The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

SPLC Hate Group Count Tops 1,000 as Radical Right Expansion Continues

By Mark Potok on February 23, 2011 - 8:11 am, Posted in Hate Groups, Nativist Extremist, Patriot Groups

Editor’s Note: The Southern Poverty Law Center is today releasing its annual count of groups on the American radical right and analysis. What follows is the main essay from the new issue of the Intelligence Report, the SPLC’s investigative magazine. In the story, you’ll find links to our new hate group map and additional lists of antigovernment “Patriot” groups and nativist vigilante organizations. The issue also contains my editorial and stories on Cliff Kincaid, a homophobic propagandist at the far-right Accuracy in Media group; the adoption of an Oklahoma law forbidding the use of Shariah law; a racist group’s funding of two Mississippi private academies; a white supremacist’s new novel targeting the SPLC; the National Center for Constitutional Studies and its extremist version of American history; candidates with extreme-right ideas who ran in last year’s elections; an interview with a former “esoteric Nazi,” and more. The new issue’s table of contents is here.

Intelligence ReportFor the second year in a row, the radical right in America expanded explosively in 2010, driven by resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the government’s handling of the economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at various minorities. For many on the radical right, anger is focusing on President Obama, who is seen as embodying everything that’s wrong with the country.

Hate groups topped 1,000 for the first time since the Southern Poverty Law Center began counting such groups in the 1980s. Anti-immigrant vigilante groups, despite having some of the political wind taken out of their sails by the adoption of hard-line anti-immigration laws around the country, continued to rise slowly. But by far the most dramatic growth came in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement ­— conspiracy-minded organizations that see the federal government as their primary enemy — which gained more than 300 new groups, a jump of over 60%.

Taken together, these three strands of the radical right — the hatemongers, the nativists and the antigovernment zealots — increased from 1,753 groups in 2009 to 2,145 in 2010, a 22% rise. That followed a 2008-2009 increase of 40%.

What may be most remarkable is that this growth of right-wing extremism came even as politicians around the country, blown by gusts from the Tea Parties and other conservative formations, tacked hard to the right, co-opting many of the issues important to extremists. Last April, for instance, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1070, the harshest anti-immigrant law in memory, setting off a tsunami of proposals for similar laws across the country. Continuing growth of the radical right could be curtailed as a result of this shift, especially since Republicans, many of them highly conservative, recaptured the U.S. House last fall.

But despite those historic Republican gains, the early signs suggest that even as the more mainstream political right strengthens, the radical right has remained highly energized. In an 11-day period this January, a neo-Nazi was arrested headed for the Arizona border with a dozen homemade grenades; a terrorist bomb attack on a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Wash., was averted after police dismantled a sophisticated anti-personnel weapon; and a man who officials said had a long history of antigovernment activities was arrested outside a packed mosque in Dearborn, Mich., and charged with possessing explosives with unlawful intent. That’s in addition, the same month, to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, an attack that left six dead and may have had a political dimension.

It’s also clear that other kinds of radical activity are on the rise. Since the murder last May 20 of two West Memphis, Ark., police officers by two members of the so-called “sovereign citizens” movement, police from around the country have contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to report what one detective in Kentucky described as a “dramatic increase” in sovereign activity. Sovereign citizens, who, like militias, are part of the larger Patriot movement, believe that the federal government has no right to tax or regulate them and, as a result, often come into conflict with police and tax authorities. Another sign of their increased activity came early this year, when the Treasury Department, in a report assessing what the IRS faces in 2011, said its biggest challenge will be the “attacks and threats against IRS employees and facilities [that] have risen steadily in recent years.”

