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

New SPLC Report: ‘Patriot’ Movement Swells for Fourth Year

By Mark Potok on March 5, 2013 - 9:28 am, Posted in Editor's Pick, Hate Crime, Intelligence Report, Patriot Groups

The number of antigovernment “Patriot” groups on the American radical right hit an all-time high in 2012, the fourth straight year of explosive growth, according to a report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). As the new year began, serious talk of gun control, prompted by a Connecticut school massacre in December, fueled even more rage on the right, and the threat of violence loomed .

The new report, contained in the latest issue of the quarterly investigative journal Intelligence Report, found that the conspiracy-minded Patriot groups, which numbered only 149 in 2008, soared over the first four years of Barack Obama’s presidency to 1,360 in 2012 — an astounding 813% increase. At the same time, it found that hate groups remained at near-record levels of over 1,000 (see interactive map and state-by-state lists of 2012 hate groups here).

The resurgence of militias and other Patriot groups and an uptick over recent years in non-Islamic domestic terrorism caused SPLC President Richard Cohen today to write (letter pdf) U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to request the creation of a new interagency task force to assess the adequacy of federal resources devoted to the threat. “As in the period before the [1995] Oklahoma City bombing,” Cohen wrote, “we are now seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns.”

Patriot groups generally adhere to variations of a conspiracy theory that suggests that the federal government has secret plans to impose martial law on the United States, most likely with the aid of foreign troops; seize all guns held by American citizens; toss all those who resist into concentration camps run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and, ultimately, force the country into a kind of socialistic one-world government, commonly known as the “New World Order.”

The resurgence of the Patriot movement, which first rose and fell in the 1990s, has largely been a reaction to the election of the nation’s first black president in 2008 — and the demographic change, including the loss of the country’s white majority predicted for 2043, that he represents — as well as the difficult economy. The recent talk of gun control, which has sparked state legislative efforts to “nullify” any federal legislation and also a movement of rural sheriffs who promise to resist, is now adding fuel to a fire that was already burning at white-hot temperatures (see also my editorial).

Other articles in the new issue of the Intelligence Report (table of contents is here) include:

  • An investigative story looking at women in the white supremacist movement and the sometimes explosive secrets they keep.
  • A broad look at the comeback of the John Birch Society, once exiled from the respectable conservative movement, and its role in furthering a leading conspiracy theory about the United Nations sustainability plan known as Agenda 21.
  • An account of the way that Warren Jeffs, the racist polygamous leader now serving time for sex crimes against young girls, continues to rule two towns on the Arizona-Utah border from his cell.
  • A piece about the nation’s largest “sovereign citizens” group and its apparent weakening in the aftermath of the arrest of its leader.
  • An interview with an Iowa politician who left mainstream politics to take up as a “senator” with a major sovereign citizens group.
  • An account of the sputtering rage and name-calling of the radical right that was prompted by President Obama’s re-election last November.
  • A description of the rapid decline of the once-powerful movement of hard-line citizen border patrol and other nativist groups.
  • An examination of the troubles besetting Stormfront, the world’s largest white supremacist online forum.
  • A look at Christian extremists who have moved from worrying about the War on Christmas to launching their own War on Krishna.
  • Gary Williams

    Rather than being a purely grassroots movement that spontaneously developed shortly after Obamas took office, the Tea Party was in fact the end result a plan developed years before. Even the effort seen right here today attempting to portray the TP as a politically diverse group of common folks from a range of minorities was carefully worked out by PR pros years before anyone had heard the name Tea Party in the news.
    The rank and file members swear they are a spontaneous expression of their own beliefs. But decades of work by the tobacco industry trying at first to stage-manage a popular revolt against high excise tax rates the government had recently leveled on tobacco products eventually morphed into more familiar themes like the Boston Tea Party protest of unfair taxes.
    But then they turned fear and hatred of the English government into a more general hatred of government power overall. The Minutemen, guns, patriot militias, are all common elements of TP speech, that while always existing, begun to really take off once the usefulness of those themes for rallying conservatives was realized.

