A Continuing Problem With Hate Groups
Back in early 2010 I wrote about the reemergence of extremist right wing hate groups and militias in three posts that appear below. Now two years on the problem continues unabated as detailed in the following: Number of US Hate Groups Is Rising, Report Says: “Fed by antagonism toward President Obama, resentment toward changing racial demographics and the economic rift between rich and poor, the number of so-called hate groups and antigovernment organizations in the nation has continued to grow, according to a report released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
For over 30 years the Southern Poverty Law Center has been the preeminent non-governmental watchdog agency monitoring the activities of militia groups, especially hate groups. As it turns out, a colleague of mine at my military reserve unit is a U.S. Marshall in his civilian job and without getting into specifics I asked him back in early 2010 if this issue was real or just a product of liberal media hype. He assured me that this problem is here and now and completely real. Thus no one should be surprised by the finding that “prosecution of hate crimes by 35 percent during the first three years of Mr. Obama’s presidency.”
Here are some disturbing statistics. According to data from the Southern Poverty Law Center hate groups have grown from 602 such organizations in 2000 to 1018 by the end of last year. Anti-government militias have grown from 824 recorded to be in existence in 2010 to 1274 by the end of 2011. There is some degree of churn within these groups. For example as anti-government militias have grown in number there has been a decline in the number of Ku Klux Klan chapters and chapters of the anti-immigration Militiamen.
What seems to be at work is a replacement cycle in the ideologies that drive these groups, which may also reflect changing membership within the groups themselves. Some migrate from non-violent militias to hate groups prone to violence as was the case with “the Georgia Militia, some of whose members were indicted last year in a failed plot to blow up government buildings and spread poison along Atlanta freeways. They were reclassified because their speech includes anti-Semitism.” Moreover each and every group is not exclusively right-wing but with these groups mushrooming alongside the rise of Barack Obama and the extremist rhetoric aimed at painting the president as a stealth Socialist the rise of right wing prone groups has clearly outpaced those on the left.
What’s also of interest and something which many within the progressive movement will find amazing is that New York, New Jersey and California have some of the most active hate groups.
That’s not to say that each and every member of these various and sundry groups is seething mad and ready to commit a crime on the scale of the Oklahoma City bombing. In fact it appears that for most of the people involved in these groups the main attraction is a place to vent with like minded malcontents. In fact the Hutaree Militia had it’s cover blown before it could effectively carry out any criminal activity by members of another Michigan militia. That said the real danger of these groups is that within many of them there are those who fully intend to commit violent crimes against targeted groups or the political state itself and for whom the critical moment has yet to arrive.
Thus it could be just a matter of time before they truly committed become frustrated with the inaction of their comrades and decide to strike out on their own or with one or two other members who also are bent on action and who have decided that the parent organization is either too timid or uncommitted to radically forcing change.
It goes without saying that the “take back my country mentality feeds into this radical mindset as well.
From what I’ve read on the subject, experts theorize that the number of militia and hate group members who are truly prone to violence is in the neighborhood of 3 percent. While a number as low as 3 percent may seem small, and statistically it is, it only took two people to perpetrate the worst incident of home grown domestic terror in Oklahoma City when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Office Building in 1995. Thus the real question becomes will the re-election of Barack Obama serve as the catalyst that those within the 3 percent need in order to be propelled into action? Would Democratic gains in the House and Senate play a role as well supposing that Obama wins a second term? How about a scenario where Obama wins based on a margin of victory provided by an ever expanding Hispanic vote which cements the image of a society forever changed in terms of ethnic composition?
At present the answers to these questions remain unknowable but don’t for a minute think that the issue of potential domestic terrorism, particularly emanating from the right, is anything but real, here and now.
Coming Unhinged On The Far Right
Coming Unhinged On the Far Right: A Postscript
Hutaree Militia: Foiled Fantasy of a “Citizen’s Uprising”
Number of U.S. Hate Groups Is Rising, Report Says
Southern Poverty Law Center Report: As Election Season Heats Up, Extremist Groups at Record Levels