2013-05-29

The SPLC reports that the number of hate groups in America diminished last year while Republicans’ legislation correspondingly became more hateful. The Obama-era boom in hate groups has transited into a surge of hate politics, with real political impact.

The number of radical-right hate and militia-type “patriot” groups in the United States, which peaked in 2012 after four years of explosive growth, fell significantly last year due in part to the mainstreaming of right-wing ideas, a civil rights group said Tuesday.

The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual Year in Hate and Extremism report, which tallied 939 active hate groups and 1,096 patriot groups in 2013, for a total of 2,035, which the organization said remained a relatively high number historically. It represented a 14 percent decline over the 2,367 groups counted in 2012.

The drop came as mainstream politicians began co-opting more right-wing ideas into state legislation which face constitutional challenges, Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center, said in a teleconference with reporters.

“We might be swapping terror and other criminal behavior for some really terrible laws,” Potok said.

Rick Perlstein calls this a “democracy deficit.” In recent months, we have taken a close look at Republican “outside groups” that have huge influence in state parties. Those groups are now at war with national party insiders for control of the GOP. This is a structural problem in the conservative movement, which has radicalized the most in the party’s safest districts. The effects of this radicalization are most visible in legislative initiatives at the state level: new anti-gay laws, a record number of new abortion restrictions, anti-immigrant bills, anti-Sharia laws, climate change denialism and anti-Agenda 21 laws, voter ID and voting discouragement efforts, Common Core nonsense, anti-Obamacare legislation, ad nauseum. In Washington, it has mainly manifested as Republican intransigence towards any fair offer from the president. Because if there is one thing that unites the right, it is their shared hatred of Barack Obama.