The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

SPLC Urges U.S. Government to Take Domestic Extremism Seriously

By Booth Gunter on September 19, 2012 - 12:48 pm, Posted in Domestic Terrorism, Extremist Crime, Hate Crime, Hate Groups

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is convening an important hearing in Washington today to examine the threat of domestic extremism and hate crime in the wake of the horrific attack on Sikh worshippers in Wisconsin last month.

If the hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights does nothing else but put additional pressure on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take far-right extremism seriously, it will be worthwhile.

In 2009, the DHS caved to criticism from the political right and essentially gutted its unit that monitored non-Islamic domestic terrorism. The action came after heated but misguided criticism from right-wing commentators about a leaked DHS report – an entirely accurate and prescient report, in fact – that warned of a rising threat of terrorism from various sectors of the radical right. Most members of the unit left the agency after enduring what they considered unjustified criticism from within the DHS. The agency now claims the unit is fully functional, but the lead author of the 2009 report, former DHS analyst Daryl Johnson, says that isn’t the case.

In testimony submitted to Durbin’s panel today, Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, urged federal vigilance in the face of what strong evidence suggests is a rising threat.

Earlier this year, the SPLC reported that the ranks of far-right extremist groups had swelled to record levels in the past three years, a period coinciding with the Obama administration. The SPLC is tracking 1,018 hate groups – a 69 percent increase since 2000. But the most explosive, recent growth has come among antigovernment “Patriot” groups, which have increased by 755% in the past three years – from 149 groups in 2008 to 1,274 in 2011.

Members of both hate groups and Patriot groups have been arrested or otherwise implicated in terror plots in recent months.

Wade Michael Page, the shooter in the Aug. 5 attack in Wisconsin, was a musician who performed with a variety of white supremacist bands and also a member of the Northern Hammerskins, a faction of one of the most violent, racist skinhead gangs in the country. On Aug. 5, he walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, and killed six Sikhs and wounded four other people, including a police officer, before shooting himself in the head.

That attack was the latest in a series of violent acts and criminal plots by extremists in recent months and years.

In November, for example, the FBI arrested four members of a Georgia militia who were accused of various crimes in a plot to kill federal officials and attack cities with the deadly ricin toxin. In May, members of the American Front, a militia-style white suprema­cist group, were arrested in Florida for planning acts of violence and preparing for “an inevitable race war.”

  • VictimofDomesticTerrorism

    I read this blog entry and wanted to thank you for urging others to take this seriously. My daughter and I have been victims of domestic violence and sought help via the government and courts. Recently, the court dismissed our case based on a failure to state a claim. Despite getting guidance and advice from several attorneys and presenting ample evidence, the court overlooked all of it, even the fact there was someone else complaining about the same treatment and alleged one of the people I mentioned in my complaint were involved. Any help is appreciated in investigating and catching these bad people in the act. The case was in the Oregon Federal District Court (Case No. 13-CV-00205-MO). Media attention to this case and what has happened to us is welcomed. I am willing to work with attorneys and advocacy groups in the radio or media interview process.

  • CM

    Thanks, Reynardine. I’m always happy to have another canine companion. Plato says dogs are true philosophers, and I’ve never found any reason to disagree.

  • Reynardine

    That’s all I can do this weekend, folks, as I seem to have caught the first virus of Fall. But, C.M., I hope you enjoy the companionship of your new Infallible Sleuth Hound.

  • Reynardine

    Iska Warren gets the Gold (Cheaply-Plated) Hammerhead this week. Aadila rates a real Solid-Gold Anvil for her rebuttal to bigotry.

  • Reynardine

    This week, there are some special joint awards. David R. Luntz and Hunter’s Phallus each get one Big Brass Bell, so that between them, they have two.

    Since we cannot yet be sure if Ezra and Annie are two people or only one, they share in a big pile of Replacement Sawdust to restuff their heads with, a supply we all suspect they will go through quickly.

    C.M., on the other hand, will receive the Warranted Pure-Bred, Highly Trained, Thoroughly Educated and Guaranteed Infallible Sleuth Hound, whose assistance he clearly doesn’t need, but the beast is lovable and understands where C.M. is coming from.

    More in a bit.

  • Reynardine

    What? That’s Hunter’s Phallus, the dorky pipsqueak with the underperforming endocrine system? Why, *Hunter*, no wonder that’s all the better you can do!

  • http://agreyeagle-(non-pub) jan heaton

    As a Great-Grandmother, part-Native American Indian-Huegunot-Mulungeon- Ukranian-incorporating Italian- Irish- Okinawa-into our DNA-our family became “the league of nations” through love. (a circle) One of your comments hit the mark for “Stand for truth or you’ll fall for anything” Anonymous has No guts.Truth IS FACTS. all the rest of the blabber is a ploy for attention.Tolerance is what we teach here! We only see in each other WHATv WE ARE-Ourselves!
    Think about it! As Daddy would say-“make sure brain is engaged before putting mouth into gear >Publically! – a grey eagle

  • Tootles

    It’s a little too late to prevent Fort Hood.

