Friday, May 15, 2009

A Rise In Hate Groups

I found this interesting article on the growth of hate groups in a particular California county. The Southern Poverty Center now asserts such groups are on the rise across the nation. Also notice the recent killing of a Jewish student by a man who hated a young woman--Johanna Justin-Jinich-- simply because she was a Jew (read more here ). Authorities later found writings from the murderer, Stephen Morgan describing a plan to create a "Jewish Columbine". I do not know if they have linked him to any particular hate organization, but even individuals can certainly act on their hate alone.


SLO County home to three hate groups, Sheriff's officials say

by Bob Cuddy

But the Ku Klux Klan and skinheads haven’t been causing much trouble locally, sheriff officials say

Three organized hate groups have a presence in San Luis Obispo County, according to the annual report from a national organization that has tracked such organizations for decades.

But the presence of the Ku Klux Klan and two skinhead groups is minimal, according to the county Sheriff’s Department, which monitors these groups.

Hate groups — skinheads, American Nazis, Christian Identity, Ku Klux Klan and others — are on the rise, closing in on 1,000 nationwide, according to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

There are now 926 such groups in the United States, up from 888 in 2007 and 602 in 2000 — a 54 percent increase in eight years, according to “The Year in Hate,” the SPLC’s report.

“It’s been a long, steady climb,” Potok told The Tribune, driven “almost entirely by (hate groups’) exploitation of the immigration issue.”

While there are legitimate questions around immigration, hate groups jump on those and distort and magnify them.

And while anti-immigrant sentiment has long been a staple in California and the Southwest, Potok noted, it is not confined to that region.

“It’s animating hate groups from sea to shining sea,” he said.

Adding to that is the struggling economy. During hard times, people having economic trouble seek a scapegoat, Potok said.

Further, the U.S. Census Bureau is projecting that by 2042, whites will no longer be the majority in the United States.

These groups talk to each other, and “that’s driving them out of their minds,” Potok said.

The increased anti-immigration sentiment is a change in focus from the anti-black and anti-Semitic activity that has traditionally defined domestic hate groups.

But those traditional targets have not been forgotten.

The presidential campaign and election that brought Barack Obama to the fore also ratcheted up hate group activity, the SPLC said.

The three groups the Southern Poverty Law Center says are in San Luis Obispo County include the Brotherhood of Klans Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, with headquarters in Marion, Ohio, which Potok says is the largest Klan group, with 46 chapters.

Rob Bryn, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Department, says law enforcement generally uses the Southern Poverty Law Center’s information, but his department has not recorded any activity by the Klans Knights here.

Potok says inclusion on the list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.

The same lack of activity is true of the second group, the National Socialist Skinhead Front, defined by the SPLC as a “racist skinhead group.”

The third, the Golden State Skinheads, another “racist skinhead group,” has had “a little bit of activity,” but “nothing that would cause us any concern,” Bryn said.

Bryn said the county “monitors the illegal activity of certain organized groups.” Some are involved in guns, drugs, chop shops and other outlawed behavior, he said.

The nation’s deadliest domestic terrorism action was the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed 168.

That was carried out by Timothy McVeigh, a deranged ex-Army sharpshooter and gun show devotee who interacted with hate groups but did not join any of them, preferring to follow the tactic of becoming a lone insurgent.

There have been other, less violent and visible incidents over the years, and Oklahoma City itself reported a rise of hate groups in 2008 — including both white and African-American groups that target gays.