Hate groups on the rise
The number of hate groups in the United States rose for a second year in a row in 2016 as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) annual census of hate groups and other extremist organizations, released Wednesday.
The most dramatic growth was the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups – from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year.
The Southern Poverty Law CenterThe growth has been accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims, including an arson that destroyed a mosque in Victoria, Texas, just hours after the Trump administration announced an executive order suspending travel from some predominantly Muslim countries. The latest FBI statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims grew by 67 percent in 2015, the year in which Trump launched his campaign.
The report, contained in the Spring 2017 issue of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, includes the Hate Map showing the names, types and locations of hate groups across the country.
The SPLC found that the number of hate groups operating in 2016 rose to 917 – up from 892 in 2015. The number is 101 shy of the all-time record set in 2011, but high by historic standards.
“2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow and editor of the Intelligence Report. “The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists. In Steve Bannon, these extremists think they finally have an ally who has the president’s ear.”
The increase in anti-Muslim hate was fueled by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, including his campaign pledge to bar Muslims from entering the United States, as well as anger over terrorist attacks such as the June massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Combine this with the strong impression that Team Trump is in effect enabling violent domestic extremists and you have the formula for mass casualty tragedy. Because there is very real reason to worry:
The FBI has arrested a white supremacist who allegedly planned to carry out a Dylann Roof-style massacre against a South Carolina synagogue.
Local news station WMBF reports that law enforcement officials on Wednesday apprehended a 29-year-old man named Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell, who bought a gun from an undercover FBI agent that he allegedly planned to use in an attack against the Temple Emanu-El Conservative Synagogue in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
According to the FBI, McDowell telegraphed his intentions to attack the synagogue during a series of anti-Semitic Facebook posts in which he expressed his desire to carry out a massacre against it “in the spirit of Dylann Roof.”
In January, McDowell told the undercover FBI agent that he wanted to attack a synagogue, but worried that he didn’t have the proper training to handle it as efficiently as Roof did when he murdered nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
“I got the heart to do that sh*t, but I don’t have to the good training,” he allegedly said. “If I could do something on a f*cking big scale and write on the f*cking building or whatever, ‘In the spirit of Dylann Roof.’”