    In conjunction with Koch Bros financing for the creation of a more formal think-tank (we know as the Cato Institute) to provide intellectual cover for TV pundits by which they could excuse or even identify with the hoped-for TP protesters holding placards ranting against “big government”,intruding on the “little mans” ability to work and feed his family, an idea that fit well with the execs lobbying for a reduction in their own tax rates, providing loopholes or removing worker safety regs mandated by “big government!”
    They;ve now manipulated the working class into giving them, the wealthiest people alive, our own money by conflating unions with communism, opposing a minimum wage law for our own kids, removing EPA’s pollution laws, mandated workplace safety, allowing industry to go offshore despite record profits at home, taking a patriotic stand against universal health care coverage for our own kids…..all while allowing Wall St. to deregulate.

    People so removed from the real world, and so scared or hateful regarding the few touchstones they may still be able to follow along until they can reorient themselves to the real world, that I fear a non-violent resolution to the problem may not exist anymore.

    “Although the Tea Party is widely considered to have started in 2009,9 this paper presents a historical study of of the tobacco companies’ early activities and key players in the evolution of the Tea Party.
    Moreover, while the Tea Party started in the USA,In 2012 Koch;s FreedomWorks expanded the movement internationally, training activists in 30 countries, including Israel, Georgia, Japan, Nigeria and Serbia”

  • milton e king

    Your kidding right? How many planes have they crashed into buildings and bombs have they fired off at marathons?Just curious!

  • Sophia

    Apparently you choose to post leftist views only, and not a single bit from republicans as to why they are so outraged. nothing about the IRS who will be in charge of our healthcare, even though they targeted conservatives for discrimination. imagine how many of us will die when they choose to begin the discrimination in healthcare they wont provide us. how about Benghazi? how about Fast and Furious which republicans were blamed for? how about the wire taps and accusations of republicans being more dangerous that Al-Queda when it self-proclaimed democrats shooting everything up? if you choose to change my post, dont bother posting it. i didn’t lie, dont turn it into a lie to suit your purposes.

  • Mark Potok

    A note to our commenters:

    As a lot of you know, we’ve developed a problem with the antagonistic nature of the comment threads on Hatewatch. As a result, and after talking to some of you, we’ve decided to try and restore some civility and sense of community.

    From now on, we’re just not going to publish comments that include name-calling of any kind, no matter whose side of a particular issue you’re on. We’re not going to publish guttural expressions of racism, anti-Semitism, gay-bashing, misogyny and so on. We will publish white nationalist arguments, but only if they’re presented civilly and calmly, like the fellow from Stormfront who recently made an effort to politely argue with other commenters here. We will not publish bogus claims about certain groups’ alleged inferiority, and we won’t publish links to racist sites or sites that contain misleading or false statistics. Finally, we plan to stop publishing comments from a few posters who have become a real problem on our threads.

    This is not an attempt to censor people’s thinking, but it is an effort to make Hatewatch more of a community of people discussing important issues. We don’t want it to degenerate yet another Internet shouting match.

    Thanks for your understanding. We appreciate your contributions to the blog very much.

    Mark Potok

  • concernedcitizen

    Brock I’m sure there are more choices than that. Let’s define prejudice: 1 : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights ; esp: detriment to one’s legal rights or claims.

    Brock I have personal preferences as all people do but they do not extend into disregard of one’s rights, nor do I inflict injury or damage or wish to cause detriment to one’s legal rights or claims.

    Those that propagate hate and divide by use of violence are not exercising their legal rights they have no legal right to harm or propagate hate that would lead to harm or the infringement of the civil rights of others.

    When people speak racist comments or engage in harmful activities towards others that in fact does disregard the persons rights then we have prejudice and maybe even a hate crime.

    Personal preferences or judgements are just that, personal. But when you have people willing to act out adversely on their personal preferences or judgments then we as a society have a problem.

    2 a (1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b : an instance of such judgment or opinion c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics predilection

    Brock some people are stoic by design does not mean they are not human. Others are worse than immature emotional children who can’t control their emotions at all.