Extremist ideas have not been limited to the radical right; already this year, state legislators have offered up a raft of proposals influenced by such ideas. In Arizona, the author of the S.B. 1070 law — a man who just became Senate president on the basis of his harshly nativist rhetoric — proposed a law this January that would allow his state to refuse to obey any federal law or regulation it cared to. In Virginia, a state legislator wants to pass a law aimed at creating an alternative currency “in the event of the destruction of the Federal Reserve System’s currency” — a longstanding fear of right-wing extremists. And in Montana, a state senator is working to pass a statute called the “Sheriffs First Act” that would require federal law enforcement to ask local sheriffs’ permission to act in their counties or face jail. All three laws are almost certainly unconstitutional, legal experts say, and they all originate in ideas that first came from ideologues of the radical right.

There also are new attempts by nativist forces to roll back birthright citizenship, which makes all children born in the U.S. citizens. Such laws have been introduced this year in Congress, and a coalition of state legislators is promising to do the same in their states. And then there’s Oklahoma, where 70% of voters last November approved a measure to forbid judges to consider Islamic law in the state’s courtrooms (see related story) — a completely groundless fear, but one pushed nonetheless by Islamophobes. Since then, lawmakers have promised to pass similar laws in Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.

After the Giffords assassination attempt, a kind of national dialogue began about the political vitriol that increasingly passes for “mainstream” political debate. But it didn’t seem to get very far. Four days after the shooting, a campaign called the Civility Project — a two-year effort led by an evangelical conservative tied to top Republicans — said it was shutting down because of a lack of interest and furious opposition. “The worst E-mails I received about the Civility Project were from conservatives with just unbelievable language about communists and some words I wouldn’t use in this phone call,” director Mark DeMoss told The New York Times. “This political divide has become so sharp that everything is black and white, and too many conservatives can see no redeeming value in any” opponent.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll this January captured the atmosphere well. It found that 82% of Americans saw their country’s political discourse as “negative.” Even more remarkably, the poll determined that 49% thought that negative tone could or already had encouraged political violence.

Last year’s rise in hate groups (see map) was the latest in a trend stretching all the way back to the year 2000, when the SPLC counted 602 such groups. Since then, they have risen steadily, mainly on the basis of exploiting the issue of undocumented immigration from Mexico and Central America. Last year, the number of hate groups rose to 1,002 from 932, a 7.5% increase over the previous year and a 66% rise since 2000.

At the same time, what the SPLC defines as “nativist extremist” groups — organizations that go beyond mere advocacy of restrictive immigration policy to actually confront or harass suspected immigrants or their employers — rose slightly, despite the fact that most of their key issues had been taken up by mainstream politicians (see story and list). There were 319 such groups in 2010, up 3% from 309 in 2009.

But like the year before, it was the antigovernment Patriot groups that grew most dramatically (see list), at least partly on the basis of furious rhetoric from the right aimed at the nation’s first black president — a man who has come to represent to at least some Americans ongoing changes in the racial makeup of the country. The Patriot groups, which had risen and fallen once before during the militia movement of the 1990s, first came roaring back in 2009, when they rose 244% to 512 from 149 a year earlier. In 2010, they rose again sharply, adding 312 new groups to reach 824, a 61% increase. The highest prior count of Patriot groups came in 1996, when the SPLC found 858.

It’s hard to predict where this volatile situation will lead. Conservatives last November made great gains and some of them are championing a surprising number of the issues pushed by the radical right — a fact that could help deflate some of the even more extreme political forces. But those GOP electoral advances also left the Congress divided and increasingly lined up against the Democratic president, which is likely to paralyze the country on such key issues as immigration reform.

What seems certain is that President Obama will continue to serve as a lightning rod for many on the political right, a man who represents both the federal government and the fact that the racial make-up of the United States is changing, something that upsets a significant number of white Americans. And that suggests that the polarized politics of this country could get worse before they get better.

  • Rob

    Homegrown terrorism HAS become the most internal
    threat for this country. Cells are popping up, and they are
    mounting in numbers more and more.

    Law Enforcement know they are present, some have associations with members or cliques from their past.
    And are loyal to the members and their tactics, targeting
    individuals, groups.

    L.E. members who are associated from their pasts will be
    more committed to the homegrown terrorist group, more than honoring the hypocratic oath of serve and protect against the citizens the members are going after.

