The SPLC’s 2021 report reveals the growing threat of extremist activity to our national security; provides crucial policy recommendations to strengthen democracy in the U.S.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) The Year in Hate & Extremism 2021 report released today: hate and antigovernment extremism have gone mainstream, infecting the national and political dialogue. The new report identified 733 hate and 488 anti-government groups actively operating across the United States – a decrease from the 838 hate groups and 566 anti-government groups documented in 2020 and the record-high 1,021 in 2018.
With far-right extremists finding safe haven in online networks steeped in hateful ideology, the number of documented active groups has declined for a third year; however, hate and extremism in America has not diminished. Instead, it has coalesced into a broader movement that is both threatening our democracy at the community level and embracing violence as a means to achieve white supremacist goals.
The Year in Hate & Extremism 2021 report does reveal that the threat posed by extremist activity has grown. Our democracy is now under threat from a hard-right, anti-democratic movement made up of hate and extremist groups, Trump loyalists, the Republican Party, right-wing think tanks, media organizations and committed activists with institutional power.
“Our nation stands at a dangerous crossroad. The mainstreaming of hate and extremism threatens our people, our communities, our education system and democracy itself,” said Susan Corke, Director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the culmination of years of right-wing radicalization. The attempt to rewrite the history of that day and evade accountability for the violence shows the gravity of the problem and the urgency of addressing it.”
On Policy Recommendations
In addition to the deep analysis of the nature and magnitude of the threat posed by hate and extremism today, the report provides a wide range of forward-looking policy recommendations designed to defend and strengthen the nation’s democratic institutions and build community resilience. Central to addressing the threat is a commitment to whole of government, long-term initiatives to counter racism, antigovernment extremism and hate groups in America include such recommendations to lawmakers and citizens as:
Speaking out against hate, racism, extremism and attacks on voting and democratic institutions, in all forms;
Enforcing current laws against private militias and political intimidation;
Protecting every citizen’s right to vote;
Holding the planners and perpetrators of the January 6 attack – and those who inspired their violent acts – accountable, with real consequences;
Improving government coordination and response to domestic extremism;
Confronting white supremacy and extremism among active-duty military and veterans;
Funding prevention and education initiatives to steer individuals away from hate and extremism; and
Making tech and social media companies more accountable and transparent to promote online safety
On Social Media
The report also documents the far-right's move to livestreaming as the preferred tool for organizing, fundraising and spreading propaganda. The trend, driven in part by their deplatforming from more mainstream platforms, has shown the resilience of online hate. Hard-right extremists continue to raise money and spread propaganda online even as their outreach becomes more diffuse and harder to capture.
On Community Activism
While the challenge the nation faces is daunting, citizens have power. This report also includes four stories of resilience: how community activists in Vermont, Kansas, Mississippi and Washington state are fighting back against hate and intolerance and working to advance justice.
Access the full The Year in Hate & Extremism 2021 report and map, highlighting the 2021 hate and anti-government extremist group counts with accompanying analysis, essays and policy recommendations here.