    Not Hate, hate would suggest emotional involvement. Do I have indifference towards anyone, absolutely. Complete indifference. Hate is a waste of time and only eats up the bearer of it.

  • Small Town Liberal

    I do take some offense at the broad brush painting those who live in small towns as somehow small-minded or unintelligent.

    I live in a small town in the Nebraska Panhandle (128 people), I am known here for a few things: as being liberally-minded, as a disabled veteran, and caring about all in my community.

    When in November one of our town’s councilmembers died, the village board appointed me to his seat to fill out his term. Of the five who stood forth for the position, the board deemed me “the least divisive.” I even had the support of the very conservative gun shop owner on the board for the position.

    I would readily agree there are extremists in small towns, just as there are in big cities. I don’t recall any news articles about liberal extremists blowing anything up recently though, or trying to subvert science education in schools, or claim the President is not an American citizen because his father wasn’t born in the USA (though his mother was born in Kansas), though Senator John McCain was born in Panama and no one makes such claims about him,

    There are plenty of folk in large cities that believe these things too. It is not an issue of “small minds in small towns,” it is an issue of “small minds” full stop.

  • Reynardine

    Isn’t it cute when Brock tries to reason!

  • Brock Henderson

    “These are fully defined words void of emotion.”

    One need only peruse the comments by leftists on their blogs, such as this one, to see the falsehood of the second part of that statement. Yes, however, those terms do have definitions. That begs a question, then: What about you? Do you harbor feelings of hatred or bigotry towards anybody? You do realize that you either a) have no emotions at all, meaning you’re not a human being, or you’re b) lying, if you say no, don’t you?

  • concernedcitizen

    Dividing people is done in acts of war.

    hate crime n (1984) : any of various crimes (as assault or defacement of property) when motivated by hostility to the victim as a member of a group (as one based on color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation)

    big·ot \’bi-g?t\ n [F, hypocrite, bigot] (1660) : a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ; esp: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
    — big·ot·ed \-g?-t?d\ adj
    — big·ot·ed·ly adv

    These are fully defined words void of emotion.

    One thing I can tell you is that the bigots in one little town I experienced were mostly liars, troublemakers and atrocious eye shores.

  • Brock Henderson

    Do you never do that, concernedcitizen? Does the Left never try to divide people? Saul Alinsky said proudly something that the Right has always known – that causing division amongst people and pitting certain groups against others is a key tactic for the Left. As for “hate,” and “bigotry,” very loaded words which bring much more emotion than logic to my mind, what do you consider hate and bigotry? Any and all opposition to homosexual rights, at least as far as they’ve been known in the egalitarian sense since Stonewall? The beliefs of Phyllis Schlafly, that marriage for a woman is consent to sex as well, so there is no rape in marriage? Or is your definition more in line with the SPLC’s definition – that an organization has to peddle known falsehoods debunked by certain statistics, but otherwise they can BELIEVE whatever they want and still stay clear of their hate group list?

  • concernedcitizen

    Brock anyone who spreads hate and divide among a nations people need to be watched and under surveillance to thwart violent crimes like those we’ve seen in Wisconsin and many others I will not take time to name here.

    It has been my experience that bigotry does not stop at a mere conversation over the breakfast table between family and friends but it is brought into the streets and manifested as crimes against innocent Americans.

  • Aron

    Erika, for you, anything <3

  • Erika

    Brock, if you don’t like pathetic, would you prefer creepy instead?

  • Erika

    Aron, speaking of dresses, after going to the Easter service in a downpour this freezing cold morning and realzing that the cute little Easter dress i picked to wear wasn’t nearly warm enough, i have a favor to ask you on behalf of all of us Easter dress wearing Gentiles:

    i was wondering if you could be a dear and talk with the Learned Elders of Zion about changing the Jewish Calendar to make sure that the date of Passover only comes in the middle to end of April so that there will be no more freezing cold March Easters ;)

  • Erika

    brockie, brockie, brocke – you actually had to take time to think up that drivel? You are even more pathetic than i possibily imagined :P

  • Aron


    I’d be lying I I wasn’t. Watching girls spin around and around in hoop skirts is wonderful fun!

