By Rosemary Eng
The United States is increasingly more hate-full, with 954 mostly white hate groups in 2017 compared to 917 in 2016, that target African Americans and other races, reports the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Hate groups, said Heidi Beirich, who leads SPLC’s Intelligence Project, attack “an entire class of people,” vilifying them on the basis of race, ethnicity and gender. They actively try to recruit new members with forums, websites, newsletters and public interaction.
Groups are not listed based on violence but on demonizing propaganda which fuels violence.
She blamed President Donald Trump for throwing gas on black nationalist bonfires when he questioned in January why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa instead of from countries like Norway, which was led by a Nazi government during World War II.
Trump’s call to ban temporarily people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from coming into the United States intensified resentment among black nationalist groups, some of which identify with Islamic teachings because of what they perceive as forced conversion to Christianity, the religion of those who enslaved their ancestors.
After white supremacists staged their largest rally in a decade in Charlottesville, Virginia, prompting the President to say, “I think there is blame on both sides,” he reinforced black nationalists’ anger over past injustices. One woman was murdered and several people were beaten by white nationalists, Nazis and members of the Klu Klux Klan.
In August last year the SPLC itemized “black nationalist groups of concern.” Admittedly, Beirich said, SPLC has no direct knowledge of membership numbers for black nationalist groups. Information is based on websites, newsletters and forums. These groups do not have much presence on social media. The Nation of Islam broadcasts it own weekly television show–The Munir Muhammad Show–from Chicago where the organization based. Guests have included white and black elected officials. Whites and Hispanics also are members of the Nation of Islam.
“Although not necessarily violent themselves, the Nation of Islam (NOI), New Black Panther Party (NBPP), New Black Panther Nation (NBPN), and the Five-Percent Nation attract violent individuals whom they indoctrinate and push toward extremism,” assessed the SPLC. See the report: “Return of the Violent Black Nationalist,” April 08, 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/return-violent-black-nationalist
Beirich attributed this year’s rise in Black Nationalist numbers to a new group called Great Millstone, for which SPLC counted 20 recently-formed chapters. The Great Millstone has very little information on its website and its videos don’t work.
“This is crap and irresponsible on the part of the SPLC,” claims Dr. James L. Taylor. “There are no black nationalist hate groups in America. I do not accept the premise of this unscientific study and report.”Black-nationalist groups have grown in number from 193 to 233, the SPLC said at their Year in Hate and Extremism press conference February 21.
Professor of political science at University of San Francisco, Taylor is author of Black Nationalism in the United States: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama (2014).
“Black nationalism is nothing but black conservatism,” he said. It started with Christianity and later was associated with the Nation of Islam through figures such as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X and Minister Louis Farrakhan. Nation of Islam has been around for decades.The Nation of Islam was founded July 4, 1930, by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad.
Taylor says black political backlash pre-dates Trump, the alt-right and Breitbart. By rolling out black nationalist “hate groups,” the SPLC is being “very dishonest.” It’s the same kind of nuanced, subjective reporting you find on FOX (news channel) with Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly, he continued.
To put the SPLC report in perspective, Taylor said, there are 45 million black people in America and only maybe 50,000 people associated with these so-called “hate groups.”
“They are unknown to black people in America, remote from everyday working people.”
Taylor said though he lives in Oakland where Black Lives Matter began, he doesn’t see a blip of influence by any of the groups mentioned. “Ask any 50 black people you encounter in a week if they have ever heard of any of these groups. Apart from the old Nation of Islam, you would get a blank stare.”
While the number of black nationalist groups reportedly grew, they are overshadowed by the more than 600 hate groups that adhere to some form of white supremacist ideology, said Beirich. Within the white supremacy category, neo-Nazi groups grew the most, from 99 to 121 groups.
Strangely enough, the number of Ku Klux Klan groups fell from 130 to 72. Beirich attributed that to a new generation of white supremacists who are trying to adopt “the clean-cut look.” To them, KKK garb “is not the image of what white nationalists should look like.”
The anti-Muslim movement has slowed since Trump’s early days in office with an increase from 101 to 114 groups. Between 2015 and 2016 SPLC saw a 197 per cent increase in anti-Muslim hate groups in the U.S.
And for the first time SPLC is adding a new hate category: male supremacy groups. For the first time, the SPLC added two such groups to the hate list: A Voice for Men, based in Houston, and Return of Kings, based in Washington, D.C. focusing on the vilification of women.
See SPLC’s hate map: https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map
The SPLC is a non-profit organization monitoring activities of domestic hate groups and other extremists. It protects the civil rights of children, women, the disabled, immigrants and migrant workers, the LGBT community, prisoners, and many others who faced discrimination, abuse or exploitation. SPLC’s headquarters is located in Montgomery, Alabama.
Frederick H. Lowe contributed to this story.