SPLC's Hate Groups Report Sees a Decrease

Center says dropping numbers 'suggest the extremist ideas now operate more openly'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2022 2:41 PM CST
Report Counts Fewer US Hate Groups, With an Asterisk
White nationalist demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

As far as raw counts go, they're down: In its annual report released Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said it recorded nearly 300 fewer hate groups in 2021 as compared to the year prior, logging 733, and about 80 fewer anti-government groups, logging 488 of those. But the Hill reports the SPLC made clear that a lower number doesn't necessarily mean that what these groups espouse is on the wane. "Rather than demonstrating a decline in the power of the far right, the dropping numbers of organized hate and antigovernment groups suggest that the extremist ideas that mobilize them now operate more openly in the political mainstream," reads the SPLC report.

Indeed, the report notes that most of those arrested over their alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack had no formal ties to right-wing groups. The SPLC report sees a pattern, noting that "the growth of a mainstream reactionary right-wing movement in 2021 is inextricably linked to the powerful racial justice movement that mobilized Americans in 2020." It highlights similar parallels in US history: the formation of the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction, and the "massive resistance" to school desegregation the US witnessed during the civil rights era.

Fox News reports conservative critics continue to take issue with the SPLC and its list, which "still includes many prominent conservative advocacy groups and a Christian ministry that has sued the SPLC for defamation in a Supreme Court appeal." The 2021 list includes conservative nonprofit organizations that are variously described as "anti-LGBT hate groups," "anti-Muslim hate groups," and "anti-immigrant hate groups," among them, the Family Research Council. (This heat map shows where the various groups tracked by the SPLC are located.)

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