  • Erika

    oh looks like mr. brock has yet to show up to tell us what he is for. maybe he is on his way to Memphis :P

    or maybe he is too busy fantasizing about me wearing a hoop skirt ;)

  • Brock Henderson

    Just being honest, Aron, about the amount of thought I need to put into the answer to such a loaded and broad question. What was pathetic about it? Oh and sorry, Reynardine, look on the other blog entry where you made that demand.

  • Aron

    Hey Brock, careful with that match: you just might ignite your STRAWMAN!

    That was pathetic, even for you.

  • Reynardine

    Pop! goes the weasel!!

  • Brock Henderson

    But seriously, Reynardine, your inquiries you’ve been pressing upon me are very much worthy of response, and responses are forthcoming. Look for one on this blog entry. I admit it does require a lot of thought, so give me until maybe tomorrow.

  • Brock Henderson

    Oh yeah, and you seem to love your “fellow Americans,” Reynardine. You’re not wholly at odds with any of us, concerning your basic worldview! LOS members, immigration restrictionists, oh yeah, we and you and Barack Obama’s voters are all ONE NATION!

    Wait, what’s this? “Keeping an eye on the Radical Right.”

    Reynardine, the total nonexistence of an American nation is staring us all in the face from our computer screens at the top of this page. You believe people who hold such views as mine need to be surveilled like we are possible
    spies from Hezbollah.

  • Erika

    brock, back to the old “Lost Cause of the Confederacy” myth again? How droll.

    how about you put down the League of the South/Lost Cause literature and step away from your compuer and go around this great country of ours because obviously lif e in your bubble has left you unable to understand it. Or at least go outside and have some sweet tea.

  • Reynardine

    Brock, the North is also full of Southerners, just as the South is full of Northerners. Collectively, we are known as Americans. And now: What are you for? What is your country? What is your ideal society like? What are its laws, what are its customs, what is its soil, and whose is its blood? Be specific. Answer like a man, not a weasel.

  • Brock Henderson

    Yes, Erika, I’m aware that the South is full of Yankees. Why do you use that term? Is it because you know and understand that there is nothing Southern about them except for the fact that they simply live there? Today, the South is only the South geographically. There was a concerted and systematic effort to destroy it from 1861-77. It started back up again with the Southward migration waves starting roughly a century later and still going on.

    Let’s see, a war won by one nation-state against another foreign nation-state, land won in the process, followed by the most graceful gesture of paying the defeated country $15 million for that land . . . yep, that’s stealing!

    Hilarious. Keep ’em coming, Erika.

  • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

    As a member of the Constitution Party (one of the groups branded as “antigovernment Patriot) I would encourage to read the response I posted on my blog, The Berean Observer. The post is entitled “I am an ‘Antigovernment extremist’!” My contention is that by including us on your list of Patriot groups you grossly inflated the number of such groups (we account for over 13% of the total) and you unfairly linked us to domestic terrorism. Hardly what we would expect from an organization that claims to be dedicated to tolerance and justice!

  • concernedcitizen

    Erika, after reading your post on 3/25 you have put me in the mood for sweet tea…something I haven’t had in a while.

  • Erika

    brock, it seems that your two primary issues are first a vastly inflated sense of self worth – which is to say that you think you know everything. And second, that you apparently already do live in an isolated island where no other people are present and you never venture out from that island. Or maybe you just stay in Sacramento and rely on stereotypical views of other places. Which is to say that its obvious that you have never left your little bubble because if you actually have you would find that Americans everywhere have a whole lot in common.