    It is a thick blue line, of selective justice. Depending on who you are, or are NOT.

    This keeps the hierarchy of control of a region to the
    homegrown terrorists…….If the L.E. do not honor the
    terrorists, they too become targets………….They would rather look the other way, when a homegrown associated terrorist, and their gang is tormenting persons by intimidation, harassment, vandalism, and psychological

    Only have to be in west central mn not be from the city, or county where the homegrown terrorists reside, and you are automatically a threat to their hierarchy, mindset, control.

    They continue, until they have destroyed ppl’s lives, and driven them from the area…….only to have destroyed the targets financial, reputation, well being in their lives.

    This is underground…… a lid kept on the goings on if ppl report the homegrown terrorism……..Mayberry it is not……
    Nazi Stasi………it IS.

  • Scott Shepherd

    The sovereign citizens should be feared just ask Robert Paudert Ex Police Chief of West Memphis, Ar they murdered his son and a fellow officer of the law! They are sick people!

  • Jeff Crocker

    Truth is best peddled alone. Truth is salable and needs not the “help” of prejudice nor crafty journalism.
    This article is a classic example of the style of journizm that relys more on the power of printed words than it’s ability to understand or express rational tenets of morality. Craft and neglect often share the capacity to mingle half truths with truth. This practice strengthens the credibility of fiction, but tricks only those minds predisposed to embrace it. This article is cleverly written with a surface “calm” powered by the sort of deep resentment it purports to oppose. Here is a simple principle for the readers to consider. Truth is always plausible without the help of untruth. Truth is best recognized by the honest. Therefore it stands to reason that whoever intentionally adds fiction to help “sell” an idea…that person does not understand the inherent power of truth. A lack of truth comprehension may not hinder a journalists popularity, Popularity has never established itself as a reliable court of truth. The concept of a round earth was ludicrous to the masses for most of the time people have existed.
    I would have appreciated the article much more if it had been careful to protect the folks who by humility, patience, generosity, kindness, praise less work, and pure love of neighbor give their lives to promoting goodwill and non violence. The article is in my opinion too broad in its inclusion of certain groups, and hypocritical in its application of the “hate group” branding.

  • fk

    These groupy were initially formed due to outrageous spending leading to increased taxation???? Thier motivation is not spending and taxation, its about hate, clear and simple. These issues can be dealt without hate, violence, marginalizing, or suppressing anyone..which is what hate groups do.
    The article is about hate groups and the radical right, not about spending and finance. You cannot justify the behavior of a hate group no matter what thier reasons are.
    Do the research and trace their roots. If you cannot see the point then youre probably a John Bircher or another hater.

  • Mykie Vincent

    Reading comments here can be discouraging, tonight I just want to thank the writers of so many well-thought and enlightened replies. I too, am tired of hate being wrapped in our flag, paraded as “American” or “patriotic” … it is neither.
    I am disgusted by the rhetoric of Fox News, Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Palin, Bachman, Gingrich, Beck and others . It is a mindset I find repugnant and even worse when we allow it without holding people accountable for that “freedom”. Don’t tell me it hasn’t worsened as even men who race to lead our nation attempt to divide us by peppering political speeches with racial and social disparagements. Do we say, “oh, (s)he’s just pandering for votes”? …

    A respected newscaster spoke of (hateful) remarks Rush Limbaugh had made recently, he said: “I know Rush, he is a good man”. Doesn’t his behavior dictate otherwise?

    Back to point: To those of you not busy making excuses, trying earnestly to educate, and giving my tired heart a small dose of hope, Thank you!!!

    Kyle’s Mom

  • WatchTower

    I hope Eugene Delgaudio is included in the new list. As well as all the people who voted for him into office.

