1,020 hate groups—that’s the new all-time high found within the United States in 2018. The number was figured by the Southern Povery Law Center (SPLC); they calculated a 30 percent increase over the past four years. The SPLC’s “Hate Map” for 2018 also allows viewers to compare the changes since 2000—when 599 hate groups were counted—but the numbers have been tracked by the SPLC since 1990. The map also shows varying amounts of “hate per capita,” which is calculated per 100,000 residents in each state. Arkansas, which has one of the highest rates, is home to fourteen hate groups.
According to its website, the SPLC is “dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society… using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy.” Since its creation in 1971, the SPLC has monitored and exposed a number of hate groups across the United States. The organization has been targeted by hate groups for their work, but over the decades, the SPLC has initiated and carried out many civil cases on behalf of clients. They’ve gone up against hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, White Patriot Party, and White Aryan Resistance. They also were a part of a push back against a monument of the Ten Commandments being placed outside the Alabama Judicial Building.
This year, the SPLC counted 83 hate groups in California, the highest of all states, and 0 in New Mexico. However, states like Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota had the highest rates of hate groups per capita. The most common groups include Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, and Black Nationalist. There are also a large number of anti-Immigrant and anti-Muslim groups. Arkansas itself has all of the above; while some are concentrated in different cities, there are White Nationalist and Neo-Nazi groups that are statewide.
There’s also a large number of groups in Louisiana (21), Tennessee (36), and Missouri (24). While any number of hate groups is dismal and unacceptable, the number has declined in these specific states since the mid-2000s.
Many people point to the United States’ divisive politics as the cause of the new highest recorded number of hate groups. There have been record numbers of shootings, hate crimes, and murders at the hands of extremists; 2018 was called “the deadliest year yet.” SPLC claims that President Donald Trump is to blame. According to their site, ““Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it—with both his rhetoric and his policies. In doing so, he’s given people across America the go-ahead to act on their worst instincts.” Hate groups with white nationalist ideology have increased by 50% since his election.
The annual hate map never brings good news, but there are things that the SPLC is doing to fight back. They publish the “Hatewatch” blog, which “monitors and exposes the activities the activities of the American radical right.” They also share the information they track through investigative reports, law enforcement training, and expert analysis. Their “Extremist Files” database keeps record of prominent extremists and organizations, recording their histories and beliefs.