White nationalist hate groups in the United States have increased 55% throughout the Trump era, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and a “surging” racist movement continues to be driven by “a deep fear of demographic change.”
Nationally, there were 155 such groups counted last year, and they were present in most states. These groups were counted separately from Ku Klux Klan groups, racist skinheads, Christian Identity groups, and neo-Confederate groups, all of which also express some version of white supremacist beliefs.
Since the turn of the millennium, the report says, “American racists have fretted over what they fear will be the loss of their place of dominance in society” as its racial composition changes. The report notes that the perpetrator of a massacre on 3 August 2019 in El Paso, Texas, where 26 were killed, and another man who attacked a synagogue in Poway, California, killing one woman and wounding three more, claimed to be motivated by the idea that white people were being replaced.
The increase in hate groups includes many which openly advocate violence, terrorism and murder, and “accelerationist” groups ”who believe mass violence is necessary to bring about the collapse of our pluralistic society,” including organizations like the Base, Atomwaffen Division, and Feuerkrieg Division, listed in the report.
According to the SPLC report, the arrests are evidence that federal agencies are finally “hearing the alarm bells” regarding violent white nationalism. It points out that in the last year, “the FBI upgraded its assessment of the threat posed by racially motivated extremists to a ‘national threat priority,’ and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a strategic shift toward countering racial hatred”.
But the report says that those efforts are hampered by senior members of the Donald Trump administration like Trump aide Stephen Miller, “who has long been allied with anti-immigrant hate groups.” Miller’s attempts to insert white nationalist talking points into rightwing news website Breitbart’s coverage of the 2016 election were exposed last year, but the administration has retained him in his senior role.
While the report concludes the overall number of hate groups dipped 8% on 2018’s record numbers, it says that this “does not reflect a significant diminishment of the radical right,” and that other kinds of hate groups continue to grow in number. Along with the increase in white nationalist groups, there was an increase in homophobic and transphobic organizations, with anti-LGBTQ groups increasing 43% in 2019. Many of those highlighted in the SPLC report are religious fundamentalists.
The report calls for a “national movement against hate violence in America” in defense of “inclusive democracy.”
Originally published on The Guardian as White nationalist hate groups have grown 55% in Trump era, report finds