  • Charles Knause

    I am grateful for the good work that the SPLC does in terms of tracking organized hate groups. As a Notherner living in Central Florida I am well aware of how this neo-Confederacy movement is being catered to by the local power structure here in Florida. The local newspaper of record here in the Daytona Beach area owned and operated by Halifax Media Corporation with its CEO Michael Reading recently had a story about the “Confederate Sons Association of Florida” and the good work that they are doing on behalf of remembering the Confederate war dead. The title of the article that appeared in the local section of the Daytona Beach News Journal on 01/10/2012 is “Kin of Confederate soldier pays last respects centuries later.”

    The deferential and toadying quality of this article is indeed more than obvious.

    The fact of the matter is that the local power structure here in Florida and all throughout the South is now catering to the needs of such extreme hate groups. I say hate for the very good reason that the use of the term “damned Yankees” is now part of the jargon of most red-necks here in Florida to indicate a new level of hate that is being created such neo-Confederate groups.

    This is the same tactic employed by the Nazis in Germany prior to their seizure of power in 1933. They created a cult around the “Frei-shooters” that was very much like this neo-Confederate thing.

    The use of such veteran groups was a key part of the Nazi strategy. It formed the seed crystal for their movement and we are seeing such a development again this time in the USA.

    I had a great-great, etc. who was a civil war vet who fought for the Union and lost an arm in the process. His name was Will Palmer.

    I am proud of the fact that I am the direct decendant of such a brave and patriotic man; however, I do not use it as an excuse to stir up hatred against any other group.

  • JC

    All the radical anti-christ Jewish groups who propagandize America to suit their anti-christ agenda should be at the top of the hate group list with the SPLC near the top. Operation Cast lead speaks volumes about those of the same radical hatemonger warmonger Jewish persuassion, murdering Jewish Christians too. Anyone speaking the truth about radical hatemonger Jews is hammered an anti-semite by Zionist and their “useful idiots” Israel firsters. Hitler rightfully called them “HISSING HYDRA”.

  • Hatewatch

    SPLC law enforcement seminars are free of charge, as are all materials sent to law enforcement agencies. Teaching Tolerance materials sent to schools are also free. The Southern Poverty Law Center represents clients in lawsuits. If there was a financial settlement in a case against a publicly funded organization, the funds would go to our clients.

  • Ned

    “Not a single one of your tax dollars goes to the SPLC. It is entirely funded by donations.”

    What about money paid to them by “law enforcement” organizations for their “training?”

    What about settlements from lawsuits against publicly funded organizations?

  • Alex nelson

    What a crazy world! let us advocate for justice and peace. It is sad seeing the rise of so many hate groups.

  • Snorlax

    Those Sovereign Citizen whackos scare me the most. They aren’t afraid of getting into shootouts with the law. That’s psychopathic. I hope there aren’t any in my neighborhood!!

  • Kate De Braose

    People with Nazi sympathies don’t know what is the difference between fact and fiction. They adore poring over the tracts that are churned out by anti-freedom organizations, though. Somehow it makes them feel superior to see other people vilified and hurt in public. Lately those targeted groups include women, children, the handicapped, unemployed and everyone who belongs to a different religion. I am sure there are many more on an endless and growing list.
    They enjoy “piling on” whatever victim that can be found in their vicinity, but don’t waste a second finding out what entity is actually responsible for their newly-created economic misery.
    Unless people wake up to the real intentions of newly-minted “parties” of the privileged, we will all be slaves. I wonder how much satisfaction Nazis will get from their own lack of personal freedoms, then.

  • Connie Chastain

    A note on the Patriot list pages says, “The list was compiled from field reports, Patriot publications, the Internet, law enforcement sources and news reports.”

    What “field reports”? Who filed them? What are their credentials? In what manner are these field reports filed? Where are the raw reports? Who receives them and how are they edited?

    What “Patriot publications”? Names, please? Links?

    “The Internet.” LOL!!!

    What “law enforcement”? City, county, state or federal? Names? Locations? Specific reports filed?

    What “news reports”? In what news publications? Dates? Written by? Credentials?

