A new report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center reveals that hate groups surged and flourished in 2015.
The number of groups on the American radical right expanded from 784 in 2014 to 892 in 2015, according to the report.
There was also an influx of black separatist groups, anti-LGBT groups, white nationalists, anti-Muslim groups and neo-confederates — even the Ku Klux Klan made a major comeback, going from 72 known branches in 2014 to 190 last year.
This may not come as much of a shock, considering Islamophobia is currently running rampant, United States law enforcement is killing off black people and 2015 was the year of the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling to allow national marriage equality.
However, some have chosen to disregard these occurrences as conspiracy theories or media ploys to pin people against each other. The statistics offered in this report debunk those ideas and add credence to the argument that hate is, indeed, spreading.
The top five states for hate groups in 2015 were Texas, California, Florida, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. The report notes, however, that states with large populations such as Texas, California and Florida consistently have more hate groups because they have so many residents.
According to a year-end report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “domestic extremist killers” slew more people in 2015 than in any year since 1995, when the Oklahoma City bombing left 168 men, women and children dead.
It’s common for people to associate terrorism with foreign countries, particularly the Middle East, but domestic terrorism actually dominated in 2015. Violence motivated by racial, ethnic or religious factors was the driving force behind a vast majority of the hate crimes carried out in the last year.
Examples of these crimes include the racially motivated Charleston, South Carolina church shooting and multiple attacks on mosques involving arson and vandalism.
It doesn’t help that right-wing politicians like Donald Trump and Ben Carson have fostered the fear of diversity with their anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee rhetoric.
Unfortunately, the situation is likely to get worse, not better, based on the report’s findings.
The Southern Poverty Law cites anger from middle to working class white people as one of the key factors for this hatred. Many Americans who fall into this category are angry over the inevitable loss of a “white majority,” which is predicted by the Census Bureau to occur as soon as 2043.
They are fearful of the falling fortunes of the white working class and the rise of liberal movements such as Black Lives Matter and LGBT advocates.
“Such voters are nostalgic for the country they lived in 50 years ago, when non-Hispanic whites made up more than 83 percent of the population,” The New York Times’ Eduardo Porter wrote of lower-income whites in an essay last month.
These people tend to channel their anger into hate, thus sparking hate and separatism from these other groups.
The report notes that these findings do not indicate that multiculturalism is a failure or that race relations in America are doomed forever; however, it does suggest that as ethnic diversity increases, trust between and within ethnic groups declines, which is why “inter-communal bridge building” is necessary.
We often fear what they do not understand. As human beings who coexist on this earth and in this country, it is important to seek to understand one another to build a true national community — otherwise, we will see many more years of hate going forward.
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