    Will it get to the point where police will have to be stationed in front of every second synagogue in the country?

    Very few Jews these days are worried about the KKK, so please stop living in the past

  • Kiwiwriter

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Hunter Wallace, AKA HW, is just a garden-variety Council of Conservative Citizens shill, racist, and anti-Semite. Looks back with fondness on the carefree days of slavery, plantations, and whippings. Hates Jews and blacks. Probably hates Jews more as being the evil geniuses behind the blacks.

    Here strictly to troll the board, derail the discussion, and get more attention than he’s worth.

    Sit! Beg! Roll over! Play dead! There’s a good troll!

  • Kiwiwriter

    Hey, HW….are you going to provide us with any evidence about the “Left Wing climate of hate?” When did SPLC demand that its followers gun down their opponents?

    On the other hand, have you seen the innumerable statements demanding that Obama be shot? And what do you think of those soldiers who just got arrested, for forming a militia, whose goal was to overthrow the government? This from soldiers, sworn to protect the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. They got as far as killing one of their own.

    Provide evidence before you make idiotic claims.

  • Stan Bradley

    These anti-government groups are a danger. They aren’t just against the government they are against the people of the United States. Think of it, we voters are the electors of the government both local, state, and federal, if someone is at war with the government they are at war with us.

  • Sam Molloy

    Aadia, I’m more a fan of bringing the rest of the world up to our standards than feeling any personal guilt about their squalor. Certainly we have ostentatious excesses. Grain fed beef, tanklike SUV’s. Green taxes could be used to guide behavior better, but, as the saying goes, bad Capitalism is better than bad Socialism.

  • Larry Flaster

    Reading the article and comments is in a way quite comforting. It demonstrates the First Amendment actually lives.

    Beyond that, the fact that Homeland Security is not paying attention to White Supremacist and militia based groups is no doubt truthful. The Republicans are not concerned that they will become the targets of these groups, so they work to suppress their investigation and label the Dems as liberal fools who need to be paying attention to other things.

    Poor and middle class uneducated white men are so prone to miss the point that the American Dream does not exist anymore precisely because of Republicanism and that getting rid of minorites will accomplish nothing to help them. It is the rich who are the problem and most of the rich are supportive of the Republican agenda, which always leads to recessions and less jobs for- you guessed it- white males (among others).

    This is very circular but in our society the importance of the SPLC is overwhelmed by the sheer depth of the economic problems that the Republicans caused and want to continue to caus ein the future.

  • CM


    Still sore about your white supremacist friends getting some of the blame for that Breivik thing, Brad?

  • Joe Higareda

    The haters are further emboldened to deposit their toxic manure when supplied with anonymity and a world audience such as the Yahoo News comment section. The anonymous nature of the comments brings out the worst evil in these people. The monitors don’t remove the hate comments fast enough that call for the death of government agents, blacks, the president, Jews, Latino immigrants, and other minorities, especially “all Muslims”.

  • Aron

    HW, you are simply not worth more than 90 characters of my time. So I’m simply going to ask you to SHUT UP.

  • Reynardine

    HW: There is no discernable “left wing climate of hate”, even if there is sometimes one of gross-out. The shooter in the case had attended a strict, fundamentalist Christian, private school, and if this was not a put-up job, then my guess is that his upbringing drove him smack over Niagara Falls without a barrel.

    Fear not. You will never be shot by me. I am such a deadeye with a varmint gun my one remaining chicken, a rooster, lives in the house with me, while foxes multiply with impunity.

  • aadila

    @Steven Terrell….mindlessssss, eh? Interesting.

    What is mind?

  • HW

    Congress should investigate the SPLC for contributing to the leftwing “climate of hate” that resulted in the shooting at the DC offices of the Family Research Council. :)

  • -nancy j swain

    with respect to 48 geneva conventions,cerd 1965,proxmire act 1988 which ratified those two previously mentioned;as well as the presidential order 13107:no government can harbor these groups are in contempt of its own ratified treaties.

  • Stephen D. Clark

    Wait until Romney loses in November. Then despair for democracy will really sink in when the ultrarightists realize that they can’t compete in elections.

    We’re sitting on a powder keg.

  • tomas

    crazy white militia gun nuts. how many cops are gonna arrest themselves? a bug chunk of them are white militia nuts as well. theyre all just closet homosexuals going out in the woods with eachother feelin up eachothers hot barrels after unloading some rounds. then they hate on homosexuals that are out of the closet just like they generally hate on public made militias cause all what goes on in their lidges is supposed to be secret, it never was.

    war, to what end? a nuclear end.

  • Steven Terrell

    The worst hate group in America today is SPLC and it’s mindless supporters.