    See, Brock, i know that you probably think that because i’m Southern that i sit on the veranda of my plantation house wearing a hoop skirt and drinking tea which is even more sugary and sweeter than my accent. That is obviously not true because unfortunately i cannot afford a plantation house with a veranda (and despite the best efforts of the Antebellum Department of Princess Erika’s Guilded Age Fashions hoop skirts have yet to have a major comeback), Of course, if you would actually come to the South you’d learn some things – such as the fact that the South is now filled with Yankees and Midwesterners (like my parents!) – and of course, the same national brands, national television programs, and nationally distrubed music is also here. In fact the biggest difference you will see between say South Carolina and Indiana is that South Carolina has Krystal and Indiana has White Castle. and they are like so totally different because Krystal has chili cheese fries and puts mustard on their burgers unless you order them without while White Castle has fried onion pedals and if you want mustard you have to add it yourself.

    So Brock, leave your little white supremacist bubble in your home which was stolen from Mexico and go on a trip across this great land of ours. Just don’t take the interstate highways because then you might decide that the regions are in fact vastly incapable because of the entire Waffle House issue.

    Now you might decide that there is a difference between the urban majority of America and the rural places – after all, rural Georgia has way more in common with rural Iowa than it does with Atlanta. Of course, Atlanta has way more in common with Chicago than it does with rural Georgia. That makes sense, both Atlanta and Chicago are filled with people from rural Iowa :P

    But see, honey, what happens is that there are some people – mainly right wing media figures – who wax about the rural lands in the South and the Midwest. Most of them live in New York or Washington, DC which are both big cities – many of them have never even really ever been in the rural South or Midwest. As a result, their views tend to be very laughable to anyone who has even ever visited the Midwest or South. That is to say that even in those more rural areas the vast majority of the population lives in large cities, suburbs, small cities, and rural areas.

    Basically like every other thing on which you have expressed an opinion, (especially women) you think you know it all, but in reality, its not just Europe that you know nothing about.

  • concernedcitizen

    @MRJ: No it is not all in your head. They are racists and they employ the services of the degenerates that live around them or who they can employ through Internet connections.

    They use all the methods you have listed above and yes I believe that when a large group of people who conspire and get away with federal crimes the way they do in communities, then they are being protected by not only family and friends, but others in power that are well aware of them.

    An event took place when the hosts were mostly white and it was very peaceful during that event.

    Another event took place when the participants were mostly Indian and the peace lasted just as long for them to finish the event.

    They have a way here of going out of their way to make the experiences of others unpleasant. What I have learned is that it is a practice that does nothing more than further push their communities into becoming ghettos. No, very few minorities these are in fact what I would call “white” ghettos.

    When a community is cohesive in perpetrating hate they spend too much time and energy on their poison. They do not grow and prosper in the ways that I have noticed in more well rounded and diverse communities. A healthy community seems to prosper in the arts and academia.

    It really does pay to bring children up valuing education and other prosperous endeavors. This will give them the tools to excel in life.

    However, when people are teaching their children to hate and complain about all that life owes them and encouraging them to harass their neighbors it would seem to me that their activities leave little room for true intellectual and artistic achievement. And the community as a whole suffers.

    I don’t believe anyone wants to live in a chicken outfit.

    MRJ: the racists I have encountered like to employ methods of emotional and mental coercion, and intimidation in order to control their victims. Terrible mind games. They are indeed the parasites of our communities.

    I found your post particularly interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reynardine

    Brock: your eminent educator is a sixth grade teacher? And sounds just like you, into the bargain? I see.

  • Reynardine

    Brock: put your money where your speaking orifice is and strip yourself of this nationality you say you don’t have, then.

  • concernedcitizen

    @Brock: stop attempting to beat up on Erika for most likely being a victim of spell check that even the best of us have been.

    A spelling error is easily corrected even in a court of law. However, within the context of the reading a reasonable person can usually determine what was meant or where the alleged spelling error took place. The key words here being a “reasonable person”.

    While spelling errors are easily corrected, it has been my experience that lack of critical thinking skills are not so easily corrected if they are correctable at all.

