s wrong with the country – the Kenyan president, the secret Muslim who is causing our country’s decline. The election season’s overheated political rhetoric is adding fuel to the fire. The more polarized the political scene, the more people at the extremes.”
The SPLC report details the growth of hate groups to 1,018 in 2011, up from 1,002 the year before and the latest in a series of increases going back more than a decade.
The most powerful growth came in the Patriot movement, which is composed of armed militias and other conspiracy-minded organizations that see the federal government as their primary enemy, according to the SPLC. Such groups saw their numbers skyrocket by 55 percent – from 824 in 2010 to 1,274 groups last year. In 2008, just before the Patriot movement took off, there were 149 Patriot groups, a number that metastasized to 512 in 2009.
Patriot groups have increased by 755 percent during the first three years of the Obama administration. Their number has now surpassed – by more than 400 groups – the previous all-time high set in 1996, when the first wave of the militia movement peaked shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing that left 168 people dead.
The SPLC said that with the rise in extremist groups there has been a rash of domestic terrorism, much of it aimed at government and the president.
In Michigan, members of the Hutaree Militia are on trial for planning to murder a police officer and then attack the funeral with homemade bombs in an effort to spark a war against the government.
In Georgia, four militia members are facing charges of conspiring to bomb federal buildings and attack four cities with the deadly ricin toxin.
In Alaska, four members of the Peacemakers Militia are accused of planning to murder judges and law enforcement officials as part of a plan to overthrow the federal government.
The hate groups listed in this report include neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen and black separatists.
Other hate groups on the list target LGBT people, Muslims or immigrants, and some specialize in producing racist music or propaganda denying the Holocaust.
The SPLC report, contained in the spring 2012 issue of the organization’s quarterly journal Intelligence Report, can be read at www.splcenter.org. Readers will also find an interactive map showing where hate groups are located and comprehensive, state-by-state lists.
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