-- by Dave
We've been reporting here for quite some time that the immigration debate has become the major recruitment front for far-right racists, as well as one of the main conduits for transmitting far-right ideas and talking points into the mainstream, thanks to the Lou Dobbses of the world.
Now it's come home to roost: the SPLC's latest survey of hate groups is out today, and it records that we're now seeing nearly half again as many American hate groups:
Led by three states on the southern border, the number of hate groups operating in America has swelled by 48 percent since 2000, a staggering increase mainly attributable to the anti-immigrant fervor sweeping the country, according to the "Year in Hate" issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report released today.
The latest annual count by the SPLC found the number of hate groups operating in America rose to 888 last year, up 5 percent from the 844 groups in 2006 and far above the 602 groups documented in 2000.
At the same time, new FBI statistics suggest a 35 percent rise in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2006. Experts believe that such crimes are typically carried out by people who think they are attacking immigrants.
"Hate groups continue to successfully exploit the immigration debate to their advantage, even though the immigration issue has largely disappeared from the presidential debate," said Mark Potok, editor of the SPLC's Intelligence Report, an investigative journal that monitors the radical right. "The fact is that they've been aided and abetted by mainstream pundits and politicians who give these haters a platform for their propaganda."
The greatest growth in hate groups came in California, Arizona and Texas, which had jumps of 27 percent, 70 percent, and 22 percent, respectively.
The Intelligence Report piece on the survey has more details:
Although there were some signs that nativist hatred may be starting to abate, you wouldn't know that by listening to the furious rants of many groups. "America is being destroyed from within by a modern version of Genghis Khan's army," the Emigration Party of Nevada, listed by the SPLC as a hate group, said. The group's leader, Don Pauly, wants to send government "sniper teams" to the border and forcibly sterilize Mexican women after a first child.
"If the Jew government waits, and hell breaks out here in the USA, our citizens will not be asking to see any documentation," added Michael Blevins, the Florida state leader of the neo-Nazi American National Socialist Workers Party. "They will go after anyone they think an illegal alien based on race first."
The growth of these groups is being helped by conspiracy theories and other racist propaganda about immigrants that is being spread by mainstream politicians and pundits. While theories about a secret plan to merge Mexico, Canada and United States into a single country began in radical groups, for instance, many key figures have endorsed them. Indeed, 18 states' houses of representatives have now passed resolutions opposing the "North American Union" — an entity that does not exist and has never been planned, but nonetheless inhabits nativists' nightmares.
Promoting such theories, coupled with a history of ties to white supremacist groups and ideology, is what caused the Southern Poverty Law Center to add a major anti-immigration group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), to its list of hate groups last year. FAIR has also promulgated the theory that Mexico is involved in a secret plot to "reconquer" the American Southwest.
"You need to understand that WE ARE AT WAR RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA," is the way another nativist group, the Nebraska-based United Citizens of America, put it. "We are being invaded by a foreign country and we are being betrayed from within. Our government, from top to bottom, is being controlled by global elites. They have infiltrated our government at ALL levels."
The IR also has a fascinating set of profiles of some of the individuals leading this wave of hate. One of the more revealing, I thought, was this item about Jerome Corsi of "Swift Boat" fame, which ends with this note:
But Corsi soldiers on. In January 2007, he was recruited to serve as the senior political strategist for TheVanguard.org, a major conservative effort meant to serve as a right-wing MoveOn.org. At press time, the project had yet to take off.
I was unaware of TheVanguard.org, but I always sit up and take note when "mainstream" right-wingers adopt for their own purposes organizational names long used by the racist right.