SPLC: Obsessed with Hatred and Fear

The Year in Hate and Extremism

Mark Potok

Capping four years of explosive growth sparked by the election of America’s first black president and anger over the economy, the number of conspiracy-minded antigovernment “Patriot” groups reached an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012, while the number of hard-core hate groups remained above 1,000. As President Obama enters his second term with an agenda of gun control and immigration reform, the rage on the right is likely to intensify.

The furious reaction to the Obama administration’s gun control proposals is reminiscent of the anger that greeted the passage of the 1993 Brady Bill and the 1994 ban on assault weapons supported by another relatively liberal Democrat — Bill Clinton. The passage of those bills, along with what was seen by the right as the federal government’s violent suppression of political dissidents at Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in the early 1990s, led to the first wave of the Patriot movement that burst into public consciousness with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The number of Patriot groups in that era peaked in 1996 at 858, more than 500 groups fewer than the number active in 2012.

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SPLC Letter to DOJ & DHS

J. Richard Cohen
President & CEO

Attorney General Eric Holder                                         Secretary Janet Napolitano
U.S. Department of Justice                                              Department of Homeland Security
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW                                       U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20530-0001                                          Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear General Holder and Secretary Napolitano:

On October 25, 1994, six months before the Oklahoma City bombing, we wrote Attorney General Janet Reno about the growing threat of domestic terrorism.  Today, we write to express similar concerns.  In the last four years, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of conspiracy-minded, antigovernment groups as well as in the number of domestic terrorist plots.  As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now also are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns.  Because of the looming dangers, we urge you to establish an interagency task force to assess the adequacy of the resources devoted to responding to the growing threat of non-Islamic domestic terrorism.  

Today, we are releasing our latest report on the state of hate and extremism in the nation.  The report documents that the number of militias and radical antigovernment groups grew from 149 in 2008 to 1,360 in 2012.  This latest count exceeds the high-water mark of the 1990s by more than 500.  During that decade, the growth in the radical antigovernment movement was fueled in large part by anger over the passage of the Brady Bill in 1993 and the enactment of the assault weapons ban in 1994.  Now that gun control is again being hotly debated, we are seeing a repeat of that anger, and it is likely to continue to swell the ranks of antigovernment groups.

Read entire letter HERE

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