The Resurgence of Hate Groups

In August of 2009, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report on the resurgence of the militia movements. It is worth quoting at length here.

[Militia movements grew in the 1990s but are much worse now. The difference…] this time is that the federal government —the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy — is headed by a black man. That, coupled with high levels of non-white immigration and a decline in the percentage of whites overall in America, has helped to racialize the Patriot movement, which in the past was not primarily motivated by race hate…Ostensibly mainstream politicians and media pundits have helped to spread Patriot and related propaganda, from conspiracy theories about a secret network of U.S. concentration camps to wholly unsubstantiated claims about the president’s country of birth…From Idaho to New Jersey and Michigan to Florida, men in khaki and camouflage are back in the woods, gathering to practice the paramilitary skills they believe will be needed to fend off the socialistic troops of the “New World Order.”

…Sales of guns and ammunition have skyrocketed amid fears of new gun control laws, much as they did in the 1990s…Militiamen, white supremacists, anti-Semites, nativists, tax protesters and a range of other activists of the radical right are cross-pollinating and may even be coalescing…One federal law enforcement official knowledgeable about militia groups, said, “This is the most significant growth we’ve seen in 10 to 12 years. All it’s lacking is a spark. I think it’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence.” One man “very upset” with the election of America’s first black president was building a radioactive “dirty bomb”; another, a Marine, was planning to assassinate Obama, as were two racist skinheads in Tennessee; still another angry at the election and said to be interested in joining a militia killed two sheriff ’s deputies in Florida. A man in Pittsburgh who feared Jews and gun confiscations murdered three police officers. Near Boston, a white man angered by the alleged “genocide” of his race shot to death two African immigrants and intended to murder as many Jews as possible. An 88-year-old neo-Nazi killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. And an abortion physician in Kansas was murdered by a man steeped in the ideology of the “sovereign citizens” movement… [Source]…(Read the report).

These groups have been called the “Militia Movement,” “Patriot Movement,” or “White Nationalist Movement.” We can bundle them together into one term: Hate Groups. In many cases they would also qualify as “domestic terrorists.” The Council on Foreign Relations reported that even though there have been left-wing ecoterrorist groups, especially by extreme environmentalist groups, “right-wing extremists are still considered the most dangerous to the United States…Right-wing extremist attacks are planned to target people, and if successfully carried out, intend to kill many civilians. Ecoterrosists, on the other hand, aim to sabotage the infrastructure of businesses and corporation that endanger the earth, and do not aim to kill massive amounts of people…The FBI says right-wing extremists have the potential to carry out the most deadly domestic attacks since they have a tendency to amass weapons and explosives and have a propensity for violence.” The reports also mentions that, “the twenty-four [terrorist] incidents that occurred between 2002 and 2005 were carried out by domestic extremists.” (Source)

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC),

“Hate groups last year remained at record levels. Anti-immigrant vigilante groups soared by nearly 80%. And, most dramatically, militias and the larger Patriot movement came roaring back, with 363 new militias and related groups appearing in 2009 for a dizzying 244% increase…rising from 1,248 groups in 2008 to 1,753 last year…Right-wing militias tripled over the same period to 127.” (Source)

Why the surge in hate groups? One year ago, the Department of Homeland Security released a report about the rise of right-wing militia groups. The report warned that,

right-wing extremist groups are gaining new recruits by exploiting fears about the economy and the election of the nation’s first black president. The report predicts a worsening economy will lead to more people joining militias and skinhead groups and carrying out individual acts modeled after Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.