Southern Poverty Law Center: 50% rise in violent hate groups
A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks the activities of violent hate groups in the United States, has found an alarming rise in the number of such groups, from 602 in 2000 to 926 in 2008.
This comes on the heels of a controversial report on "violent extremism" from the Department of Homeland Security, which has outraged many conservatives by seeming to lump them in with extremists.
Morris Dees, the founder of the SPLC, told CBS's Harry Smith on Wednesday that he believes the two reports do "synch up pretty much" and that "the report from the Department of Homeland Security should be taken very seriously."
However, the SPLC's own report focuses very narrowly on groups which actively preach violence, including neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and the "racist skinhead subculture." It also notes the surprising rise of "anti-Semitic black separatists calling for death to Jews on bustling street corners in several East Coast cities."
"A key 2008 hate group trend was the increasing militancy of the extremist fringe of the Hebrew Israelite movement," the report states, "whose adherents believe that Jews are creatures of the devil and that whites deserve death or slavery. These radical black supremacists have no love for Barack Obama, calling him a 'house nigger' and a puppet of Israel. They preach to inner-city blacks that evil Jews are solely responsible for the recession."
Dees told Smith, "The political climate, the election of Obama, the immigration issues ... and now, especially, the economy is almost causing a resurgence of what we saw in the days of Timothy McVeigh, almost a militia movement that's being reborn. ... I think that an American person is much more likely to be harmed by a domestic terrorist extremist group than by one from abroad."
Dees also emphasized that many extremist groups are recruiting Iraq veterans and even active-duty members of the military because of their expertise with arms and explosives. "It's a serious issue," he stated, "especially with a lot of these guys coming back with post-traumatic stress syndrome, coming back to a failing economy, the inability to buy a home and get a job and get credit."
This video is from CBS's The Early Show, broadcast Apr. 15, 2009.
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