‘Hate Groups’ Spread Across America…Or Maybe Not

AFP Photo
AFP Photo

The UK Daily Mail reports on: “The pockets of hatred spread across America: California has the most hate groups, followed by Florida and New York.”

There’s a great deal to question about this analysis, beginning with the fact that way down at the bottom of the article, we are told the count of “hate groups” declined by 17 percent between 2013 and 2014, bringing it to the lowest level since 2005. That would make the attention-grabbing headline assertion the opposite of what the report actually says – the number of hate groups is declining, not increasing.

That’s assuming the report should be taken at face value, which it should not, seeing as how it originates from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has a history of irresponsibly declaring its political opponents as “hate groups.” Most infamously, a previous map of “hate groups” from the SPLC led a disturbed man named Floyd Lee Corkins to launch a gun assault on the Family Research Council in Washington D.C., packing a hundred rounds of ammo and a bag of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, which he intended to stuff in the mouths of his slain victims. Fortunately, he was stopped by the FRC’s heroic building manager, who disarmed Corkins after taking a bullet.

For much of the Left, “hate” equals dissent. Even if the effort to identify “hate groups” could be purged of all political bias, it’s still a highly subjective classification, especially when the point of creating a “hate map” is to convince residents of certain areas that they have a serious problem requiring vigilance, possible legal action… and of course, generous donations to the groups that draw hate maps.

The SPLC totals cited by the Daily Mail include “72 Ku Klux Klan groups, 142 neo-Nazi groups, 115 White Nationalist groups, 119 racist skinhead groups, 21 Christian identity groups, 37 neo-confederate groups, 113 black separatist groups, and 165 general hate groups.”

Forgive the skepticism, but there would seem to be an awful lot of subjective wiggle room in the category of “general hate groups.” The SPLC does a lot of mouth-breathing about how organized political resistance to Barack Obama, and government power in general, constitute “hatred” and “extremism” – which are not actually synonymous, although the report labors mightily to connect the terms. The SPLC predictably can’t seem to find much “extremism” on the Left, but they rail endlessly against “patriot” groups and conservatives. They even relate the false anecdote about Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaking to a David Duke group, which would make the Southern Poverty Law Center a hate group under its own definition. Hopefully they’ll have the intellectual integrity to update their hate map with the location of their own headquarters.

On the other hand, a certain ideology noted for its willingness to express hatred through violence is left completely out of the discussion. Where are the Islamists? The SPLC document doesn’t mention Islam at all, although it does complain about “Islamophobia” a couple of times.

Muslims are mentioned solely in the context of the “radical right” supposedly feeling paranoid hatred for them, as in this passage from the beginning of the report: “On the one hand, the advance of same-sex marriage, racial and religious diversity, and intolerance toward those with openly racist views has made life more difficult for those on the extreme right. On the other, the highly successful infiltration into the political mainstream of many radical-right ideas about Muslims, immigrants, black people and others have stolen much of the fire of the extremists, as more prominent figures co-opt these parts of their program.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center evidently doesn’t think violent jihad and Islamist supremacism qualify groups for inclusion on their hate map, but supporting legislation to ban sharia law does. That’s a particularly obvious bit of political maneuvering in light of the entire section devoted to “anti-LBGT” groups, which the SPLC interprets to mean everyone opposed to gay marriage – but not radical Islamists inclined to view homosexuality as a capital offense.

Even if the number is accepted without skepticism, and with all due respect to the noble ideal that one is too many, is 784 hate groups in an Internet-dwelling nation of 300 million an alarmingly large number? Launching such a group would seem to be easier than ever – you just need a free website, and a few knuckleheads to read it – while the media endlessly feeds us messages about how racism is worse than ever, but the number of hate groups declined considerably. That sounds like encouraging news.

It’s evidently meant to be surprising that hippie California has the most “hate groups,” but that’s not really so hard to understand, given both the size and population density of the states ranked high on the list, and the fact that they tend to be ground zero for mass immigration cultural conflicts – Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania round out the top five. Assimilation takes time, which is one of the many reasons unrestrained immigration is a bad idea.

While the article says efforts were made to exclude “hate groups” that boiled down to one angry jerk with a website, the size of the groups, virulence of their rhetoric, and potential for criminal activity are more relevant than the sheer number of groups. A group of four jihadis serious about conducting “lone wolf” terror attacks is far more troubling than a group of twenty skinheads who spend their free time writing ugly crap on a web forum.

The SPLC concedes that appearing on its map does not “imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity,” so even with its political shenanigans aside, it’s hard to avoid concluding that the point of the map is to turn the number of “hate groups” into a more alarming factoid than it should be.

That’s not surprising for an interest group that solicits donations and media attention by promoting itself as a watchdog of hatred. (If you’re wondering why the SPLC would put out a report that says the situation is improving, rest assured they include plenty of speculation about how the situation is actually getting worse no matter what its own map says, because those clever haters have supposedly found ways to hide from the watchdogs.) Hatred, like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder, and those who have a vested interest in sussing out “hate” are likely to behold plenty of it.


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