The U.S. Has More Hate Groups Than Ever Before

2010 saw more activity from hate groups, nativists, and patriot activists than previous years.

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According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are now over 1,000 hate groups active in the United States, more than ever before. The center focuses the growth of several radical, hate-fueled movements over the past few years in the Spring 2011 issue of its journal Intelligence Report--complete with a Hate Map that points out where exactly in the country such groups are most prevalent.

The researchers offer several explanations for the recent influx in hate groups during 2010 such as, "resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the lagging economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at minorities and the government." The journal features three separate articles spotlighting the main factions of the radical right--"hate groups, nativist extremist groups, and Patriot organizations"--whose overall activity has increased by 22 percent over the past year. Here's the summary.

The Hate Mongers

The study includes "neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen and black separatists" as well as groups that "target gays or immigrants, and some specialize in producing racist music or propaganda denying the Holocaust," under the "hate group" umbrella. Mark Potok explains that "for many on the radical right, anger is focusing on President Obama, who is seen as embodying everything that's wrong with the country." Despite the recent popularity of the Tea Party and major Republican wins in the last election by party members focused on many of extremists key issues, "the early signs suggest that even as the more mainstream political right strengthens, the radical right has remained highly energized."

The Nativists

The anti-immigration movement has seen a slowed but continual rise with the emergence of 10 more groups over the past year. Heidi Beirich reports that last year, "a cadre of racial extremists began patrolling Arizona for undocumented border-crossers. Led by neo-Nazi J.T. Ready, they scour the deserts while armed with semi-automatic rifles and clad in fatigues, military-style helmets and Kevlar vests. Pictures of their exploits show terrified migrants forced to the ground by gun-toting captors." Nativists have also teamed up with fringe groups, such as parts of the Tea Party, and their effort was vindicated by the passage of Arizona's harsh anti-immigration law that will likely be duplicated in other states.

The Patriot Movement

According to the SPLC's report, "these conspiracy-minded organizations, which see the federal government as their primary enemy, grew by 61 percent over the previous year." The 824 patriot groups active in 2010 include "common-law courts, publishers, ministries and citizens' groups," with various militias making up 330 of the groups on the list. "Generally, Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the 'New World Order,' engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme anti-government doctrines."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.