The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the US, reports that the number of hate groups has grown by 67 percent since 2000. The SPLC website states, “Currently, there are 1,007 known hate groups of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, border vigilantes and others.” It lists as reasons for the increase “anger and fear over the nation’s ailing economy, an influx of non-white immigrants, and the diminishing white majority, as symbolized by the election of the nation’s first African-American president.”
Based on those criteria, I would suggest that nation’s largest hate group is the Tea Party. After all, the Tea Party is virulently anti-immigrant. It displays its racism on rally posters showing President Obama dressed in Nazi attire with a Hitleresque moustache. It continues to make unsubstantiated charges that the president is a socialist, a communist and a dictator. The Tea Party has launched relentless attacks on government institutions from the Environmental Protection Agency to the US Postal Service…even first responders and local school boards. Virtually every Tea Party meeting is devoted to tales of government conspiracies and fears of a “New World Order.” Moreover, Tea Party members continue to display guns at rallies and talk of “Second Amendment remedies.”
All of this paranoid nonsense is fueled by obstructionist Teapublican members of Congress, anti-government lies spread by Fox “News” Channel and right-wing hosts of hate radio, in addition to vicious attack ads paid for by a few angry billionaires. The resulting growth of hate has not merely divided our politics. It has pitted friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor, family member against family member, one race against another and the wealthy against the poor.
At its worst, this growing culture of hate can be seen in the recent “Stand Your Ground” slayings which have seen a teen killed for wearing a hoodie, another teen ruthlessly murdered for the volume of his music, and a military veteran killed for texting during movie previews and for throwing a bag of popcorn.
It may seem that these events are unrelated. They’re not. They are likely all symptoms of a growing national anger created by our toxic political environment and enabled by easy access to guns.
We have to ask ourselves, “Where will it end?”