The rise is linked to the election victory of President Trump
Hate groups proliferated within US borders in 2017. The tumultuous months were characterized by social media attacks and racist violence. The icing on the poisonous cake was the lethal Charlottesville white supremacist rally.
A non-profit legal entity operating out of Alabama, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), has identified about 954 groups which can be described as hate groups. The SPLC has defined hate groups as organizations which through the statements of their leaders or its activities, follow practices or beliefs which malign or attack a class of people, usually for the latter’s immutable characteristics. The number slowly went up over a span of three years. In 2015, it was 892, a year later in 2016, it was 917.
As per its yearly report titled “Year in Hate and Extremism” published on February 21, individual states have also witnessed a rise in a number of hate groups. In South Carolina for example, there were 14 hate groups in 2017. The figures are a slight increase from the 14 hate groups found in 2016. The groups included in the survey white nationalists, neo-Nazi groups and black nationalists among others.
Heidi Beirich, the Director of the Intelligence Project, said that rising number of hate groups within the Southern states and also nationally have one common cause- the rise of President Donald Trump. She pointed out how the Trump administration tried to put the blame on both sides after events turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va. It does not help that the US President made disparaging remarks concerning African nations.
The SPLC utilizes a number of methods to find the latest activities of these hate groups. To find them, the members routinely review publications on citizen reports. Media and field sources are also included. Investigations are sometimes carried out by the group members themselves.
The report was accompanied by a statement written by Beirich where she said that the ascendancy of President Trump and his subsequent statements mirrored what white supremacists groups regard as heaven- a country where the highest office in the land legitimizes racism and immigrants kicked out. Muslims are also banned.
The SPLC warned that Trump’s policies have resulted in a blowback of increased black nationalist groups. The latter went from 193 chapters during 2016 to a considerably larger 233 in 2017. Republicans understandably were not happy with the report. They said no correlation exists between the black hate groups and also with other kinds of groups like Black Lives Matter. The latter is striving to end the prevalent systemic racism.