A year ago, the headline of the report on hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center read “Hate Groups on the Rise.” Sadly, this year’s report concludes that hate groups have risen for the second year in a row.
The rise in the number of hate groups in the U.S. corresponds with the radical right getting emboldened by the candidacy of Donald Trump, according to the SPLC’s annual census of hate groups and other extremist organizations, released Wednesday (Feb. 15).
“Trump’s run for office electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a White man’s country,” wrote Mark Potok, SPLC senior fellow and author of the report.
“He kicked off the campaign with a speech vilifying Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. He retweeted White supremacist messages, including one that falsely claimed that Black people were responsible for 80 percent of the murders of Whites. He credentialed racist media personalities even while barring a serious outlet like The Washington Post, went on a radio show hosted by a rabid conspiracy theorist named Alex Jones, and said that Muslims should be banned from entering the country.
“He seemed to encourage violence against Black protesters at his rallies, suggesting that he would pay the legal fees of anyone charged as a result,” said Potok.
The most dramatic growth, according to the report, was the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups – from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year.
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