  • Pjm220

    @ I wonder:

    Obama is our first minority president. His election to the highest office in the land was of course going to bring out every little piece of dormant racism in whites. It is not the president that is dividing our country, but fear that whites may be treated like minorities have been and the near depression that we faced in 2009. All he is doing is showing up to work. The spike in hate groups illustrates the division quite nicely.

  • Pjm220

    Thanks, SPLC, for keeping track of the groups that promote hatred based on race/ethnicity/religion/sexual orientation in our nation. I appreciate all that you do to keep us aware of organizations that are working against freedom and equality.

  • Edward E. Scovill

    It’s interesting that Fox News and its affiliated Rupert Murdoch
    stations is not allowed to own stations, TV or radio, in Canada, or broadcast there because Canada has a law prohibiting broadcasting lies as news.

  • Jordan

    MK Ultra,
    Haven’t you heard, according to King no Neo-nazi (or white person or christian for that matter) has been involved in acts of terrorism in the last two years. Apparently, he missed the national news story about the Martin Luther King Jr. parade bombing attempt.

  • MK Ultra

    I hope the SPLC forwards a copy of this report to King so that he can investigate the threat of Christian radicalization/terrorism with his McCarthy panels.

  • Mitch Beales

    Ian, “the danger is that organizations who are anti-Israel, anti-affirmative action, or pro-immigration restriction distort these debates with lies, antisemitism, or racism.” In my experience pro-israel and anti immigration organizations and individuals are as likely if not more likely to distort debates with lies and hate speech. Yusuf al-Qaradawi is 85 years old and has said many things in his long life. Some of them certainly seem hateful to me but others seem conciliatory and reasonable. I don’t think it would be appropriate to characterize a global organization such as the Muslim Brotherhood as a hate group based on the remarks of one old man who has, according to wikipedia, twice declined an offer to lead the organization.

  • Mitch Beales

    i wonder your tax dollars are not available to the SPLC. On the other hand, thanks to “W”, they have been made available to “faith-based” organizations whose leaders use them to finance luxurious lifestyles including pedophilia.

  • Jordan

    i wonder,
    How can our nation have change and seek equality when all the racists are hiding in the closet? It’s better to have racists in the open where their ideas can be challenged and their lies debunked. Our nation was divided before, we just couldn’t see that divide. “We all know it is always the white, far right, Chrisitans who are the terrorists and hate groups…right? ” Yes, that’s why groups like the Nation of Islam are on the list, I can see how “white and Christian” they are. And those crime statistics you mentioned, I can’t seem to find them anywhere in your post, when you cite something do remember to actually quote it (or atleast provide a link).

  • Aron

    To I wonder

    Not a single one of your tax dollars goes to the SPLC. It is entirely funded by donations.

  • i wonder

    I thought Obama was suppose to bring “Hope” and “Change” and “We Can” to our country….wow…looks like he has made our country more divided by what this article says. We all know it is always the white, far right, Chrisitans who are the terrorists and hate groups…right? I mean they do get the blame for all the hate in the country. However, one may look at the black on white versus white on black crime statistics.

    Do any of my tax dollars go to support this southern poverty law center?

  • Ian


    There are plenty of organizations that oppose Israeli policies that are not labeled antisemitic by mainstream Jewish leaders, just like there are plenty of organizations that support immigration restrictions and oppose affirmative action that are not labeled racist by civil rights leaders. However, the danger is that organizations who are anti-Israel, anti-affirmative action, or pro-immigration restriction distort these debates with lies, antisemitism, or racism. Even the most virulent neo-Nazi tries to hide his/her had behind mainstream concerns.

    The websites for many organizations on the hate list are benign-looking.

    The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, wrote about Jews saying, “There is no dialogue between them and us, other than in one language — the language of the sword and force.” At a speech in Dayton, Ohio, he quoted religious urging Muslims to kill Jews “wherever you find them”.

  • Linnea

    To a few people who complained about there being no left-wing groups on the watch list: A few years ago, IR ran an article on some of the extreme animal-rights groups that have terrorized research labs. Not sure whether these groups made the official list, but I’m sure Hatewatch still has them on their radar to some extent.