  • Reynardine

    Well, Friday is approaching. Will the macaroni hit the fan at the last minute?

  • Alex Lowrey

    I wish the US Media would take domestic terrorism and anti-government groups more seriously. It seems to me that the attack on the Sikh temple drew relatively weak media coverage (which didn’t last long either). Why do the media (and the government for that matter) with all their resources have to rely on a non-profit organization for intelligence on these guys? If it were not for the vigilance of the SPLC, shining light on the darkness, these hate groups would be free to conduct their unpatriotic, evil activities without any steadfast scrutiny at all. Thank God for the SPLC!

  • Kiwiwriter

    99 percent of “Patriot Groups” support the government? What have you been reading, David? They regard everything over the rank of County Sheriff as a grand conspiracy to take their money and guns away.

    And it doesn’t take much to cause chaos on a grand scale, as Erika pointed out…two guys with fertilizer pulled down the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City pretty efficiently. Didn’t bring down the government, didn’t spark off the grand revolution they hoped for (they never do), but they caused plenty of tragedy.

    And many of these “Patriot Groups” seem to “love” their country, while hating nearly everyone in it.

  • aadila

    Sam Molloy,

    You might check out the the concept of permaculture, which observes the principle that anyone and everyone can contribute to a more sustainable living system…not only to survive economic collapse but to make it less likely to happen. Unfortunately, with capitalists running the show and supplying the world with guns to make sure it stays that way, boom and bust cycles are only going to get worse and worse.

  • Erika

    Ezra, just because those groups are small doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. Two guys demolished the Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma 19 guys demolished the World Trade Center, heavily damaged the Pentagon, and caused another airplane to crash. And “lone nuts” have caused many deaths in mass shootings.

  • Erika

    Ruslan, its right next to the provison which states that someone who criticizes what you say violates your right to free speech ;)

  • Sam Molloy

    DRL : You are referring to people engaged in the political process that I tend to agree with. This article refers to idiots that run around the woods in camo and think they are going to outshoot the government. Don’t think so. Look up the XM 25. Also, if the economy totally collapses the only people who will be prepared are the Amish. They might not notice except jelly sales will be off.

  • Mitch Beales

    Ezra_mead you left one important fact out of your calculations. “Nazis” and “KKK” tend to be extremely cowardly individuals who prefer to operate in darkness and secrecy. They are not likely to show their faces at public demonstrations in locations where they do not have broad support. They also tend to be widely dispersed and, in general, are losers who can’t afford to travel long distances to participate in demonstrations. While I don’t find them particularly frightening at the moment they definitely bear watching. How many nazis do you think there were in Germany in 1918, 15 years before they seized power?

  • supersonic250

    David Richard Luntz: YOU and people like you are the reason we’re completely unprepared to protect ourselves against domestic terrorism from patriot groups. Thanks. Thanks a bunch.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Where in the US Constitution does it say that private militia groups are supposed to interpret the constitution?

  • aadila

    I disagree with David.

    I think the rise of patriot groups is due to generally violent cultural tendencies in America that go back to Anglo Saxon roots, combined with extreme individualism, a tendency toward self assertion, and esteem for the expression of anger.

    In fact I believe one of the reasons why modern English law is among the world’s most restrictive against violent conduct is because of these traits, and not out of any special feeling of equinamity or justice. Although Anglo Saxon society was ruled by vote, the rulers were selected on the basis of being great warriors.

    Our murder rate is astronomically high for a society that considers itself technologically and culturally superior to most of the world (i.e. “American exceptionalism”). We are, quite simply, a violent people.

  • Ezra_mead

    Explain to me how, if there are “1,018 hate groups”, whenever the Nazis have a rally, ALWAYS, only 20 guys show up at most?

    There are no “1,018 hate groups”. That’s a bogus number. Every KKK or Nazi organization is just one guy with a website and a PO box. Probably a high school kid just trolling. Whenever KKK or Nazis have a rally, usually only 25 guys show up. Half are either FBI agents or undercover media. If there really were “1,018 hate groups,” the Nazis would be able to have a rally with thousands of people, if not tens of thousands. Anyone can create a blog, so these punks are creating blogs as trolls so they can sit back and laugh and watch the reaction.

  • Reynardine

    You have the brass clangers to show your face here, do you, DRL?

  • David Richard Luntz

    Your “anti-government” labeling of Patriot Groups is mis directed negative propaganda.. Patriot Groups for the most part (99%) support our government. Wanting your government to run and operate within the bounds of the Constitution and our Bill of Rights is what should be expected by every American citizen.
    The growth you see and of which Sen Dick Durbin seems to fear is a direct result of the governments failure to walk the line and thier continuous over reach of authority.

    David Richard Luntz

  • Reynardine

    This is something that urgently needs doing. The background noise in the dextrosphere has risen to a pitch that makes me fear we are on our way to our very own Breivik or something worse.