For a quarter century, the sharp-eyed folks at the Southern Poverty Law Center have investigated and charted the growth of extremist, racist, and hate-filled groups in America. They've just come out with their annual report, "The Year in Hate," and it makes for a sobering, depressing read. While we're fighting an amorphous foe overseas, here at home, the country's internal demons continue to fester, like an open sore.
Fueled by the often heated debate over immigration, the number of hate groups in America has jumped an alarming 40 percent since 2000, from 602 to 844 today, says the report. It's a sick rogues' gallery of Klansmen, neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, and others more obscure. The SPLC staff has put together a useful interactive map, which offers listings by state and type of groups. There's also a long roster of hate incidents, broken down by state.
The categories these groups fall into are revealing. You've got the Klan and neo-Nazis, of course, but also radical Christian Identity and black separatist groups. Then you have your more generic "white nationalists" and "neo-Confederates," including one that reportedly describes slavery as "God-ordained" and "seeks a return to European 'hegemony' in a newly seceded South."
The big growth is in what the report calls "nativist extremist groups." At least 144 of these anti-immigrant outfits have sprung up in 39 states in the past two years, many of them armed with automatic weapons, cockeyed conspiracy theories, and racist ideology. Let's hope the feds aren't so focused overseas that they miss the budding Timothy McVeighs in our midst.