We should thank the people at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for trying to keep track of these fringe groups and counter them with legal challenges wherever possible. We should also be sending SPLC donations so that they can continue their good work. This is how the SPLC describes itself:
"Founded by civil rights lawyers Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr. in 1971, the SPLC is internationally known for tracking and exposing the activities of hate groups. Our innovative Teaching Tolerance program produces and distributes – free of charge – documentary films, books, lesson plans and other materials that promote tolerance and respect in our nation’s schools."
This is what they intend to accomplish:
"Our lawsuits have toppled institutional racism in the South, bankrupted some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist groups and won justice for exploited workers, abused prison inmates, disabled children and other victims of discrimination."
One of SPLC’s tasks is to keep track of hate groups, antigovernment "patriot" groups, and armed militia movements. You can find here an interactive map (the Hate Map) that will allow you to select the list of all the hate groups in your state. Every state has them; it seems everyone is hated by somebody.
"All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."
"This list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports."
"Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing."
An article in The Economist provided this chart of the growth in number of "patriot" and militia groups and labeled it "The Obama Effect."
Isn’t it curious how comfortable the ignorant, the violent, and the bigoted are when there is a Republican president in office—and how riled up they get when a black Democrat enters office?
"These factors also are feeding a powerful resurgence of the antigovernment "Patriot" movement, which in the 1990s led to a string of domestic terrorist plots, including the Oklahoma City bombing. The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, has grown 813 percent since of the Obama was elected – from 149 in 2008 to 1,360 in 2012."
An SPLC article written by Larry Keller, The Second Wave, provides a history of these "patriot" groups and how they have evolved during the current resurgence.
"One big difference from the militia movement of the 1990s is that the face of the federal government — the enemy that almost all parts of the extreme right see as the primary threat to freedom — is now black. And the fact that the president is an African American has injected a strong racial element into even those parts of the radical right, like the militias, that in the past were not primarily motivated by race hate. Contributing to the racial animus have been fears on the far right about the consequences of Latino immigration."
Here is an example of the kind of nonsense these people tell each other in order to inflame their hatreds.
Keller fears that these fringe groups may begin to collaborate.
Let’s hope Keller is wrong.
If anyone still believes these people are not worth worrying about—remember Oklahoma City.