Newsrooms were on fire this week with terrible news: The number of hate groups in the United States has soared to record highs under President Trump.
There are most certainly hate groups in the U.S., and even one is one too many, but I’d encourage everyone to approach the numbers reported this week with calm and caution. There’s nothing partisan operatives would love more than for you to panic and to believe them when they suggest that the problem can be solved by expelling “the other team” from power. That the figures cited by newsrooms come via the decidedly unreliable and hyper-partisan Southern Poverty Law Center also doesn’t help anything.
The New York Times reported, “Over 1,000 Hate Groups Are Now Active in United States, Civil Rights Group Says.”
“Hate groups ‘surge’ across the country since Charlottesville riot, report says,” reads the headline from the Miami Herald.
“Trump ‘Fear-Mongering’ Fuels Rise of U.S. Hate Groups to Record: Watchdog,” U.S. News and World Report said in a headline that sort of gives the game away.
First, let’s keep things in perspective. Remember, for example, that the rise in the number of hate crimes is attributable in some way to the fact that there are more reporting agencies ( hundreds, in fact!) than ever before. It’s easy to say, “Oh, it’s all because of President Trump,” pointing to incidents like his disastrous Charlottesville statement. But the problem of bigotry is far older and deeper than the current administration. That the Trump White House isn’t helping anything is one complaint, but don’t fall for the suggestion that it’s the main driver.
Second, while we’re on the topic of taking things seriously, it’s important to remember that the SPLC is not an organization whose declarations should be taken seriously or treated as fact. As I’ve written before, much of its “hate group” reporting is trash.
In 2015, for example, the group put Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on its “extremist watch list,” citing the one-time presidential candidate’s “anti-LGBT views.” Later, in 2016, the SPLC labeled women’s rights activist, female genital mutilation victim, atheist, and ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali an “anti-Muslim extremist” because she opposes Islamic extremism. The British activist and extremist-turned-counterextremist Maajid Nawaz was placed in the same category. The SPLC lumps pro-family and pro-Israel organizations in with actual neo-Nazis.
The SPLC is not in the business of exploring and addressing racial and ethnic bigotry. IT’S IN THE BUSINESS OF CRUSHING ANYTHING TO THE RIGHT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
As for the report the SPLC just released this week, IT CONCEDES THERE IS AN UPTICK IN THE NUMBER OF BLACK NATIONALIST GROUPS SINCE 2017, BUT IT DOWNPLAYS THIS FACT BY CLAIMING THOSE GROUPS “HAVE LITTLE OR NO IMPACT ON MAINSTREAM POLITICS AND NO DEFENDERS IN HIGH OFFICE.” I must’ve just imagined noted-anti-Semite and frequent Democratic guest Louis Farrakhan.
Hate groups are real. Hate crimes are real. The SPLC is not. It exploits hate groups to raise money and further political interests unrelated to the problem of hate. Don’t fall for the SPLC’s lies.
(emphasis added — read it all)