“Hate map” shows explosive growth of extremist groups in 2011

Is it just me, or does it seem that there’s more news than ever about extreme right-wing hate groups in America? As it turns out, it’s not just me. There are facts to back up that creepy feeling. According to Southern Poverty Law Center’s [SPLC] 2011 census, the radical right movement grew explosively in 2011—a third consecutive year of dramatic growth that has swelled the ranks of hate groups and other extremists to record levels.

According to the report, released in March 2012,

The number of hate groups counted by SPLC reached 1,018, up from 1,002 the year before….the stunning growth came in the anti-government “Patriot” movement—composed of armed militias and other conspiracy-minded groups that see the federal government as their primary enemy. These groups saw their numbers increase by 55 percent—from 824 in 2010 to 1,274 groups last year.

The increase marks a 755 percent rise in Patriot groups during the first three years of the Obama administration. The number has now surpassed—by more than 400 groups—the previous all0time high set in 1996, when the first wave of the militia movement peaked.

SPLC’s annual census catalogs hate groups in all 50 US states, defining hat groups as having “beliefs or practices that malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” SLPC further defines the groups it lists as having

activities that include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing. Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. Listing does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.

SLPC gets its information from hate-group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports.

The hate map

You can see the complete list of groups, and you can click on an interactive, state-by-state map of hate groups at Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map.  Only organizations and their chapters known to be active during 2011 are included.

The state with the dubious distinction of having the largest number of active hate groups in 2011 is California, with 84. Georgia is in second place, with 65, and Florida ranks third, with 55.

A click on California reveals a state map dotted with symbols of the various groups. SPLC lists all of the groups and categorizes each one’s special brand of hate. Click on any state to get the full list in your area. The list  offers a chilling snapshot of America’s nasty political and cultural underbelly of blind prejudice and irrationality.

A few examples of groups on the California list [with SPLC’s hate-specialty category in brackets]: Christian Guardian [anti-Muslim], Aryan Terror Brigade [skinhead], American Aryan Reich [neo-Nazi], Traditional Values Coalition [anti-gay], Save Our State [anti-immigrant], Noontide Press [holocaust denial], League of the South [neo-Confederate], Council of Conservative Christians [white nationalist], National Black Foot Soldier Network[black separatist], and Christian Anti-Defamation Commission [general hate].

“General hate.” What a category! It’s so depressing and frightening to realize that so many people are devoting so much energy to something so unproductive and downright nihilistic, when there’s so much good that could be done instead–and with much less effort.  Unfortunately, in light of what SPLC is reporting, you can be pretty sure that if there’s anyone or anything else–specific or non-specific, real or imagined–to be feared or disdained, there is–or will be–a hate group for that, too.