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New SPLC Report: 'Patriot' Movement Explodes

The number of antigovernment “Patriot” groups grew at an astounding pace last year, as it has in all three years of the Obama presidency, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) annual count of extremist groups, released today. The number of these groups rose from 824 in 2010 to 1,274 last year.

This dramatic expansion of the radical right was driven by fears related to economic dislocation, the country’s changing racial makeup, and the prospect of four more years under our first black president. The campaign season, with its vitriolic rhetoric, has also contributed to the overheated atmosphere that is fostering these groups. In addition, many politicians and other public figures increasingly have been pushing conspiracy theories and demonizing rhetoric into the political mainstream.

The report on SPLC’s annual count and review of the last year in American extremism may be found here. The table of contents for the entire new issue of the SPLC's Intelligence Report is here. What follows are synopses of the major stories found in the new edition.

  • Last year, little noticed by the mass media, a Massachusetts man burned himself to death to protest treatment of men by family courts. The death opened a window into a dark world, sometimes called the “manosphere,” of woman-hating “men’s rights” activists.
  • The National Association for Research Therapy of Homosexuality, which promotes therapies that supposedly “cure” gay people, is seen by many as the preeminent source of “junk science” that demonizes homosexuality.
  • The little-known Church at Kaweah in California boasts of a “militant Christian separatist worldview” and is training its congregants for armed combat against the “New World Order.”
  • Four members of a Georgia militia were in their late 60s and 70s, but officials say that didn’t stop them from planning assassinations, bombings and biological attacks.
  • Floridian Camille Marino is the newest star on the radical animal rights scene, and she’s frightening. “If I have my way,” she says, “you’ll be praying to us for mercy.”
  • Breaking a long silence, the son of the neo-Nazi who murdered a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum describes how his father ruined his life. Now, Erik von Brunn is just trying to survive.
  • The United Nation’s Agenda 21 accord is a voluntary global sustainability initiative. But to hear antigovernment hardliners tell it, it’s the leading edge of one-world totalitarianism.
  • Bad press, internecine quarrels and co-optation of their issue by state legislatures have almost halved the number of hard-line anti-immigration groups in America.

The New York Times ran a story this morning reprising the findings of the new SPLC Report. Another, longer story was prepared by MSNBC. CNN also weighed in.

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