The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors hate groups and antigovernment groups, released a report showing that 1,360 radical, antigovernment “patriot” groups and 321 militias actively operate within the United States. Released in March 2013, these statistics show an 813 percent rise in the number of such groups since 2008, with increasing numbers each year. Hate groups are most prevalent in California, with eighty-four total; Texas was second among states with sixty-two.
The SPLC counted over 1,000 hate groups in the US in 2012. By the SPLC’s standards, hate groups “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” and their activities can include “criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.”
With the numbers of Patriot groups now much higher now than they were during the peak of the militia movement in the 1990s, the threat of domestic terror attacks is very real. After the SPLC’s report was released, the Center’s president, Richard Cohen, sent a letter to the US attorney general as well as the Homeland Security secretary requesting them to “create a new task force to ensure the government is devoting the resources needed to address domestic terrorism.”
Hate groups are now transitioning from racist hatred to hatred focused on the government and its representatives. The patriot and militia groups are some of the fastest growing groups, and their goals and rhetoric must be understood in order to implement successful strategies to counter their behavior if it should become violent, according to the SPLC. The SPLC also identified “sovereign citizens,” who often operate as “lone wolves,” breaking away from the group to perform the violent acts. Unfortunately, with the use of social media and the Internet, hate groups are able to recruit and spread their beliefs more readily than in the past.
Corporate media have paid scattered attention to the SPLC report and its findings. Both the New York Times and MSNBC covered the report on the day the SPLC issued it, but otherwise, establishment media have done little to shed light on this subject.
Hate Groups and Antigovernment Groups on Rise across US
Brian Levin, “U.S. Hate and Extremist Groups Hit Record Levels, New Record Says,” Huffington Post, March 8, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-levin-jd/hate-groups-splc_b_1331318.html.
Mark Potok, Intelligence Report: The Year in Hate and Extremism, Southern Poverty Law Center, Spring 2013, http://www.splcenter.org/home/2013/spring/the-year-in-hate-and-extremism.
LaurieInQueens, “‘Patriot’ Groups At All-Time High, Hate Groups Up Again: Report,” National Memo, March 7, 2013, http://www.nationalmemo.com/patriot-groups-at-all-time-high-hate-groups-up-again-report/.
Student Researchers: Sunnie Ayers (Sonoma State University); Jackson Hand and Amanda Baron (College of Marin)
Community and Faculty Evaluators: Ben Parry (Sonoma State University); Andy Lee Roth (College of Marin)