The New American Menace: Hate Groups and Right Wing Extremists

On October 13, a junior Senator from Texas got his face on the national and global news by speaking at a rally in Washington, D.C.  Rafael “Ted” Cruz wasn’t publicized for the quality of his talking points. He gained media space by immersing himself in a cluster of racists flying the Confederate flag and calling for the impeachment of Barack Obama, the country’s first black President.

The participation of Cruz is not shocking. After all, he represents a state with the second largest number of active hate groups (62) in the country, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). But Texas is not alone in its proliferation of hate. The SPLC’s interactive Hate Map shows that these groups have popped up from the West coast to the East and down to the tip of Florida. Says the SPLC:

Currently, there are 1,007 known hate groups operating across the country, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, border vigilantes and others.

While this may not seem an impressive number, there is legitimate concern. Many of these groups have chapters and underground cadres in multiple states. Some are forming as political parties (see Beware the 14 Words). Many remain hidden and unreported. And, the numbers of extremist right wing groups are growing, fed by radio talk show hosts, the mainstream media and politicians like Cruz, who legitimize hateful notions and continually generate anger by false propaganda. According to the SPLC, the number of hate groups has grown by 67 percent since 2000. Even more alarming is the rate of increase among the Tea Party’s so-called Patriots.

The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, has grown 813 percent since Obama was elected – from 149 in 2008 to 1,360 in 2012. –SPLC

This news, and the outright encouragement of hate by Cruz and his ilk, no doubt prompted the President’s remarks on October 16, the first day of the government’s re-opening.

…all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict,… PRESIDENT OBAMA

Whether it is known as “conflict” or hate or the Tea Party, this is the new American menace.

The SPLC devotes a Hatewatch blog to record the activity of these organizations and their principals, maintains Intelligence Files and publishes Intelligence Report, a magazine that tracks right wing extremists.

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