Monday, December 19, 2016

REPORT: Hate groups emerging from the shadows

Social media has allowed groups to share their ideology of hate with millions.

I HAVE A LOT of white friends. I work alongside many white people and we get along rather well. I have white people in my family. I fear those statements might sound like the  cliche, "I have a lot of (fill in the blank) friends." Nevertheless, they're true.

I had to get that paragraph stated right away because I don't want readers to think I'm talking about ALL white people. There is a small segment who have re-emerged in American society in a more vocal way and, some say, in a more powerful presence largely due to the recent presidential campaign.

Vox has an interesting report that should worry Asian/Americans and Pacific Islanders. It says most of our country's hate groups are rooted in white supremacy. This confirmation is nothing new for people of color but it might open a few eyes among Vox's readers.

In an extensive 2015 analysis, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) determined that 892 hate groups exist in America. Of these groups, 528 — or roughly 60 percent — subscribe to white supremacist ideologies.

“White supremacy” is a very broad term, says the Vox report, "referring to the racist ideology that whites are superior to nonwhites and should maintain political, economic, and social authority.

But under that umbrella, there are a number of factions, each slightly different in its set of beliefs. Specifically, SPLC breaks down America’s white supremacists into six subgroups: the Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists, racist skinheads, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and followers of Christian Identity, says Vox.

I'm not sure when the study concluded but 2015 shows a marked spike in membership among these groups, but the highest membership grown occurred in President Obama's first term, 2008-2011. The groups membership showed a sharp decline in 2014 when Obama's popularity surged and Americans began to believe that an economic recovery was occurring. 

We can surmise - with some degree of confidence - that with the so-called alt-right wing bold enough to do Nazi salutes and shouting "Sieg Heil" in the shadow of the nation's capitol, 2016 might literally be off the charts.

How America's white supremacist hate groups have fluctuated in the 21st century

Of particular concern of the SPLC authors is  the growth of the "lone wolf" racist who are impossible to track.

“There is a social stigma attached with hate groups,” says Lenz. “In recent years, people join forums online anTrumd find confirmation of their beliefs without joining a group. And now, with Trump {nd his recent appointment of Steve Bannon, the head honcho of the alt-right website Breitbart), they can find it in mainstream politics too.”

The decline in traditional hate groups here may be, in part, a result of the alt-right movement’s growth. Ignited in 2010 with the creation of Richard Spencer’s Alternative Right blog, the alt-right has offered a community that both confirms its members’ beliefs and offers full anonymity.


Hate groups aren’t truly declining — they’re just becoming more covert and secretive, says the authors. I'm not sure I agree with that. With Bannon whispering racist sweet nothings into president-elect Donald Trump's ear and some of his Cabinet picks repeating the same complaints about what they call "socialist" government programs, that isn't exactly secretive.

The so-called alt-right, a term created by Bannon, may be the newest brand, but it's belief system borrows from its predecessors in the white-nationalist movement. Combining its racist ideas with anti-women and anti-LGBTQ platforms, the alt-right has just branded itself in more palatable, modern terms. 

The more moderate GOP members have to be wary about the very volatile formula brewing among Trumps more extreme supporters. They need to be brave enough to denounce the racist, misogynistic and homophobic rhetoric and actions. All Americans should beware of this dangerous breed of haters and at the same time, support those that expose and fight against the actions of the extremists. 

The growth of the white supremacist hate groups should concern us all -- no matter what color we are. Those upcoming battles could very well occur in the streets, the Internet, the courts, the halls of Congress ... and even (irony upon irony) in the White House.

White supremacist groups are no longer hiding in the shadows or keeping their beliefs to themselves.