  • Brock Henderson

    Reynardine, remember what I said about leftists being deluded into believing there are only two dimensions to human existence – the individual and the state? Thank you for proving my point again. Governments can exercise jurisdiction over many a polarized, squabbling, bickering nation/nationality of people at the same time. Doesn’t make them all the members of the same NATION. Same sovereign government, yes, but not nation. Not by the longest shot in the world. No we don’t all have to agree that grits are better with sugar than salt, Charlotte Bronte was a better writer than Emily, or San Diego is a nicer city than San Francisco. But where our entire worldviews are clearly at odds, Reynardine, we have no nation.

  • concernedcitizen

    @Brock: you stated: I have no doubt that there are many a black, red, or brown, person out there who can analyze literature better than myself. But the number of white or yellow people who can make that claim is likely to far exceed the number of black, brown, or red.

    Perhaps you need to study further back into Egyptian Culture and the advancements that we have because of this dark race of people.

    Then look around the world as you see it today with the all the wonderfully talented black and brown people who are successfully and very rich, and even a President and First Lady of this country then rethink that statement.

  • Aron


    Just as you have proven you know nothing about Europe, you have also proven you know nothing about New England. That is zero for two.

    And no balls.

  • Brock Henderson

    Personal attacks, Erika? You mean ad hominems? I think it’s fair to say that about half of all the childish drivel you’ve typed to me DOES qualify as such. I have a message for you, by the way, from a friend of mine, a real educator who really is in the proper place to give me an education about . . . well, anything. I’ll call him by his initials, D.S.:

    “If I’m ever in VA in your neck of the woods, I would like you, Erika, to disclose to me the extremely pertinent and relevant piece of information about your recent flubbing of the word ‘secession,’ should we ever meet in person and I’m considering hiring you to represent me. Make sure I know that you really did once use the word ‘succession’ in place of ‘secession.’ There are misspellings, Erika, and then there is the wholly different realm of completely replacing one word with a DIFFERENT WORD. Since you did that – something I do see now and then from my 6TH-GRADE STUDENTS – and yet at the same time you pompously insult and belittle your political opposition regularly on a blog, there is one thing that is clear: I surely deserve a better attorney than the likes of you. So I will then need to know who you are and then take my business elsewhere. Have a great day.”

  • Brock Henderson

    Yeah right, Ruslan, all international bankers and financiers are Jews. International financiers = international financiers. Get it? By the way, you may want to cover up your 1%-ism, if you want to maintain even a modicum of credibility or successfully deceive anybody vis-a-vis your bleeding-heart concern for the downtrodden and oppressed masses who Communists claim to stand up for.

  • Reynardine

    Since when, Brock, has common nationality ever required absolute agreement in everything? It requires only allegiance to a common sovereign and entitlement to protection from that same sovereign. Both the groups you name have come to that sovereign’s defense after Pearl Harbor and 9/11; both have enjoyed that sovereign’s protection on the high seas and in foreign lands. You will, like every other American, hang a coat or beach towel over the front of a doorless toilet stall rather than do #2in full view of the public, and I know right now to what embassy you will whine when you get in trouble abroad. If you don’t like it, go and formally renounce your citizenship; unless and until some other sovereign accepts your allegiance (which is evidently worthless), you will enjoy the status of stateless person.

  • Brock Henderson

    Yes, Aron, it should make sense to you if you know anything about Puritanism. Good boy.

  • Brock Henderson

    Yeah, right, Reynardine, Mexicans in California and Arizona in a MECHA march for amnesty in the streets of Phoenix or Los Angeles, are totally united in feelings of national brotherhood with Michigan Yoopers. That’s just one example for you. Open your eyes, for God’s sake.

  • Aron

    I see, Brock. Because we were founded by Puritans, that’s why so many of us are atheists and agnostics. Makes sense to me!

    And the fact that New England was always a center of industry certainly ha nothing to do with our prosperity. Neither does the fact that we are the education capital of the country.

    No sir.

    Keep on dissembling, Brock! You’re doing a wonderful job.

  • Reynardine

    Brock, before you accuse anyone of not being a real woman, I suggest you go on line to Stark Brothers, Mellingers, or any good fruit tree nursery and order yourself a pear.