The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors hate groups and anti-government groups, released a report showing 1,360 radical, anti-government “Patriot” groups and 321 militias actively operating within the US. Released in the first week of March 2013, these statistics show an 813 percent rise in the number of such groups since 2008, with increasing numbers each year.
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 1990’s, the threat of a 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 a hatred focused on the government and its representatives. The Patriot and Militia groups are some of the fastest growing groups and should be monitored because of their increase in violent plots, spontaneous violence towards police, and a wide spreading of political, economic and social distress. Understanding the hate groups by examining their goals and rhetoric is a good way to implement successful strategies at combating their behavior if it should become violent.
Hate groups are most prevalent in California (with 84 total; Georgia was second among states with 65). The SPLC also identifies Sovereign-Citizens, who often operate as “lone wolves,” breaking away from the group to perform the violent acts. Some acts documented have been the shooting and killings of police and these and other acts by “lone wolves” are considered most heinous due to their spontaneity. Unfortunately, with the use of social media and the internet hate groups are able to recruit and spread their beliefs to a vaster audience than the past. Some possible strategies that could be utilized to reduce hate group recruitment could be intervention programs designed to stop the spread of hatred and violence, and also offer alternative activities for some of the vulnerable audiences such as young men and adolescents.
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. Otherwise, establishment media have done little to shed light on this subject.
LaurieInQueens, “‘Patriot’ Groups At All-Time High, Hate Groups Up Again: Report,” The National Memo, March 7, 2013.http://www.nationalmemo.com/patriot-groups-at-all-time-high-hate-groups-up-again-report/
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,” Spring 2013, Southern Poverty Law Center. http://www.splcenter.org/home/2013/spring/the-year-in-hate-and-extremism
Clare Kim, “Domestic Terrorism: ‘Patriot’ Hate Groups Skyrocket,” MSNBC, March 7, 2013. http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/03/06/we-are-at-a-very-scary-moment-hate-groups-on-the-rise/
Kim Severson, “Number of U.S. Hate Groups Is Rising, Report Says,” The New York Times, March 7, 2013.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/us/number-of-us-hate-groups-on-the-rise-report-says.html?_r=0
Student Researchers: Sunnie Ayers, Sonoma State University; Jackson Hand & Amanda Baron, College of Marin
Community and Faculty Evaluators: Ben Parry, Sonoma State University; Andy Lee Roth, Ph.D., College of Marin