Commentary: Hate Groups Are on the Rise in America

Since President Obama took office, groups wanting to take back “their” country have surged.

Posted: 03/09/2012 03:35 PM EST

The arguments about whether President Obama has been good for America or bad for America will continue for years after November’s election, regardless of whether he ends up winning four more years in the Oval Office.

One thing that’s not up for debate is that, under Obama, the United States has experienced a drastic uptick in hate groups. According to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the total number of hate groups in America reached 1,018 in 2011. That’s only a slight jump from 2010, but it marks another year of growth in what’s been a decade of hate-group insurgency.

Perhaps most interesting about all these new hate groups is how many of them are part of a so-called “Patriot movement." That is, they see themselves as being enemies of the federal government and its laws.

Once a movement associated with controversial federal intervention such as the showdown in Waco, Texas, the patriot cause largely died out in the late ’90s. But after the Barack Obama’s election in 2008, patriot groups came hurtling back, largely due to some white Americans fearing that their country was being taken away from them. It may sound ridiculous to most, but there are in fact many people who consider a Black man in the White House a threat to the sanctity of their nation.

This from the SPLC:

The swelling of the Patriot movement since that time has been astounding. From 149 groups in 2008, the number of Patriot organizations skyrocketed to 512 in 2009, shot up again in 2010 to 824, and then, last year, jumped to 1,274. That works out to a staggering 755% growth in the three years ending last Dec. 31. Last year’s total was more than 400 groups higher than the prior all-time high, in 1996.

The economy is also a problem underpinning America’s hate-group growth. In a time when the job market is ultra-competitive, and whites see people of color as enemies in the battle for income, some say the animosity between races is inevitable. August Kreis, former head of the Aryan Nations, told the SPLC, “The worse the economy gets, the more the groups are going to grow.”

What’s more, in May of last year, a study in Perspectives on Psychological Science found that many white Americans believe racial progress in the United States has impeded whites in favor of Blacks and Latinos. Some even believed that anti-white prejudice was worse than anti-Black prejudice. Couple that with research that shows whites will soon be a minority in America, and to some white Americans, it looks like the world is changing too drastically.

Thankfully, despite being well armed, most of the hate groups in America sit dormant. They distribute flyers, as the KKK did in Georgia recently, or they’ll talk angrily about increasing government oversight at Tea Party rallies. Yes, sometimes they’ll go into communities and wreak real havoc.

The truth is that statistics show American race relations are getting better. These “patriots” can either accept that or go elsewhere.


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(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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